Fay Jones School faculty and staff collaborate on ‘The Making of Things’ book


Photo submitted

A group of faculty and staff from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design recently released their book, “The Making of Things: Modeling Processes & Effects in Architecture.”

A group of faculty and staff at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design wanted to help students become better designers and design thinkers by providing a compendium of language and tools. So they wrote the book The Making of Things: Modeling Processes and Effects in Architecture.

They realized they could create something that was a combination of showing how to physically make things and understanding why someone could do something a certain way.

“As an educator, I think that’s part of where our students really need to grow is in intentionality and understanding why they want to do something and how to get the effects they’re trying. to get,” said Frank Jacobus, a partner. architecture teacher.

Jacobus collaborated on this book with Angela Carpenter, head of manufacturing labs and alumnus of the school; Rachel Smith Loerts, visiting architectural instructor and alumnus of the school; Justin Tucker, woodworking specialist and alumnus of the school; and Randal Dickinson, Digital Manufacturing Specialist. They began work on the book in 2018 and released their 298-page volume in fall 2021 via Routledge.

The ideas were rooted in the work that Carpenter and Smith Loerts had done in the school’s manufacturing labs to familiarize students with common manufacturing processes and also help them learn about the potentials of using the CNC router, 3D printers, laser cutters and other manufacturing equipment.

“We were trying to give a resource that they could look at and better understand processes and effects,” Smith Loerts said.

Jacobus said this work is an unusual hybrid of theory and process – since most work distinctly focuses on one or the other, but does not join them. “But it’s a necessary hybrid. If they really invest in both, I think it will make a youngster stronger in terms of design sensibility. So hopefully that’s what happens.”

The authors leveraged existing research on embodied cognition and visual dynamism, combining it with their collective knowledge of manufacturing methods and design fundamentals to come up with a comprehensive theory based on what they wanted the students learn. They created a taxonomy – based on architectonic theory, form language and construction – that illustrates the relationships and connections between architectonic elements. Also, they introduced a full range of tools used in model making.

The book explores architectonics – the way pieces and pieces fit together specific to architecture – and provides many visual examples and illustrations.

Although it can be read cover-to-cover, it is essentially a resource book that teaches various tools, the proper use of tools, processes, and the decisions designers might make and that could have an impact on a project.

“We theorize that architecture is composed primarily, if not entirely, of frames, planes, or solids, each of which includes an inherent language of forms and construction possibilities. The book visually plays out these possible variants,” Jacobus said.

As they explored these ideas, they realized they needed to create their own original content and objects for the book, then reference existing examples. In the end, they created 650 or more objects for the book – with another hundred that went unpublished. They hand-drawn most of their ideas, then several dedicated design students translated it all into a digital format.

They wanted to show students what these objects might look like as constructed works – that not only might they be ideas for making models, but also concepts that architects design and build. So they spent many hours online looking for existing examples of these objects. Under each object, in italics, they noted the name of an example of work and its designer.

For each of the objects, they described them through a list of several characteristics or effects. Under each object, they also noted the equipment and materials used to build it.

A pyramid-shaped frame object, for example, is described with these effects: strength, regularity, stasis, structure, self, boundary, crescendo, order, and rational. The example of a built structure is the Louvre Pyramid by IM Pei. The main method of construction uses woodworking tools and wood or plastic; the secondary method uses a laser cutter with wood or plastic.

Carpenter said the book covers all the tools available in Fay Jones School labs and helps students understand what tools they might use and why. Instead of always defaulting to the laser cutter, for example, it explains other options and the effects or results each can yield. It helps students align their actions with their goals.

“Because a laser cutter is going to give you a different effect on the edges than if you were to CNC machine that same part,” Carpenter said.

Model making is a tool students use to better understand shape, space, and gravity. Fay Jones School students start making them in their first year of design studio, to practice putting together the parts of a building.

“I think it’s part of a good design school’s process for students to move from 2D thinking to 3D thinking — and back and forth,” Smith Loerts said. “Every time a model is created, some resolution starts to happen.”

Jacobus said each model – through its materials and manufacturing process – already suggests ideas and intentions, even if students may not realize it. They can very simply try to physically express a concept.

“Experienced architects become good at reading the intentions in an object and know that the tools you make it with, the lines it contains, the material it is made of, its shape, etc. matter. It all matters.” said Jacobus. “So that’s mainly what the book is about: how do you make these decisions intentionally; how do you know what the thing you just did means, what are its effects, what kinds of experiences might it contribute to , etc.?”


Comments are closed.