Architectural Design Studio (ADST) 450

Architectural Design: Cultural, Recreational, and Institutional (Revision 1)

ADST 450

Delivery Mode: Individualized Study

ADST 450: Architectural Design: is intended for students enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.

Credits: 6

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite ARCH 340, and ADST 400, and APST 470

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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ADST 450: Architectural Design: Cultural, Recreational, and Institutional is the sixth studio course, within the BSc (Architecture) program, that will prepare you for work in an architect’s office.

ADST 450 continues the development of architectural design for the public sector. During this studio, you will develop a public project for a cultural, recreational, or institutional building in accordance with a coherent architectural idea and in response to a complex functional program. This will require the design of spaces appropriate to each activity and the organization of these spaces in accordance with relationships required by the Functional Program and the site. You will need to pay close attention to the human dimension of both public and private spaces.

An outline for a Functional Program is provided, indicating the major types of occupancies and some major spaces. You must complete the program, adding minor, ancillary, and support spaces.

You must appropriately use form and material, and apply hierarchical thinking, to give significance and meaning to spaces—depending upon the use of each space—beyond mere functional requirements. You are encouraged to make decisions about form only after giving due consideration to the functional requirements of the spaces.

The nature of this project is public, and you should strive to understand how notions of time, endurance, history, politics, critical press, and so on, all come to bear on high profile projects typically intended to stand for generations. You will need to understand these influences and demonstrate the ability to make appropriate design, detailing, structure, and material choices that all speak to the public’s interests.

In project 2, you will submit, for review and comment, a Design Brief, including a summary of precedents for this building type, and outlining the important organizing principles, site relationships, and the design parti. With approval from the academic expert, you may replace the assigned site with a site that is appropriate but more familiar or accessible to you. As the project develops, you will submit a schematic design for review and comment. After your Midterm Presentation, your project must be completed and prepared for presentation and documentation as set out in the course outline.

The sketchbook is a desired element of all Design Studio courses.

You are encouraged to engage your academic expert often throughout the course. Their experience and knowledge will be a valuable resource as you develop your design thinking and they will act as a sounding board for your design ideas.

You are required to develop a Personal Archive on your computer to store materials that are pertinent to your studies. This archive can include images, texts, scanned drawings, models, and websites. If this is your first course using a Personal Archive at Athabasca University, please carefully read Archives and Collections. That document will familiarize you with concepts behind a Personal Archive and with design, organizational tools, and formats that can help you achieve a workable collection. Your Personal Archive will be central to your studies throughout the program and to your ongoing career.

Course Outline

This studio course consists of three projects and two online presentations. You will present to a small group of jurors (including the AE, the program Chair, and possibly others).

You will make each presentation in an online meeting room. The session is intended to generate lively discussion about your work, and to provide you with valuable feedback for your further development. The meeting room environment will allow participants to view all of your work, and to ask questions and offer comments after your presentation.

To prepare for these presentations, you will need to synthesize all of your key studies, concepts, and required work from all of the course projects to create a coherent online publication of your work. Your academic expert can help you determine which portions of your projects to present.

The table below summarizes project requirements.

Project Requirement
Project 1. Precedent Study and Critical Analysis At least 1 online critique with your academic expert
Project 2A. Design Brief At least 1 online critique with your academic expert
Project 2B. Schematic Design and Midterm Presentation At least 2 online critiques with your academic expert
Midterm Presentation  
Project 2C. Design Development and Final Presentation At least 3 online critiques with your academic expert
Final Presentation  
Project 3A. Reflecting on What You Have Learned/Studio Collection  
Project 3B. Gallery Submission  

You will also post the content of your weekly sessions and presentations on the Centre’s social media site. You are required to engage with other students’ work on a weekly basis as part of your final grade. This interaction can be in the form of thoughtful commentary or constructive criticism. Please confer with your academic expert on how to gain access to the Centre’s social media site.

Learning Outcomes

Adapted from Canadian Architectural Certification Board, Canadian Education Standard.

After successfully completing this course, you should have developed:

  1. Understanding of the fundamentals of visual perception and the principles and systems of order that inform two-and three-dimensional design and architectural composition and urban design.
  2. Ability to use appropriate representational media, including freehand drawing and computer technology, to convey essential information at each stage of the pre-design and design process.
  3. Ability to make technically precise drawings and develop and outline specification.
  4. Ability to apply fundamental architectural principles in the design of buildings, interior spaces and sites, and to respond to natural and built site characteristics in the development of a program and the design of a project.
  5. Ability to prepare a comprehensive program for an architectural project that accounts for client and user needs, appropriate precedents, space and equipment requirements, the relevant laws and standards, site selection and design assessment criteria.

Course Evaluation

Your work in this course will be evaluated based on two projects. You are required to scan and submit your work at each stage to your academic expert via the Project links on the course home page.

Each project is weighted as shown below.

Study Schedule

Project Due Weight
Project 1. Precedent Study and Critical Analysis
(Choose your Project 2 Option now.)
Week 10 10%
Project 2A. Design Brief Week 20 15%
Project 2B. Schematic Design Week 30 20%
Midterm Presentation Week 30  
Project 2C. Final Project Week 48 45%
Final Presentation Week 48  
Project 3A. Reflecting on What You Have Learned/Studio Collection Week 48 10%
Project 3B. Submit 2 images to the Gallery. Week 48  
Total 100%

You must achieve a cumulative grade of 67% or greater to receive credit for ADST 450.

Course Materials


Although there is no textbook for this studio, the academic experts may assign readings as they deem appropriate during the course.

Student-Provided Tools and Equipment

Student-Provided Tools and Equipment

You must provide a digital camera for your own use, as well as a few other tools. The items you will need to provide are listed below:

Photography tools:

  • Smartphone with camera, or digital camera (SLR preferable)

Drawing materials:

  • 35.56cm × 43.18cm (14” × 17”) Strathmore 300 series acid-free drawing paper
  • 22.86cm × 30.48cm (9” × 12”) Strathmore 300 series sketchbook
  • white or beige 2-ply card stock
  • trace paper

Drawing tools:

  • 0.30 mm precision felt pen (or similar).
  • 2H to 2B pencils or mechanical pencils
  • coloured markers and/or pencil crayons
  • compass
  • protractor
  • ruler
  • drawing board (recommended)

Modeling materials:

  • white or beige 2-ply card stock
  • clear plastic sheet

Modeling tools:

Use of Computers

You may use computers to design and complete your projects for this studio (except where noted), but remember that hand drawing and modeling skills remain essential to the development of an architect and we encourage you to use those skills wherever possible.

Course Home Page (online): The course home page houses all the online components of your course.

Course Information (online): The Course Information provides specific information about how to proceed through the course. Read the Course Information carefully before you begin reading the Study Guide.

Projects (online): The 4 projects are embedded on the course home page.

Forms: Forms you may need are available through the myAU portal.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, August 08, 2016.