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Studio Culture Policy

Studio Culture Policy–2010


The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) asks that all schools of architecture have a written policy that describes the culture of the design studio and the expectations of students and faculty involved in studio based education. This policy should be based on the fundamental values of optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation between and among the members of its faculty, student body, administration, and staff. The design studio in the architecture programs is at the core of a student’s educational experience at Pratt. The design studio at Pratt is shaped by the three guiding principles of creativity, community, and commitment, incorporating all of the fundamental and positive values of a studio based education.


The design studio is a unique educational model where a class of 10 to 15 students produces creative design solutions for problems posed by the studio professor. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, but rather independent responses that are a product of critical thinking, discussion, and creative action.
The architectural and urban questions of today are often complex and unprecedented, asking students to imagine new and inventive solutions. Value is placed on a student’s ability to develop new methods of inquiry and experimentation.

A design studio is conducted as a series of open-ended discussions between students and faculty, where students propose ideas and faculty shape and guide development with formal and informal critiques. Students value the professional expertise of the faculty in helping guide development, while faculty value the perspectives and interests of students.

Individual Development
The studio sequence helps students find their own creative voice within the discipline of architecture. Studio content often communicates important professional and technical information, but ultimately requires that each student develop an individual response and point of view to both architectural problems and the discipline itself. In this way the studio experience shapes the student’s future contributions to the profession.


The design studio is a community in microcosm, as well as part of a larger academic community. Discussion and debate are conducted in a respectful manner, and students acquire an understanding of an architect’s ethical responsibilities toward communities, as well as the importance of other disciplines and activities outside of the discipline of architecture.

The design studio asks that students formulate their ideas as optimistic propositions that are intended to improve and inspire the communities they serve, underscoring the importance of professional ethics.

Design and architecture are inherently collaborative and trans-disciplinary. The studio method of critique and dialogue establishes a baseline of collaboration between student and faculty, but studios must offer regular opportunities for collaborative team work, as well as introducing other disciplines into the design process.

Students must learn that studio learning is balanced by other forms of learning, as well as the importance of knowledge and experience completely outside the discipline of architecture. Faculty must be aware of these needs and make every effort to allow students appropriate time for learning outside the studio, particularly in non-studio courses.


Design studio requires the highest commitment from students, faculty, and administration alike. Because of these overlapping commitments, students and faculty must recognize the importance of time management and the setting of priorities with clear guidelines and expectations.

Students are expected to attend all classes and critiques and commit the appropriate amount of time to develop their designs. Quality of time spent on studio work is more important than quantity, and students should make every effort to manage their time wisely in order to effectively complete all of their work. Students are excused from class for medical or family emergencies only. Faculty use their discretion to excuse any other absences, but even a single unexcused absence can result in a lowered grade or failure.

The School of Architecture recognizes the importance of both its full-time and part-time faculty, and asks for a full commitment from all of its professors relative to their assigned load. Faculty are required to fulfill their obligations in terms of total required hours of teaching, and they should make every effort to limit cancelled or changed class meeting times to one or two sessions per semester, in order to limit conflicts with non-studio classes or other activities. Any cancelled class must be re-scheduled and the class made up. No classes can be held outside of scheduled class times including re-scheduled classes unless the professor reaches agreement with his or her own students on the re-scheduled class time prior to the class.

The administration is committed to ensuring that that the studio environment fully supports the mission. The studio’s environment should be safe, comfortable, and technologically sophisticated to support the interests of faculty and students. The administration is also responsible for communicating this policy and managing conflicts.