Rhode Island School of Design Takes Hands-on Approach

The PCI-Funded architectural studio at the Rhode Island School of Design was started in the Spring 2014 semester. The Studio will occur as an elective after the conclusion of the structures sequence in the curriculum, spring semester, 3rd year graduate curriculum, or in the spring semester of 

the 4th or 5th year undergraduate curriculum. The Studio will be offered in four consecutive years with the expectation that this studio type “Materials and Making: One-to- One” continues on a yearly basis. It will be lead by Brett Schneider, Assistant Professor at RISD. 

This studio is designed create opportunities for serious engagement with industry as a strategy for learning about construction technology and the construction industry as a whole. RISD’s Department of Architecture is committed to exposing students to the design and fabrication of full-sized components of architecture. The PCI studio will provide comprehensive exposure to the precast industry. It will also serve as a case study for regular design studios in which full- size materials investigation can be made available to RISD Architecture students as a normal part of the educational experience, not simply a “one- off” learning opportunity.

The first iteration of the studio will focus on the design and execution of 1:1 architectural objects using the material of precast concrete.  The students will progress from research on the technical methods of fabrication to applications in scale models and full size castings with structural concrete.  Design of the objects will be guided by three parameters: open program defined as an object of interface, critical engagement with concrete as heavy or light, and application of particular method from initial research at the beginning of the semester.

Through the support of the PCI Foundation, PCINE, and nearby member fabricators, the studio includes multiple trips to nearby precast facilities to provide background on conventional methods of executing precast concrete elements and later as a location for pouring of the full scale components comprising the students’ design projects.
Additional technical workshops with students working as group will also be included to introduce general methods hands on – mixing and forming.