Idea Incubator: The Architectural Design Studio Experience and the Nurturing of Creativity

Craig Konyk AIA
Assistant Professor of Architecture
School of Public Architecture
Michael Graves College
Kean University

The Education of an Architect in unlike many other disciplines in that the primary vehicle for the teaching of Design is the Architectural Studio. The Architectural Studio has its roots in the Beaux-Arts Atelier model from turn of the century France, where young architectural students would work in the design office of their Architectural Instructors, learning by emulation and association from like-minded colleagues. It was an informal affair, but actually a very encouraging model for creative enterprise.

Growing out of the model of the Artists’ Studio, where leftover, underutilized spaces (mansard attic spaces in Paris, basement space in Coenties Slip and lofts in Soho, Lower Manhattan, etc.) became places of creative production, and even urban rejuvenators, the Architect’s Studio became formalized in American Architectural Professional Education as the central component of a young architect’s path to licensure and professional standing. Without the Architecture Studio, one could not become an Architect.

Additionally, another significant component of the Studio system is the amount of time that is spent in the Studio working on design projects, discussing potential solutions, crafting submissions for final evaluation. The intensity and complete focus of the effort in one place for a sustained period of time creates an atmosphere not unlike a laboratory, where anexperiment is pursued to its logical conclusion. In our increasingly distracted and undirected society, the ability to combine time, singular focus and a space to achieve something of quality is a rare occurrence; one could even say it is a “luxury”. But in fact it is a necessity for one to achieve any significant break through in design.

This presentation will explain the unique properties of the Architectural Studio format, its history and development pedagogically and how elements of it may have application in other focus intensive design disciplines. It will argue that the Architecture Design Studio was a Design Incubator even before the term was given definition.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.1: Kean University on Saturday, Oct 22, 2016.