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Macro / Micro // Huiyuan Leland Li


As a fifth year graduate student, I highly appreciate that the College of Architecture, Planning and Design provides a vast span of architectural typologies to study. In our first four academic years, we designed civic, institutional, cultural, environmental, religious, and housing projects. Consequently, our graduates are typically competent working in firms that practice in these realms. However, can we confidently say we are ready to be a comprehensive architect? My answer is “not quite”.


During my academic experience, my greatest desire was to produce my actual architectural product and see it used by people. As an architectural student, I clearly know my shortcomings - lacking connection between schematic design and real world construction. Without rational construction knowledge, schematic design would forever remain on trace paper or in the computer. In my fourth year, I conceptualized details to produce construction documents in Revit, yet the final products are still far away from the professional level. As the master architect Mies van der Rohe says: “God is in the details.” Looking back to these masterful builders, we can see that the design concept, environmental atmosphere and aesthetics are all bound together through well executed details. A sophisticated architect has the capability to, on one hand, create a MACROSCOPIC concept in a broad scale, and on the other hand, control the MICROSCOPIC architecture with attention to detail and awareness of craft.

Macroscopic Thinking

Sketching, Model Making

Form Space & Functions

Render Reality

Microscopic Thinking

Prototyping, Crafting

Detailing, joining

Material Property Realities

This is why I prefered to gain the experience to develop my detailing skills with the design+make studio. el dorado inc. and design+make, provide a unique opportunity to connect architectural design with real world projects.

In the reStart housing and Hardesty Renaissance projects, Professor David Dowell encouraged us to design furniture pieces with architectural consideration. During the process of manufacturing, we gained experiences on steel welding, wood crafting and fabric sewing. We also learned how materials join through constructing connection details. I appreciate that design+make fulfills my desire to build something real and think microscopically about design through making.

Written by Huiyuan Leland Li

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