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Exploring the evolution of design-build courses in architectural schools: A qualitative study

Zunaibi B Abdullan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study explored the growth and significance of a series of architecture courses categorized as "Design-build" -- hands-on courses that teach students how to design and construct -- at a number of NAAB accredited architectural schools in the US. The element of Design-build has evolved since the formalization of architecture education and the number of schools offering the course continues to expand. The significance of the Design-build courses in enhancing the value of architecture education is supported by the emerging themes derived from the perception of the participants in this study. The methodology for this study was based on exploratory qualitative research methods, examining three aspects of the Design-build course--the schools' curricula, the participants' perceptions and the instructors' perceptions. Design-build courses at sixteen institutions were studied, compared and contrasted. This research found: 1) the courses were started by Design-build advocates who believed that teaching students construction skills added relevant value to traditional studio design; 2) the participants perceived a significant value in terms of practical knowledge and identified emerging themes relating design principles to real life building issues; and 3) the relevance of the Design-build experience to the administrative and organizational realities of the practicing architect. Addressed in this study were the many benefits derived from Design-build learning, perceived as informing and enriching the value of architectural education, the variety of teaching approaches and pedagogies, and participants' expectations in Design-build courses. Results from this study demonstrate that the Design-build concept is highly relevant to architectural education. Recommendations indicate a need for architecture programs to be alert to the challenges that are faced in integrating Design-build courses into a university or college architectural curriculum.

Subject Area

Design|Instructional Design|Industrial arts education|Architecture

Recommended Citation

Abdullan, Zunaibi B, "Exploring the evolution of design-build courses in architectural schools: A qualitative study" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3629987.