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Practice : Winter 2010
Consider what a mes s it is out there. We confront upheaval s in the economy, in technolog y and in our profes sions. Starting with a bursting rea l e state bubble, the collapse of the broader ec onomy has led to the fastest and deepest loss of jobs in the design and construction industries in decade s. Information technolog y has changed how we communicate and organize ourselve s. Data is ubiquitous and continu- ously available; meaning is harder to find. Within our profes sion s, changes to how we deliver our ser vic es threaten to under- mine the time and focus needed to create meaningful design. Digital technology turns design into inform ation to be m anaged, potentially draining it of inspiration. Web -based communication means we work with people we might not even meet. Sust ainable design and energy efficiency c ome to the forefront even a s budgets for design and construction shrink. The BAC’s ties to the design professions make us exc eptionally aware of the problems we’re fa cing. Buffeted by these force s, we don’t have the financial resources to sit tight a nd wait for things to settle back down. We have to change. And that’s where this school’s truly extraordinary character makes the difference. We are closer to practice than any other school in the country. We have over four hundred faculty, most of them active practitioners , a nd well over a thousand c reative and extraordinarily hardworking students — a ga in, ac tive practitioners. We have de eply engaged and dedicated sta ff and limber governance. The se resourc es ma ke us exc eptiona lly able to envision the future of design a nd practice. How are we responding? Reinvention a nd innovation! A couple of examples: Transferring the Landscape Institute of the Arnold Arboretum to the BAC. When Har vard indicated that they would no longer continue to support the renowned de cade s- old program, we e va luated its educ ational mission in light of ours, its finances in light of our own resources, a nd negotiated a succ essf ul transfer in a matter of weeks. What began as an inquiry in May had students and faculty under our roof in September. Establishing a formal peer-reviewed Faculty. Just getting under way, the ne w de signation of BAC faculty members will enable u s to better rec ognize the extraordinary breadth of profes sional talent and experienc e placed in ser vice of our students, a nd cohere the role and authority of our faculty across all of the school ’s programs. Fac ulty Members will receive support to f urther develop their teaching skills, improve their curricular offerings, advanc e their research intere sts, and collaborate with colleagues both within a nd across disciplines. Reformulating Foundation Studies. Our first segment increa singly introduce s students to an educ ation in design rather than initial study exclusively focused on one discipline. After all, the synthesis of disparate elements into an integrated whole ha s always been the underlying function of the design profe ssions. By having our multiple degree programs built upon a more universa l foundation, one that will be applicable to many fields, we offer our graduate s more flexibility for the f uture. Incorporating online inst ruction t ech niques in our onsite a s well as low-residency programs. Our technology resources are providing skills needed by both our practitioner- instructors, a nd our students, to equip them for the future. By conducting cla sses with dist ance te chnology our instructors are learning how to integrate the full variety of communication media into the design process and to manage that process to achieve sophisticated collaboration among st udents. Students, likewise, discover how to employ technolog y in ways that rise far above information manag ement. Both are acquiring ways of thinking and organizing that will prepare them to be leaders defining a new model of professional practice. Evolving require ments for the Practice Curriculum. We’re engaging students in competitions and special projects where students from every program work with colleagues in other schools and fields. The affordable housing competition sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston engages our students with team members drawn from the fields of business, planning, law, and social s er vice and advance s the needs of real-world nonprofit clients . Our Department of Energy Sol ar Decathlon project participants le arned about finance , public relations and project management a s much as about construction and sustainability. core values, changing times NEWsWoRThy ] REINvENTIoN aNd INNovaTIoN Reinvention and Innovation: practice and the academy This school’s extraordinar y character makes the difference. We are exceptionally aware of the challenges facing the design professions today. bac boa rd chair Russel feldma n 7 pRacTIcE