While function, economy and beauty have endured as sentries of contemporary architecture, architects often overlook the importance of the existing fabric of the cities and communities in which they work. The Mid City Studio aims to expose students to this critical part of their future roles in the profession while engaging the Baton Rouge community through thoughtful design, public engagement and collaboration. The studio is a required, community-based design course in the Bachelor of Architecture curriculum at LSU lead by Professors William Doran and Jason Lockhart. The studio is a service-learning course, which “ … integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities for the common good.”1 A quality service-learning experience should demonstrate excellence in community service and excellence in education. In other words, it should address critical community needs while building student leadership skills and reinforcing excellence in design.
The best way to make real architecture is by letting a building evolve out of the culture and place. ... without pretense ... a glimpse into what is essential to the future of American architecture, its honesty.2
|Students present work to community partners.|
Architects have a responsibility to carefully consider the places they work. Good architecture should be driven by a fervent relationship with its place – its culture, history and people – followed by a belief in the ability of humans to better their communities without a blockbuster budget or unbridled new development. This studio pushes architecture students to act as socially responsible professionals through the development of relevant, sustainable projects in their own communities. This means that we must not only consider buildings’ impact on the environment, but also on the communities in which they exist.
1. “Service-learning” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 July 2013. Web 07 August 2013.
2. Samuel Mockbee, FAIA; An Architecture of Decency