Architecture School

Time Schedule

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Overview

This fascinating series, from creators Michael Selditch and Stan Bertheaud, follows a group of students at Tulane University’s prestigious School of Architecture who participate in an innovative studio programme to design and build a house in a low-income neighbourhood of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The entire process is followed from academic design criticism through to the physical build and the response of the neighbourhood to modern architecture appearing on their corner.

ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL opens a window onto the art and science of architecture while telling a unique and uplifting story about the literal rebuilding of New Orleans.

Episode 1.

The Big Idea” – In the debut episode, we meet the bright, competitive Tulane University architecture students who will be submitting designs for a low-income single family home which they themselves will build during the 2007-2008 school year.  The diverse group includes Amarit, a funny, charismatic Chicago native; Chris, an affable Georgian who seems somewhat less than driven; Carter, a highly focused Kentuckian; and Adriana, whose aesthetic owes much to her upbringing in Trinidad.  Professor/architect Byron Mouton lets his students know what he’s looking for in their designs: innovation, affordability and a “bold gesture.”  Lauren Anderson, the executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services (N.H.S.), a non-profit agency which helps low income families become homeowners, offers decidedly specific guidelines: she wants a 1200-square foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  The students’ designs must also reflect the fact that the home will be built using environmentally friendly S.I.P.s (Structurally Insulated Panels) – a new, green technology of pre-fabricated walls that afford fast, easy construction and are energy efficient and cost effective. 

Episode 2.

As the semester continues the students refine their schemes and create an impressive array of drawings, physical models and computer images to illustrate their designs, which will be reviewed by Byron and guest critics.  Byron encourages Amarit to push his concept further; meanwhile, Carter says “everyone’s mentality into this should be ‘I want to win’” and decides to stick with his audacious but potentially unrealizable prototype; Chris surprises Byron with a design that harkens back to a 1920s pioneer; and Adriana pursues her concept of an S-shaped building.

Episode 3.

Week One of construction begins with a stretch of hard labor:  old-fashioned, low-tech digging.   Two new students, Ian and Alex, join the team, adding to the colorful and competitive cross-section of young builders.  Another student, Adriana, has missed the week of digging and arrives as the foundation’s concrete is poured. 

Episode 4.

Mardi Gras infuses its rich color and debauchery throughout the city for the entire month of February.  Neighborhood crime continues to complicate Lauren Anderson’s efforts to sell last year’s house. The students call a community meeting, where neighbors are vocal about crime and the lack of security in the new house design.  Amarit has a construction accident that sends him to Tulane’s Urgent Care Center.  24-year-old Michael Wong, a dedicated community activist, shows interest in last year’s house, potentially derailing Tess’ plan to get the house for her daughter.

Episode 5.

The S.I.P.s [Structurally Insulated Panels] arrive, and the construction can now forge ahead at high speed. These pre-fabricated panels are a fairly new, green technology that affords fast, easy construction and boasts $1/day energy costs. But as construction plows ahead, there are setbacks. Byron arrives on site and demands that a major beam be taken down and rebuilt due to inadequate, unsafe construction. Tension arises between the boys and the girls.

Episode 6.

A pep talk from the project manager gives the students a bit of a lift.  The next stage of construction begins.  Adriana and Amarit don’t see eye to eye on design issues as attention turns to the ever-contentious discussions of paint color and exterior siding.  Custom windows and doors are next on the agenda, but money is running low.  The sale of last year’s home is completed.