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Practice : Winter 2009
were highlighted. I thought of Lowell, Lawrence and Fall River. The O xford Conferen ce 2008: 50 Years On — Resetting the Agenda for Architectural Education, University of Oxford UK was a conference of similar sc a le and number of attendees , a lso with the osten sible purpose of investigating sustainable design issues. It was held in July at Oxford University’s Examination Schools. Ca n some one at the BAC envision a whole college campus complex of Georgian and earlier stone architect ure, with numerous decorative finials, chimney structures and decorative flourishes, designed originally as an exclu sive locus for exams? The marble stairca ses and original fireplace heated room s were enhanc ed by 17th century portraits of the bishops of various Caribbean islands and other far-flung places, hung in the cla s srooms. Did only the instructors then get a heated s eat and the students huddle in their robe s in the chill? Would the forefathers have approved of the “Gherkin” building in London? Susa n Roaf, Ph.D., well-known author of various susta inable de sign books and now on the fa culty of Herriot Watts University’s architecture faculty, wa s the organizing chair of the conferenc e. H aving dinner with her two years ago at an ACSA conference in Scottsdale inspired me to urge Sam Hammer to prepare and present a paper on science pedagogy in the context of a design college at this conference. While the Oxford Conference had a stated goal of focu sing on inter-disciplinar y and sustainable design, it in general talked around this issue and did not exemplify an integrated approach a s the IFLA Congress had. This left us to wonder how the intent and focus of the conference had so succe ssf ully been instilled in all the presenters in one event and was so absent at another. Perhaps it was the lack of diversity of view in who planned for and attended the Oxford conferenc e. While the credential s of the O xford attendees were a s exc ellent a nd the geographic distribution c omparable to IFLA (300 people from 50 countries), the professiona l variety of attendees and presenters wa s l argely limited to architects and the content much less vibrant. Much discussion revolved around how to integrate architectural educ ation with the practice realm. In a closing event, one speaker asked how many landscape architects were in the audience. Only he and I put up our hands. More startling, a lthough he appeared to be of middle-A sian origin, we found that we had both studied at the University of Michigan and both worked for William Johnson within only a few years of each other. And we are both teaching, he at Cal Poly SLO a nd I at the BAC. Interesting a nd vibrant presentations did emerge from the BAC’s Sam Hammer, and from a large number of New Zealanders, including a Physic s profe ssor doing a sabbatical from Berkeley, teaching a cros s-discipline science-architect ure building materials cla ss, a nd sever al su stainable design research projects coming from architect ure and landscape/horticulture programs at the University of Sheffield in the U.K . and U.S. AIAS student research effort was extremely wel l presented by a pa st president of the AIAS and resulted in one of the more lively dialogues post presentation. Overall, the O xford Conference felt as dry as an old box of saltines. The post- conference garden party afterward was a nything but. Maybe the British model for learning and contacts is on the periphery of the official structure s and more effective in the informa l delivery and contact mode? Even better insight about U.K . design ca me later, a fter looking at more British gardens and landscapes. Surrey and Shere Village were the locus of our brief post- conference res earch for a future cultural landscape history course for the BAC. The Brits , particularly older cohorts (who grew up in the immediate post-W WII era of spa rse re source s) spend a lot of time actually walking the English landscape. The large-sc a le historic landscapes we visited: Sissinghurst, Nyhams, Polsden Lacey, Wisley Royal Horticultura l Gardens, Shere Village, the coppiced forests and important hedgerows of Surrey pall featured mannerly, a mbul atory popul ations putting these to exten sive u se. We stayed in a 15th c entury Surrey farmhouse, were housed in a 17th century inn at Oxford, and Orpheus conference center, locus of Ifla apeldoor n garden party, home of prof. Susan Roaf, Oxford NEWSWORThy ] “bIOmES” pRacTIcE 12