The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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fall 2008

ARC 560R:
Two Hotels

Susan Maxman
Jose Minguell

Course description

Your generation will face tremendous challenges in the coming years as we grapple with growing populations and shrinking resources. Thus your profession will be asked to design in such a way that minimizes unnecessary use of these limited resources in all that you do, while creating wonderful spaces that delight the users and accommodate their needs.  

Buildings, the single largest producer by sector of green house gas emissions, produce 40% of landfill waste and use 40% of virgin materials. It is not unreasonable to think that there will be a time in the not too distant future when new buildings will be required to be carbon neutral and have no negative effects on the environment with regard to construction and operations. 

This studio will begin to look at ways in which our design decisions are derived from a commitment to mitigate the effects of building on our environment.     

This demands an attitude that looks at the whole of the project in a way that respects the larger context in which it is placed. There is an obligation to look at each of these projects as demonstrations of a larger concern for the well being of our environment.

This studio will be centered on the concept of site and context as a generator of sustainable design. The students work will be based on the understanding of site conditions and limitations as the framework and initiator for architectural solutions. 

Sustainable design is viewed as a composition-integration problem, comprised of environment, program and systems.  The role of the designer is to create a harmonious balance between these three elements.

Site analysis and case studies will be used as tools for understanding the problems at hand. Architectural design solutions for specific isolated issues such as natural light, context, natural ventilation, and inhabitation will be used as the generators of architecture.

A similar hospitality program on two contrasting sites will be the main core for the studio work. One site is located on an isolated beach with a tropical climate and the other in an urban setting with moderate climate. The program will be a small to medium size hotel with all it amenities.

Phases of the studio will consist of site data collection, design exercises based on the collected data and the realization of the final project. 

Susan Maxman will be present in Austin one week of every month. The Teaching of the studio will be assisted by Jose Minguell


Establishing grades for projects of a creative nature is a more complex matter than grading in other academic areas. While each project contains certain quantifiable elements by which it may be evaluated, a significant portion of each grade is derived from a broader, more subjective set of issues. 

Grading for studio courses is broken into three components for each given mark:
1/3 grasp (the ideas and understanding of the project at hand, combined with an appropriate process of inquiry),
1/3 process (the consistent and rigorous development and testing of ideas) and
1/3 resolution (the demonstration of competence, completeness, and finesse through representation). 

Your work will be evaluated on its rigor and evolution over the semester. 

Grade descriptions

A : excellent work
Project surpasses expectations in terms of inventiveness, appropriateness, verbal and visual ability, conceptual rigor, craft, and personal development. Student pursues concepts and techniques above and beyond what is discussed in class. Project is complete on all levels. 

B : good work
Project is thorough, well researched, diligently pursued, and successfully completed. Student pursues ideas and suggestions presented in class and puts in effort to resolve required projects. Project is complete on all levels and demonstrates potential for excellence. 

C : required work
Project meets the minimum requirements. Suggestions made in class are not pursued with dedication or rigor. Project is incomplete in one or more areas. 

D : poor work
Project is incomplete. Basic skills including graphic skills, model-making skills, verbal clarity or logic of presentation are not level-appropriate. Student does not demonstrate the required design skill and knowledge base. 

F : unacceptable work
Project is unresolved. Minimum objectives are not met. Performance is not acceptable. Note that this grade will be assigned when you have excessive unexcused absences. 

X : (excused incomplete)
Can be given only for legitimate reasons of illness or family emergency. Simply not completing work on time is not an adequate cause for assigning this evaluation. It may only be used after consultation with the Associate Deans' offices and with an agreement as to a new completion date. Studio work must be completed before the second week of the next design semester in which you are enrolling, according to School of Architecture policy. 



Attendance is mandatory. Participation is expected. Students with three (3) unexcused absences may be dropped from the course without further notice. The minimum penalty for more than three unexcused absences is a full letter drop in your final grade for the course. Please contact the instructor prior to class if you expect to be late or miss class. 

A student who misses classes or other required activities for the observance of a religious holy day should inform the instructor as far in advance of the absence as possible, so that arrangements can be made to complete an assignment within a reasonable time after the absence. A student who fails to complete missed work within the time allowed will be subject to the normal academic penalties. 


Please notify your instructor of any adaptation you may require to accommodate a specific physical need. You will be requested to provide documentation to the Dean of Students' Office, in order that the most appropriate accommodations can be determined. Specialized services are available on campus through the Services for Students with Disabilities, also found via the web at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/ssd/

Security, safety and the studio

The studio is an exceptional learning environment. Since it is a place for all, it necessitates the careful attention to the needs of everyone in it. Please see your instructor if there are any problems (music, visual pollution) that you are unable to resolve on your own. All spraying of fixative, spray paint or any other substance should be done in the shop. Security is a necessary component for a studio that is accessible to you and your colleagues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please be mindful not to admit any uninvited visitors and keep all exterior doors locked after hours.