Today it is easy to get the impression that the next generation of architects is being trained to tackle mass-migration, climate change, or the pandemic. However, this has more to do with the marketing machine of academia than it does with what’s really happening in schools today. For every architecture design studio that views a crisis as a game-changer for the discipline – there are a dozen others gluing together stuffed animals, experimenting with robots, animating shiny blobs, or just teaching students how to make regular-old non-game-changing buildings. While the planet experiences paradigm-shifting trauma, the academy remains a space apart where design educators are free to choose if and how their pedagogy will respond to these forces. In this context, the average student generally encounters a relatively arbitrary group of studios that reflect the individual predilections of their teachers, rather than a rationally organized vision for how the architect might relate to the world. Does this fragmented educational landscape coalesce to create a broader vision for the student, or are we in an era of what Wes Jones has called “architecture games,” in which irreconcilable worldviews and approaches leave students in a state of cognitive dissonance? The question remains that if saving the planet or transforming society isn’t a universally shared goal, then what drives the dizzying array of pedagogies that exist today? And what does this landscape tell us about the nature of architecture and the way it is conceived as a pedagogical enterprise? This proposal seeks to present work from an ongoing research project focusing on a taxonomy of pedagogical approaches as a critical reflection on the state of contemporary architectural education.
Brad Horn is an architect, educator and writer living in NYC. He received a B. Arch. from The Cooper Union, an M. Arch. from Columbia University and has taught design at Harvard GSD, Columbia University GSAPP, The Cooper Union, and Pratt Institute. He is currently a tenured, full-time faculty member at The City College of New York, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, where he directed the M Arch program for a decade and recently served as Interim Dean. Horn is a partner in the firm Berman Horn Studio, an internationally published, multidisciplinary practice that spans criticism, theory, architecture, and interior design. His scholarly research focuses on the history and contemporary landscape of architectural design pedagogy. In this context he has contributed writing to several books and journals and has participated in numerous symposia internationally including Learning/Doing/Thinking: Educating Architects in the 21st Century at the Yale School of Architecture in 2016, Schools of Thought: Rethinking Architectural Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma in 2020, and NCBDS at Texas A&M in 2021. With support from The Graham Foundation, Horn is currently working on a book called Pedagogy in the Wild: A Field Guide to Contemporary Architectural Education.