Assistant professor of architecture provides new opportunities for students.
After joining the College of Arts and Sciences in the Fall, Daniel López-Pérez assists architecture faculty members in building the new Bachelor of Arts architecture degree program.
Only one week after the USD Board of Trustees approved architecture as the 28th major for the College of Arts and Sciences, five undergraduates have already declared the major. The new major, which adds to the visual art and art history majors in the Art Department, provides students the opportunity to approach a four year degree in architecture from a liberal arts or humanistic perspective. Assistant Professor Daniel López-Pérez says this is an important component of the degree that the College of Arts and Sciences can uniquely offer students. In four years of study, students can complete a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture that prepares them not only for a professional graduate program in architecture, but also for careers in landscape architecture, interior design, urban planning, historic preservation, civil engineering, real estate, and for further study in art and architectural history. López-Pérez commented that "this is truly an interdisciplinary approach to architectural education where architecture is considered a cultural practice."
It was the interdisciplinary vision for the program within the College of Arts and Sciences that attracted López-Pérez to USD. His own research conducted while attending Princeton’s Department of Architecture PhD program looked at the theoretical and historiographical writings on the skyscraper, linking this work to the technical and aesthetic innovations of the skyscraper. Along with his academic research, López-Pérez also worked as project architect on a variety of large scale international projects for David Chipperfield Architects in London, and Foreign Office Architects in New York, where he was part of the United Architects Team for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s World Trade Center Ideas competition.
López-Pérez joins Department Chair and Associate Professor Can Bilsel, PhD and Assistant Professor Juliana Maxim, PhD in the instruction of architecture courses for the major and minor programs. Specifically, López-Pérez instructs USD students in architectural design studios, which explore a more synthetic relationship between form and its function. The work in the design studio combines digital processes with material methods of fabrication in search of concepts that are informative both for pedagogical and practical innovation. This semester students in the design studio are conducting research on a component of the brief for the San Diego Airport redesign, or "The Green Build". As students consider the current concept for a "smart curb" they must not only analyze its spatial potential, but how this design will allow for the airport to be more sustainable. Students consider a variety of programmatic and material variables that form the basis for the performance of the smart curb such as how traffic is impacted by the design, how this area will be lighted, what type of heating and cooling will be necessary, and how these are affected by the natural environment, creating new shade or blocking natural sunlight. Throughout the design process the students are in constant consultation with the professionals currently working on the project by involving them in presentations and reviews. This is an amazing opportunity for undergraduate students of architecture to study a project as it is simultaneously being designed and realized in practice. López-Pérez stressed that this is an important aspect of the architecture degree at USD, "the emphasis that research can happen at any level of a student’s career. Our first year architecture students are engaging in some very exciting research that directly impacts their local community."
During the fall semester students participated in the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s competition and submitted a project titled "From Spheres to Atmospheres" which re-imagined the space of college libraries, using USD's Copley Library as a case study. Central to the design presented by the architecture students was the idea that the library is a place where all disciplines meet, and where truly multi-disciplinary research could take place. Considering the needs of all USD students and faculty, the project also studied how the visual ascetics, lighting, ventilation, and sound create and contribute to a more integrated environment leading to new research practices. The collaborative competition proposal submitted by the design studio sought to produce a more holistic atmosphere that could be enjoyed by the entire USD community.
These research experiences combined with the liberal arts education of USD provide for a well rounded architecture degree that prepares students for a variety of fields. For more information about the architecture major please visit www.sandiego.edu/architecture or contact the Department of Art at (619) 260-2280 to make an appointment with Department Chair, Can Bilsel, PhD.
To view some of the work conducted by undergraduate architecture students please visit the exhibit "Spheres & Atmospheres" on display, Monday, March 1, 2010 – Friday, April 16, 2010 in Copley Library during normal library hours. For more information about this exhibit please vist the events listing.
In celebration of the new major, this exhibition will have an opening reception on Friday, March 19th, 2010 at 3:30p.m. in Copley Library. In addition, a lecture and presentation by some of the participating students whose work is in the exhibition will take place on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 10a.m. in the Copley Library Seminar Room.