Architectural Design Studio (ADST) 655

Comprehensive Design of Complex Buildings (Revision 1)

ADST 655 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Paced online, Group study -13 weeks - (Students are required to attend one 3 hour evening video teleconference session per week)

This course will be offered in January, May and September.  You may contact the FST Student Success Centre at 1-855-362-2870 for confirmation of other offerings.

Architectural Design Studio 655: Comprehensive Design of Complex Buildings is intended for students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Architecture (GDA) at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University..

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: Undergraduate Degree in Architecture

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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ADST 655: Comprehensive Design of Complex Buildings is the first studio in the sequence of studios that comprise an important part of the PBDA. You will develop a design for a building type that is a place of assembly, according to a coherent architectural idea and in response to a complex architectural program. This studio requires that the spaces be designed in a way that is appropriate to each activity, and organized in accordance with the relationships required by the functional program and the site. Special attention will be given to the human dimension of both public and private spaces and to the integration and resolution of all building systems.

Course Outline

This studio course has three projects, as noted above, and two formal presentations. The first project is a precedent analysis of successful institutional projects. The second project, in which you design a complex building for a place of assembly, forms the majority of the course.

Each week, you will be asked to share your work in progress with your academic expert and the other students in the studio. This weekly session is the equivalent of a desk critique (a session during which the architecture student sits down with their instructor to review their designs) given in a face-to-face studio.

These interactive meetings will be held in an online environment that includes video conferencing, audio conferencing, and social media, and will allow the academic expert to provide feedback in the form of sketches, beside or as a layer over your work. This is intended to be a productive working session much like you would experience in an architect’s office. You will receive a full set of instructions for connecting to the virtual studio.

Learning Outcomes

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, 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 an outline specification for a proposed building.
  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, and site selection and design assessment criteria.
  6. Ability to produce and document a comprehensive architectural project based on a building program and a site, and that includes the development of forms and spaces demonstrating an understanding of structural and environmental systems, building envelope systems, building assemblies and lifesafety provisions, and of the principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  7. Understanding of principles of structural behavior in withstanding gravity and lateral forces and the evolution, range, and appropriate application of contemporary structural systems.
  8. Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of environmental systems, including acoustical, lighting, climate modification systems and energy use.
  9. Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of plumbing, electrical, vertical transportation, communication, security, and fire protection systems.
  10. Understanding of the basic building science principles and the appropriate application of building envelope materials and assemblies in the Canadian environment.
  11. Understanding of the basic principles and appropriate application and performance of various construction materials, products, components, and assemblies common to the Canadian construction industry, including their environmental impact and reuse.
  12. Ability to integrate appropriate technical systems into a complex building and to use appropriate representational media, including freehand drawing and computer technology, to convey essential technical elements at each stage of the design development process.

Course Evaluation

Your work in this course will be evaluated based on three projects. You are required to scan and submit your projects to your academic expert via the Project links on the course home page. Each project is weighted as shown below. Note that your participation in discussions and your sharing of resources will contribute to your grade.

Study Schedule

Project Due Weight
Project 1. Comparative Analysis of Precedents Week 2 10%
Review Project 2 and select your project site and option. Week 2  
Project 2A. Design Brief Week 4 15%
Project 2B. Schematic Design Week 7 20%
Mid-term Presentation Week 7  
Project 2C. Final Project Week 13 45%
Final Presentation Week 13  
Project 3A: Reflecting on What You Have Learned Week 14 10%
Project 3B. Submit 2 images to the Gallery. Week 14  
Total   100%

You must achieve a cumulative grade of 67% or greater to receive credit for ADST 655.

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 3 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, May 16, 2016.