The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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fall 2008

ARC 695:
Advanced Design TechComm

Vincent Snyder

Course Description

TechComm Advanced Design is a comprehensive studio bridging many of the issues typically addressed in any advanced design studio-- such as design methodologies and particular pedagogical intents as filtered through topical projects--with a strong focus on the integration of technical issues and to the nature of presentation documents at all phases. Pragmatically, the scheduling of production for course project begins with an intensive research component to generate discoveries and to posit linkages. A schematic design is produced in model and 2-d drawing formats, followed by design development with 3-d components, and a sampling of detail drawings that may be included in a construction documents set. 

Naturally, issues of construction and assemblies are framed within a set of concerns that are present in any type of construction, such as expansion & contraction, moisture penetration and evacuation, ventilation, primary and secondary structure, logic of connections, differential settlement, etc. Although the most significant issues will be addressed, particular attention will be given to the nature of detail drawings and the final product produced by the students will result in a presentation package that may be defined as beyond design development phase but short of a complete construction documents package. 


This course will consist of only one project the entire semester.  However, in addition to the integration of the assignments from core courses with the design project, numerous exercises directly related to the development of the project will also be issued within the design studio.

Project Description

Primary intention of the studio is to posit a textural and delivery strategy that challenges the identity and future issues of urban architecture in Austin.  This multi-use project will establish a literal, physical on-site framework at the scale of the city in which modules from off-site construction are inserted as a response to changing programmatic needs anticipated over a number of decades. 


General material and format considerations will be suggested by the instructor throughout the course, however, investigation and experimentation is strongly encouraged at all stages of production and design. Materials and equipment shall be acquired prior to scheduled studio time.


Sketchbooks will also serve as notebooks (for periodic lectures and readings in this course) are required and will be reviewed by the instructor intermittently.


Photography will be an essential tool that will be used for initial site analysis, final presentation and most importantly for daily documentation of your design progress.

Studio Course Grading Policy


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 expectedStudents 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.

(*Note: this depicts the minimum penalty and is not to be taken as an allowance for 3 unexcused absences but outlines a minimum consequence for 4 unexcused absences.  Students may expect ½ letter grade from their final course grade for more that 2 absences. 

Excused absences are given for illness or family emergencies only. Any other absences constitute unexcused absences, even if prior notice is given to the instructor. Any unexcused absences are not viewed favorably.

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.


At the beginning of the semester, students with disabilities who need special accommodations should notify the instructor by presenting a letter prepared by the Services for Students with Disabilities Office. To ensure that the most appropriate accommodations can be provided, students should contact the SSD Office at 471-6259 or 471-4641 TTY. 

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. 

Be smart. Be safe.