Design Classes D1 – D80

Glass_Joseph Hensler

Glass Art by SFIA student
Joseph A. Henseler, Assoc. AIA

Some educators have said “design can’t be taught” or  “students either have it of they don’t”. These educators look for  students who already “have it” and often ignore everyone else. But many  students who “have it” in school seem to lose it when they get into the  working world. They can draw but they can’t visualize. They can present  themselves well but they can’t solve the real problems of planning. They  can build great models but they don’t know how buildings are put  together.

It may add to the mystique of design to say “it  can’t be taught”.  And it’s true that people are born with varying  aptitudes. But all of the skills of design can be learned and improved,  and people have been doing so for ages. These skills include  observation, analysis, conceptual abstraction, creativity,  visualization, planning, problem solving, expressiveness, composition,  2-D representation, and 3-D modeling.

Creativity remains  particularly mysterious to many especially since there is so little of  it in the schools. Creativity has been difficult to nurture in most  architecture schools for a troublesome three-part reason

1.  Creativity  requires experimentation
2.  Most experiments don’t  work
3.  Failed experiments don’t make grades

This  has given students a choice as far as school is concerned. Be  experimental and learn the skills of creativity, or submit work that  makes good grades. SFIA encourages the widest possible range of  experimental exploration in design, media and problem solving.

Design Classes

D 1
Nature-Based Creative Design Process
3 units
This core course shows how to create extraordinary buildings – buildings completely integrated with the needs of the users, with the site, and within themselves works of art. This course explores how to expand creative abilities and media skills, and understand the total design process, from initial client relationships through final construction. The techniques for building well and designing to reach and reward the human mind and emotions are explained in detail, through three short building design assignments.

D 2
User-Centered Design Process
3 units
The creative process is understood thanks to the testimonies of generations of the world’s most creative minds, and now understood to be natural to every human being. The focus of this class is how to expand your innate creative abilities.

D 4
The Architectural Mind: Creativity and Creative Problem Solving
3 units
The world’s most advanced creative thinking and problem-solving tools. This course covers today’s most advanced methods for inducing inspiration, original thinking, independent thinking, and creative design and problem solving. This course presents the mental and emotional processes that precede, precipitate, support or hinder the process of design. We study today’s most advanced methods for inducing inspiration, original thinking, independent thinking, and creative design problem solving. We study the latest techniques in creative problem solving including: mind maps, advanced brainstorming methods, lateral thinking, synectics, morphological thinking. Includes much new information on the brain, consciousness, the design process, methods for enlarging the scope of consciousness, and the most effective methods for solving any type of problem.

D 5
Designing the Future: Nanotech, Megatech & Singularity
3 units
The most important changes in ecology and architecture in the years ahead will come from advanced technology. This course deals with the most advanced ideas and technology of our time, such as nanotechnology, life extension, virtual worlds, smart dust, mind expansion, and how to remove inhibitions to imagination through new visionary design methodologies. This course covers the latest technological achievements, achievements that are accelerating at a historically unprecedented rate, and explores their implications for planetary life, humanity, and architecture. Topics include: the basics of Nanotechnology (molecular engineering); biotech variations on Nanotechnology; future construction (or biological growth) systems of buildings; brain enhancement; advanced visualization, design, and problem-solving techniques. Students will explore methods of dealing with today’s most extraordinary and possibly most important problem: how to understand, predict, and plan for a future that is inconceivable, a future where the dichotomies of concern today: life/death, wealth/poverty, war/peace, or any physical limitations as we know them will no longer exist or have any meaning.

D 6
History & Theory of Architectural Design
3 units
Some systems of design and proportion originated as early as 5000 years ago. These were passed from culture to culture, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Romans to Western Europe. The same systems are applied throughout Muslim and Asian architecture. These systems are used to this day, and when used well, are the “secret” behind virtually every great building. We will study the methods in detail. We will introduce the historic high points of major ancient world cultures: Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Northern Europe, (Stonehenge), Greece, Rome, Byzantine, Muslim, Indian, Chinese and Japanese. We will study design methods of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Visionary, Organic, and Contemporary Architecture. Students also study the design methods of Antonio Gaudi, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Note: This core course is required for all degree students and is coordinated with T-1 and D-1.

D 7
Case Studies in Organic Architecture & Eco Design
3 units
Leading Bay Area architects, designers, and builders will describe what they do and how they do it.  From the front lines:  instructive in showing real-world problems in making buildings happen, and inspiring in showing the extraordinary possibilities of nature-based architecture. This course features recent work by Daniel Liebermann, Penny Livingston (permaculture), Matt Taylor (visionary creative design), Karen Holden (poetry & architecture) Glen Small, Fred Stitt (learning architecture on the web) Phil Hawes (alternative education in alternative construction)

D 11
Sketch In The City
3 units
In this class, students participate in freehand sketching on location at notable San Francisco sites. A thoroughly pleasant, energizing, and eye opening experience for developing your freehand drawing skills. Includes pencil, pen, and pastel media.

D 12
Graphic Design with PhotoShop & Illustrator
3 units
Learn computer graphic design and rendering skills in Sketchup, PhotoShop, and Adobe Illustrator. Emphasis on presentation skills and support for entering real-world design competitions.

D 13
Architectural Freehand Drawing
3 units
In this class, students learn how to use drawing to solve problems and communicate their designs. Instruction is presented in four parts:
Freehand Environmental Drawing, 2-D Freehand Drawing, 3-D Freehand Drawing, Media & Presentation Techniques. Anyone can learn to draw and draw well. Anyone who draws can do it better, especially in this free, supported and collaborative environment. This class follows the groundbreaking techniques of Betty Edwards and her books: The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook.

D 14
Perspective Drawing & Rendering
3 units
This course is an excellent introduction to the principles and techniques of manual perspective drawing and rendering. This course is an independent, self-paced study course delivered via videotape.

D 15        
Building Planning & Drafting
3 units
Proven techniques for planning buildings and drafting them to scale in the fastest time possible. The problems with old methods and the advantages of fast-track design and drafting are clearly demonstrated. Hands-on work is done in class, so students learn every technique immediately on the spot. Whether you are new to the design professions or well versed in conventional methods, this course will equip you with the latest, best, and most efficient methods for creating and drawing your design ideas. The course includes the basic principles of rational planning and design and how to avoid the most common mistakes architects make in planning, drafting, and visual composition.

D 16
Perspective & Rendering: Techniques of Presentation
3 units
The quality of presentation of design is often as important to the acceptance of a project as the design ideas themselves. This course demonstrates professional visual presentation techniques, graphic composition and media.
Note: This course is an independent self- instruction via videotape lessons. These excellent videotapes clearly demonstrate all aspects of perspective drawing including quick perspectives and finish-perspective composition; rendering of shades and shadows; varied lighting conditions, simple graphic techniques for drawing people and vegetation in perspective rendering.

D 17
Life Drawing
3 units
Nothing helps eye hand coordination in drawing, composition sensitivity, visualization, freehand sketching and media skills as much as drawing the human form and other natural objects. This course includes the basics of visualization, shade and shadow rendering, and techniques for successful use of varied media such as pencil, pen, charcoal, and pastels.

D 19
Model Building
3 units
This class provides an introduction to design through model making, introspective exploration, and experimentation through 3-dimensional media. Learn to do site models, massing, quick study models; the professional techniques of making full presentation models; uses of abstract landscape features, color, and photography.

D 20
Architectural Illustration & Rendering
3 units
Architectural Illustration provides a fun, comprehensive survey of graphic techniques that you can use to communicate your ideas.

D 21
Math & Geometry for Creative Design, Part I
3 units
This class provides extremely useful, little known tools to enhance perception and design processes. The inner workings of the universe around us, from the structure of minerals to the growth patterns of plants, are best understood by recreating the harmonic mathematical patterns that underlie all natural phenomena. These patterns are also behind the world’s greatest architecture. Most public education excludes the poetry and creativity of mathematics so most adults fear or loathe the subject. Using a visual approach with polyhedra, tiling’s, proportion, gnomons, and magic squares, this course demonstrates the workings of the mathematical mind and includes the history of geometrical and mathematical ideas from India, Arabia, Persia and Greece.

D 22
Math & Geometry for Creative Design, Part II
3 units
This class is a continuation of D-21. D-22 will continue themes of D-21, concentrating of four modules: Polygons, Space Forms, Curves, and Numbers. Once again, a hands-on approach exploring exciting forms. Investigating flowers, folding, fabric, knots and more.

D 22.1
Math Lab
3 units
By popular demand! For students enrolled on D-21 and D-22. This course gives students extra time for further in-studio work and questions. Includes visiting speakers and tutorials for forgotten mathematics.

D 23
Design For Human Behavior
3 units
This has been one of our highest-rated classes, a lifelong resource for students. Includes: How people use and respond to the space around them, Exploring the field of environmental psychology, Design approaches in sync with human feeling, Personal space and social space, Defensible space and healing space, daylighting and color, Awareness and perception. Required textbook: A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander, et. al.

D 24
Architectural Ornament: From Ur to Goff
3 units
This is a hands-on course.  Students start with simple, geometric patterns and organizing principles, then explore architectural ornament and its place and purpose in architecture. Students will need a simple but good compass, straightedge, pencils, pens, and media of their choosing. Computer graphics are okay too.

D 25
Creating Your Portfolio
3 units
Gather or finish up your previous work, and create presentation ready graphics for your own personal portfolio. This course includes instruction in presentation graphics, photo and collage techniques, graphic design and drawing skills.

D 26
Problem Seeking: Designing Buildings That Work
3 units
You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from others’ mistakes. Becoming an expert in any type of building starts by understanding what’s wrong with most buildings of that type. That requires observing exterior and interior spaces, circulation, graphics, lighting, air quality, materials, appurtenances, and details. This “problem-seeking” discovery process will put you miles ahead of most designers, who have never learned to apply such analysis to the buildings they design. Students receive detailed Operational Analysis Checklists, visit buildings of special interest, and provide weekly summaries of their “Observations and Recommendations.” Students can work alone or team up with others. Photo documentation is encouraged but not mandatory. Besides identifying what’s most wrong with selected building types, students will learn how to invent new ideas to upgrade and radically improve the design of these building types. Requires visits to ten buildings representing five or more types of your choosing (two buildings per week). Building types can include housing, museums, stores, restaurants, shopping malls, libraries, or any others of your choice, such as medical, entertainment, educational, or office buildings.

D 27
The Organic Design Process
3 units
This studio introduces and explores, through weekly design projects, principles that guide students in the process of designing everything from a teacup to a city. The principles of human scale, proportion, modularity, grammar (design language), context integration, continuity (plasticity), craftsmanship, democracy, sustainability, and beauty infuse an organic design process in creating an integrated whole from many parts. In addition to theory statements, examples and applications, attention will be given to presentation techniques and drawing, as part of the design process. Students will supply their own drafting supplies and/or model-making materials.

D 28
On Growth & Form
3 units
This course is a basis for understanding the internal organizing principals of natural growth processes. Includes readings and analysis of growth geometries and patterns from the most provocative and influential book in all of 20th century biology: On Growth & Form, by D’Arcy Thompson. Thompson pursued life’s forms mathematically whether fantastic or mundane, seeking to understand the relationship between form and function. The class will follow an abridged selection of the original book. Discussion will follow each reading to answer questions, discuss Thompson’s revolutionary ideas, and consider the implications for design.

D 31
Creative Self Expression in Writing & Architecture
3 units
A salon style workshop of self-discovery, writing, and design. The instructor is Karen Holden, poet and author of The Book of Changes, and creative resource at the Frank Lloyd Wright School.

D 33
Visionary Design & Media
3 units
In this class students learn how to use abstract composition to find new design ideas and forms. Ideas and inspiration come from the heart of their creative imagination. Many examples of visionary architecture are shown and explained, along with professional media techniques.

D 34
Clientology & Pattern Language
3 units
This class shows how to see your client as your first resource and inspiration for design. An exploration of the professional design process, utilizing client-centered communication and the principles of Pattern Language, as articulated by Christopher Alexander. Includes client-architect role playing and hands-on demonstrations of how to integrate clients’ living patterns and values in a nature-sensitive environment.

D 35
Design of Landscapes for Art & Education, Ecology & Community
3 units
This is a special project intern course working with artist and landscape architect Bonnie Sherk, the OMI-Excelsior Living Library and Think Park.

D 37
Designing Learning & Living Spaces For Kids
3 units
Hypotheses: Good architecture is good for the mind. Rational architecture teaches reason. Beautiful architecture teaches aesthetics. Imaginative architecture rewards and opens up the senses. This research course will explore everything that would be most needed and desired in new spaces for children. It’s a course in defining design problems, solving them, and creating criteria for prototype design of the most desirable educational and living environments. Participants will explore the primary problems and deficits of existing design for children, look at the best ideas currently in use, seek visionary new alternatives, and establish new standards and ideas for future design.

D 38
Studio: To Design A House
3 units
A focused exploration of the professional design process, utilizing client-centered communication and the principles of Pattern Language, as articulated by Christopher Alexander. Includes client-architect role playing and hands-on demonstrations of how to integrate clients’ living patterns and values in a nature-sensitive environment.

D 39
Architecture & Human Behavior
3 units
This course deals with environmental psychology; how people use and respond to the spaces around them. Includes pattern language; defensible space; healing space; design methods that are in sympathy with human emotion. Learn how people use and respond to the spaces around them

D 41
Design Build: The Interior Environment
3 units
This course shows how to apply the principles of Organic Architecture to interior design and the design and building interior space. Includes training in how to design the objects we have closest contact with, how to use craftsman tools, and how to work well with wood, metal, an other materials.

D 42
3 units
This is a design studio course that considers structures and environments at a variety of large scales, from small towers, bridges and islands, to satellites and planets. A semester of brainstorms, art, and research. This is a fun yet serious investigation of the future.

D 46
Glass Art
3 units
Glass is one of the perennial materials of architecture with almost unlimited aesthetic possibilities. This is a hands-on introduction to basic glass fusing and slumping. Glass fusing is the process of cutting and assembling compatible pieces of glass, then heating the pieces until they melt together into one unit. Slumping is a technique of using gravity and heat to shape glass in a kiln. With care and diligence, results can be stunningly beautiful. Topics include: glass types, cutting and assembly; color theory, design and layout; wire and foil inclusions; and surface decoration. No prior knowledge or experience of working with glass is necessary; bring your creativity and your willingness to experiment. Students may opt to purchase basic tools and glass through the instructor or obtain a supply list.

D 61
The Nature of Order Seminar
3 units
In this course, we will dive into Christopher Alexander’s landmark publication, The Nature of Order, Volume One: The Phenomenon of Life. This course is a graduate-level reading, discussion and exploration seminar. It is open to anyone with an open heart and inquiring mind, Timeless attributes of space, nature and design, Scientific and intuitive perspectives on beauty, The Fifteen Fundamental Properties, Methods for determining the degree of life in a design, Function and ornament, The interrelated roles of objectivity and feeling in your design work. By the end of this course, students will have powerful and practical new skills for creating beautiful places. Textbook: The Nature of Order, Volume One: The Phenomenon of Life. This is a lifetime investment.

D 70
Egyptian Architecture
3 units
Learn how Western civilization was born on the Nile in 2800 B.C. Now, nearly 5,000 years later, Egypt is still a mind-boggling panorama of ancient arts, crafts, artifacts, and engineering. This course covers, in detail, the religions, geography, politics, chronology, archaeology and architectural wonders of this stunningly beautiful country.

D 80
Buddhist Architecture: Principles of Design of Buddhist Shrines & Temples
The Buddhist tradition has produced some of the finest art and architecture in history. But that tradition has been diluted in modern times, and many of the original Buddhist design principles that guided the great masterworks have been lost or forgotten. This course reviews the history, divisions, and current movements in Buddhism and how to design in relationship to Buddhist culture, from simple shrines to pagodas, to meditation pavilions, to monastery temples. Students will submit graphic displays of study on any aspect of the topic they choose. Students may do a Buddhist shrine design project.