Studio: Jim Vlock Building ProjectYale School of ArchitectureSpring 2001 – Ongoing
Started in 1967 by a band of Yale architecture students frustrated by what they regarded as a lack of social awareness and a paucity of political activism in the architectural profession, the Building Project has since been cemented as a core part of Yale's curriculum for first-year students.link to course
Over the past half century, studio incarnations have produced an array of building types: small structures that include band-shells, beach and park pavilions, as well as almost thirty houses in as many years built in and around New Haven.
Since 2004, Alan Organschi has served as coordinator of the Building Project. In that time, the Building Project has shifted toward a focus on affordable housing, partnering with local nonprofits such as Neighborhood Housing Services and NeighborWorks New Horizons. The studio examines the problem of constructing spaces of the small urban home through varying angles: through historical precedent and as a theoretical position, as a social construct; as one unit of an urban system; as a generator of infrastructures and consumer of ecosystem services; through the dimensions of the human body at rest and in motion; through the building envelope as a technology and as a mediator between the intimate and the unfamiliar; as a point of engagement with a range of neighborhood stakeholders. This inclusive approach to the design-build model is best understood as a radical extension of Charles Eames' description of the design process as the recognition of constraints and one's willingness and enthusiasm to work within them.
Portman Visiting CriticGeorgia Institute of TechnologySpring 2019
Studio: Advanced SustainabilityYale School of Architecture / Aalto Univ.Fall 2018
The LifeCycle Studio: Architectural Research and Design in Advanced Sustainability explores advanced approaches to the design of sustainable buildings in the urban housing sector.link to course
Guided by circular economic principles and armed with tools that include dynamic modeling of buildings’ lifecycles and analyses of alternative industrial material flows, students conduct research and develop designs for new modes and configurations of urban dwelling that incorporate materials and energy supply systems drawn from renewable sources and industrial and consumer waste streams. By considering both upstream ecological benefits and downstream improvements in public health, students engage some of the most deeply entrenched problems of contemporary global society: housing and social equity for a rapidly expanding and urbanizing global population, the over-consumption of planetary resources, and the role of building production and operation in driving climate change. Ultimately, the studio examines—through its own collective design work and an accompanying research program—the ways in which circular economic principles can promote a new design culture, one that leverages abundant and underutilized environmental resources as it seeks to address pressing global environmental crises.
Lecture: Building TechnologyYale School of ArchitectureSpring 2010 – Spring 2018
This course examines the role of material and procedure in the formation of architecture and the physical, logistical, and environmental constraints and demands that shape the processes of construction.link to course
In the first half of the term, a sequence of lectures surveys the conceptual concerns and technological factors of building: the origin and processing of the major classes of building materials; their physical properties, capacities, and vulnerabilities to physical and environmental stressors; the techniques used to work those materials; and the principles, procedures, and details of building assembly. Corresponding construction examples and case studies of mid-scale public buildings introduce students to the exigencies that so often influence decision making in the technical process and inflect (and potentially enrich) design intention—regulatory requirement, physical and environmental stress and constraint, procedural complication, labor and material availability and quality, energy consumption, and ecological impact. After spring recess and in coordination with the studio design phase of the Building Project, the course turns to the detailed study of light wood-frame construction. Five lectures with practical exercises track the stages of construction of the single-family house and supplement ongoing design development of the Building Project house. In both its direct technical application to the work in the studio and its exploration of more general themes in current construction practice, the course seeks to illuminate the ecological considerations as well as the materials, means, and methods that are fundamental to the conception and execution of contemporary building.
Studio: New Haven: Timber CityRoger Williams School of ArchitectureSpring 2017
Conducted by Gray Organschi Architecture as the Teaching Firm-in-Residence, this studio explores the potential of high performance wood architecture in an experimental timber district. Through the design of a series of building types positioned on sliver sites that edge New Haven’s historic 9th Square district, students test the capacity of an ancient building material—wood—to produce beautiful and innovative architecture in the contemporary city while investigating its capacity for mitigating fossil fuel consumption.
The studio addresses issues of global resource consumption and city building and will discover the potential of wood fiber—cellulose—to produce a low-energy-impact approach to construction that provides essential carbon sequestration, through building the city in wood.
Studio: Macro/MicroRoger Williams School of ArchitectureFall 2015
Conducted by Gray Organschi Architecture as the Teaching Firm-in-Residence, the Macro Micro studio explores the potential of high performance wood architecture in an experimental timber district in central Providence. Through the design of a district biomass energy plant, a live-work facility, an urban ecological public park and a pedestrian bridge, students test the capacity of an ancient building material—wood—to produce innovative architecture in the contemporary city while investigating its capacity for mitigating fossil fuel consumption.
Wood, the only truly renewable building material, can be both a construction system and an energy system. The studio grapples with both Macro issues of global resource consumption and city building and Micro-scale work on the potential of wood fiber—cellulose—to produce a low-energy-impact approach to building while providing essential carbon sequestration.
Seminar: CarbonYale School of ArchitectureFall 2014
Studio: Timber InnovationYale School of ArchitectureFall 2014
This research studio conducted through the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professorship explores the potential of new timber technologies in contemporary high-performance urban architecture in an experimental timber district in and around Ball Island on the Mill River, in New Haven. Through the design of four urban building types and their associated structural morphologies, students test the capacity of a natural building material to produce beautiful and innovative architecture in the contemporary city.
The challenge is this: how do we take all the timber that we use to build suburbia and, instead, shift it into new, high-performance configurations and applications to build dense, vibrant cities? How do we transform one of the largest sectors of our economy by providing a strong tug on the rural supply chain and, in doing so, turn our cities from carbon sources into carbon sinks?
Studio: High School for Environmental LearningRoger Williams School of ArchitectureSpring 2013
Conducted by Gray Organschi Architecture as the Teaching Firm-in-Residence, the studio is intended to teach students to develop a project at all scales and to clarify and master project concept as executed through plan, section and material. Students are given workshops in applicable drawing programs, including Rhino and Illustrator. They document their projects in digital and physical models and in drawing, using various programs and hand-drawing.
Students learn how to analyze an urban site and a complex program and develop an architectural project that is conceptually rigorous and architecturally and spatially competent and compelling.
Studio: Architectural DesignRoger Williams School of ArchitectureFall 2011
Conducted by Gray Organschi Architecture as the Teaching Firm-in-Residence, the studio explores the architectural remediation, revitalization, and reuse of a particular type of damaged and neglected site common to the contemporary American city: the mega-structural ruin. Lacking the romantic and touristic allure of the massive ancient monument or the recognizable necessity of similarly unappealing but otherwise functional contemporary infrastructure like the highway overpass or the cell tower, the defunct civic mega-structure is truly abject.
It represents the detritus of another generation’s hubris, the residue of a grandparent’s unshared architectural, social, and political passions and ideologies with no particular functional or apparent cultural relevance. And yet its sheer physical presence, the investment of material, energy, and money bound up in its structure, and the urban pattern and mythology that have formed around it, pose a vexing problem for contemporary city administrators and planners seeking to reshape the city and who choose to resort to demolition as an initial instrument of urban development. For the purposes of this studio, though, the mega-structural ruin serves as a source of inquiry, research, and experimentation at scales ranging from urban policy to material detail.
Studio: Architectural DesignRoger Williams School of ArchitectureFall 2010