"There's no program, but there is a client," explains architect Dirk Denison of the studio he's conducting at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) with longtime friend film critic Jonathan Miller. The two instructors and 12 upper-level undergraduate and graduate students meet in Room 214 of 3410 South State St.—a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe less than 50 yards south of the renowned Crown Hall, but so unremarkable that IIT can only place its construction between 1945 and 1953.

  • Space/Intention/Media/Info/Duration
Instructors: Dirk Denison, Jonathan Miller 
Students: 12 
Schedule: M, W, F, 2-6

    Credit: Maxwell MacKenzie

    Instructors: Dirk Denison, Jonathan Miller
    Students: 12
    Schedule: M, W, F, 2-6

The studio's nonexistent "program" is the development of abstract, media-based content for a temporary pavilion to be designed by Zaha Hadid and constructed in Millennium Park next summer, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago. For Marco Trusewych, a fifth-year undergraduate, the opportunity to be influenced by Hadid was appealing, and so was the challenge of a conceptual problem that wouldn't necessarily result in a building design. "They're open for you to be off the wall," he says of the critics. "But you have to really own your ideas."

"IIT is in a time warp," observes fourth-year undergrad Natalia Klusek. "Drawing 10,000 bricks isn't going to make you think critically," is how she describes some of her previous studios at the school. Klusek's early concept for this project—rendered in hand-drawn sketches, CAD plans, sections, and 3-D modeling—is a field of potentially sophisticated, engineered sticks that visitors might use for any number of purposes. "There's a social aspect to the proposal," says Miller during a critique—laying out a possible direction for her unorthodox solution to take.

2008 Education Issue

  • Marywood University to Open School of Architecture

    Marywood University, in Scranton, Pa., has announced a new school of architecture, the state's seventh. The school, which will begin enrolling students for the fall 2009 semester, will feature a strong focus on sustainable design.

  • The Mentor: R. Steven Lewis

    Reversing the low number of minority architects, says NOMA's new president, requires addressing future generations through nationwide community efforts and institutional partnerships.

  • A Higher Education

    Architecture education is often criticized for different reasons by different practitioners, but its strength is the breadth of what is taught today.

  • Studio: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Weijen Wang's 11 architecture students are getting a lesson in real-world school design that's not quite what they signed on for (just ask them). Not least because the clients are in China—in Sichuan Province's Beichuan County, which suffered a devastating earthquake last May.

  • Old School, New School: University of Virginia

    To redesign Campbell Hall, U.Va. architecture dean Karen Van Lengen hired her own faculty.