Interior Design and Architecture

December 2012

What’s in a name? For the Interior Design Program—which is changing its name to include architecture—a new name reflects not just a change in programming, but a change in culture. “We are pushing our students to think more conceptually and architecturally; to design more complex spaces, build more models, and design in section,” said Stephanie Travis, director of the program.

Both the undergraduate and graduate programs will adopt a studio-based core curriculum and increase from 45 to 60 required credits, beginning fall 2013 and fall 2014 respectively. And, thanks to recent and planned renovations the space will match the new studio culture.

“The studio is where the creativity happens; it’s a dynamic space,” said Travis. “More time in the studio will allow for further exchange of creative ideas and collaboration between students and professor.”

The studio course, which will increase from three to six credits, is where students will work on designs ranging from commercial projects (office, retail, and hospitality spaces) to institutional projects (healthcare, education, or culture spaces).

“More studio time will help students shift from divergent to convergent thinking—students must review one Big Concept over and over again as drawings and models are generated to test and refine one’s theory or idea,” explained Catherine Anderson, assistant professor of interior design. “This iterative stage of the design process is aided by the instructor who reviews each project carefully. Allowing more time for faculty to engage with the students will strengthen not only the assignments but develop better designers, thinkers, and problem-solvers.”

Beyond the revamped studio core curriculum, the program will require courses in the history of architecture and design, sustainability, freehand sketching, the latest computer graphics and architectural drafting programs. 

“We want our students to be well balanced in the artistic and technical sides of the profession, but first and foremost, we want them to be creative thinkers that push the boundaries of design,” said Travis.

New Space

Phase one of the program’s space renovation was completed this fall. Students in the program—the only interior design program in the nation’s capital that is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation—now have studios and labs equipped with, among other items, expansive pin-up boards where they can critique and discuss each other’s work.

“As designers, we are constantly viewing, assessing, and critiquing our work and those of our peers. So having such things as ample pin-up space is crucial,” explained Travis. 

The redesigned space also includes new, sustainable Marmoleum flooring in the hallway, studio, and design lab; modern, ergonomic seating; and lockers for students to store their supplies. Plans for Phase II include giving each student a dedicated desk for the semester or year.

“Our students have won some prestigious national and local competitions in the last few years, and we want to continue to build on this success and push it further,” said Travis. “A stronger studio curriculum and improved space to teach that curriculum will allow us to do this.”



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