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Great Expectations | AP Design // Katie Bauer


The structure of a fifth year architecture studio at Kansas State University, College of Architecture, Planning and Design was a always a mystery to me. Now that I have experienced it, I understand what is written in the syllabus does not always come to fruition. Three out of the five studios had to switch projects due to cancellations or lack of funding. This left faculty and students grumbling about the lack of studio organization. These series of events raise a fundamental question; what is appropriate for a final masters thesis studio?

A traditional masters thesis is heavily based in theoretical academia. It requires extensive research and a written document for one project. As AP Design prides themselves in providing opportunities to make the transition from academia to career, a traditionally written thesis does not align with this goal. Stephanie Rolley, head of the Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning department, describes the final masters thesis year, as “one of the most independent programs in the country”. The shift to a more pragmatic studio would challenge students to gain an understanding of client relationships, the ability to multi-task, and ultimately would help students become competitive amongst their peers entering the profession.

el dorado inc. Design + Make studio is the first studio that has departed from the traditional approach. The studio is arranged like that of a working design firm where each studio member is responsible for a directorship. Rather than writing a 100 page book filled with research, we have developed blog posts that make clear succinct arguments which are accessible via our website. Working closely with eldorado inc., we have been exposed to contingency plans, developing relationships with clients, budgets, time constraints and more. These are relevant practical skills that are more commonly applicable to the workplace than a theoretically developed project.

The College of Architecture is the first department among Landscape Architecture Regional Planning and Interior Architecture Product Design, to depart from a traditional masters thesis. This departure from the traditional shouldn't be viewed as a disappointment but seen as progression. To create the strongest candidates possible for workplace it is necessary to provide these pragmatic opportunities during the final year of formal education.

Written by Katie Bauer

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