By John Nagao
VMDO Principal Joe Celentano, AIA is teaching a course at James Madison University that will help 3rd and 4th year interior design students better understand the art and science of construction, or tectonics, as it relates to architecture. Materials and Methods I aims to give students a working vocabulary for building construction to help them develop a more integrated design process. Readings in sustainability and building construction will be paired with hands-on workshops to foster a tactile understanding of different types of building materials and their applications. Throughout the course, students will use and learn about different materials in order to construct a collaborative final project at the end of the semester.
An important aspect of the course is sustainability – the focus of the first few weeks of class and an underlying narrative for the entire course. Priming students to think in terms of sustainable design will help provide a framework for their course work and close any initial gaps in understanding. The physical building process will be highlighted with site visits to Duke Hall, JMU’s new fine arts building currently under construction, and Wayland Hall, a VMDO residence hall renovation that has achieved LEED-Platinum status. Guest speakers, including MEP designer Bob Crowell of Charlottesville-based 2rw Consultants, will help students learn about the mechanical systems of modern buildings. Practical knowledge will be encouraged through a combination of tactile fabrication and visual exercises. Joe’s recent trip to Switzerland inspired one such exercise: students will undertake a virtual deconstruction of a wood and stone farm building and analyze the construction and configuration of the simple structures.
Want more of the VMDO collegiate experience? Stay tuned! Next semester JMU will offer two courses taught by VMDO architects. Dina Sorenson will teach a course entitled “Professional Practice,” and Daniel Mowrey will teach a course focusing on design software. Stay tuned for more exciting offerings!