Exclusive An Interview with Dave Martin, Chair, Architecture Department, Glendale City College
Los Angeles-native, educator and author David Martin has been teaching architecture since 1990. Martin is Assistant Division Chair of Technology and Aviation Division and Chair of the Architectural Department at Glendale Community College in Southern California and in the following interview, shared his insights into architecture and education with Plans & Permits magazine.
What are five things every student/non-pro has to have learned to be successful in architecture?
- Software knowledge. Students should know the current versions of architecture design software.
- Attention to detail. Be aware of the small things in your design. They could lead to big problems if ignored.
- Desire to learn. Even after school is finished, learn should still be a priority. Learning is a lifelong process.
- Problem solving ability. Look at a problem not a negative but as a positive. Problems should be challenges within the design.
- Good observations. Look at the work around you. Many designs grew from previous work. Observe how others solved the problem within their designs.
What are five things most non-pros have not learned?
- The architectural design process is not a linear process. As a designer goes through this process repeatedly, they will begin to understand the most efficient way to navigate it.
- The mechanics of building construction: specifically understanding of the various materials and methods used in different type of buildings.
- What the building department requires to approve and permit a building design for construction. They must visit the local building department to see what is required to obtain approval for a building as it differs from location to location.
- The importance of fire and life safety in building design and construction. Be aware of the code requirements that govern the shape and size of a building. Requirements vary widely based on the use of the building and the types of materials that are used.
- The importance of critique from peers when refining the building design. Don’t be afraid to ask someone else’s opinion about your design. Most designers naturally critique other’s work. (Even when not asked!)
What are five things professionals should avoid?
- Not asking for help with a design.
- Becoming too fixated on one option. Always have multiple choices available for the client.
- But do not give the client too many choices!
- Not considering construction techniques during the design process.
- Not being aware of structural considerations during the planning process of a building.
How can professionals help non-pros and can non-pros help professionals?
Architects are very busy people. They are constantly thinking of the multitude of choices and considerations that must be made during the design process.
Even after the design has been approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) there are still tasks that must be performed such as confirming that the construction documents are being followed during the building process.
Most architects realize and feel that part of their duty is to give back to the profession. Architecture is not just learned in a classroom or studio. The intern process is important to build the knowledge and confidence of a student of architecture. The architect can help facilitate this process by passing on the hard-won knowledge that they earned during their time as junior designers.
Students have something to offer as well. Just like other professions such as legal and medical, it is easy for a professional architect to become set in their ways. Even though continuing education is a requirement, usually they stick with what has worked in the past. A new architecture student does not have these preconceptions. They are a wealth of new ideas and can take a design in a direction that others may not have thought of.
What responsibility do architectural students have to the profession?
The architecture profession is constantly evolving. It is up to the up and coming architecture student to help make this happen.
What is the future of architectural engineering education?
The future of architecture education is a bright one. Buildings are not going away. Construction techniques/materials are changing all the time.
20 years ago, one of the most important aspects of drafting/design education was good linework and lettering. Now that Computer Aided Design (CAD) has become essential in the documentation process of a building, the knowledge of various software and support equipment such as printers is necessary.
3D Printing (aka Rapid Prototyping) equipment and laser cutters are being widely used. In the past models were made using museum board and were glued together. Pieces were hand cut and the model building process was a long and laborious process. Now, with new technology becoming less expensive, students can afford their own personal equipment and the time they spend on model building has grown shorter.
The way instruction is given is also changing. More and more on-line methods of education are being used. At the 5-year university level, students primarily learn in a studio environment. This will most like continue. However, theory instruction such as classes on Building Codes and Materials & Methods will take place on-line with either prerecorded lecture or within a real-time virtual classroom.
What is most important about teaching architecture?
Architectural Engineering education will continue to evolve. One of the most difficult things to do is to teach someone what you know. Despite the tools that are now available to do this, the most important thing is the passion to teach and the desire to learn.