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Architecture as Catalyst 1913/2013/2113

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The Architecture as Catalyst program is an innovative feature of the School's graduate M.Arch curriculum that occurs each year in the middle of the spring semester. In this award-winning program, professional degree students in architecture step out of the day-to-day curriculum to work with small teams of faculty in safe havens that encourage high-risk work. Through catalyst workshops students gain the confidence to grapple with large messy problems and become impassioned to ask very big questions and fearlessly probe in specific and tangible ways. Each workshop is led by a host UMN faculty member in conjunction with an invited guest instructor from outside the University. The visiting faculty help provide novel insights and techniques for students, and they are typically recognized leaders within their field or specialty. Each guest also delivers a public lecture during the week; all events are open to the public and provide a chance for local designers to hear from some of the world's most creative practitioners.

This year's Catalysts are organized under the broad theme of "1913/2013/2113." The theme is inspired by the School's upcoming Centennial in 2013, and the intent is to use this moment as an opportunity to think concurrently about the past, present, and future of architectural design. Each of the workshops has incorporated this theme by framing the respective topic in terms of both looking back to history and projecting forward to the future.

Support for the Architecture as Catalyst program is provided by the Cass Gilbert Fund and Target.

Date: 03/11/2013 - 03/15/2013

Location: Rapson Hall

Cost: Free

Schedule of Events:

Design Thinking in an Automated World - Nathan Miller
Auto Erotica - Daniel Friedman

Discussion on Convergent Practices - Kiel Moe & Billie Faircloth
Spatializing Systems - Karen Lewis

The Importance of Play and Humor in Creative Design - Barry Kudrowitz

Architecture as Catalyst: Exhibition and Studio Presentations


Name: Adam Marcus
Phone: 612.624.2554
Sponsored by: College of Design

Architecture Launches MS-RP Degree


Starting this spring, the School of Architecture will offer a new
concentration in research practices within their master of science in
architecture degree (MS-RP) for students starting the fall of 2013.
The program aims at halving the amount of time from high school to
licensure for architects--from an average of 14.5 years to 7.

By offering this model, the School of Architecture nudges the
profession toward true culture change, one that expects all students
to be licensed upon graduation, regardless of their final career
choices. It also takes advantage of recent changes to the National
Council of Architectural Registration Board's Intern Development
Program and Architect Registration Examination, and leverages the
historically strong connection between practice and academy in the
Minneapolis/St Paul community.

The research practices concentration is intended primarily for:

- Current M. Arch. students who seek a concurrent-degree.

- Individuals with professional degrees in architecture. (B. Arch, M. Arch)

Given the professional research basis of the Research Practices Concentration, previous studies in architecture are required. This may include B.Arch or M.Arch.

It is highly recommended that applicants have sufficient professional background including at least half of the required IDP hours (approximately 2800 hours). Those lacking sufficient training or preparation in professional practice areas may be admitted contingent upon completion of one course in each area (up to 3 courses) before registration as a graduate student.

To learn more, visit

Third Nature Catalyst at Northern Spark

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The second annual Northern Spark, on June 9th and 10th, featured 200 artists, 120 projects, 10 food trucks, five Minneapolis neighborhoods, and a handful of Architecture students from the College of Design.

The students, who took Blaine Brownell's Third Nature Catalyst course in Spring of 2012, displayed their work along the Mississippi River Parkway near the 3rd Ave Bridge in Minneapolis. The course looked at cross-overs and hybrid conditions characterizing a "third nature", where computationally generated form and technology in architecture are integrated by design with ecological materials and natural processes.

Teams were instructed to design wetware habitable cladding (wood dwelling spaces that will eventually rot away) for various locations along a pedestrian bridge. Once installed, the cladding would provide homes for various native insects, as well as a food source and shelter for migrating birds. Students worked with driftwood or reused wood and 3D imaging tools to create their final designs.


McGinley is one of nine students selected to present a paper on her research. She is the only presenter at the international conference for Latin American architecture students from a university in the United States. McGinley's research examines the endemic urban sinkhole condition in San Salvador as a potential opportunity to migrate Salvadorans to more sustainable water use habits in their homes and places of employment. She will gather additional information while in El Salvador to complete her M.S. thesis, Sinking MASS: readily adaptable sustainable design for the masses.