History Studio

All of the buildings and architects Lucy is expected to know are part of the disk provided when she entered the architecture program. History instructors are able to generate material for the class by using the computer to combine and alter images from the department’s old slide collection or from new collections made available on optical disk by a variety of publishers and university presses. By combining plans, elevations, and sections from the old slides, new axonometric and perspective views can be generated, rotated, enlarged, or simplified to illustrate the lecture topic. Instructor has immediate access to the 50,000 images in the slide collection via laser disk, which is updated annually. The large screen high definition television monitors in the lecture hall also allow the instructor to superimpose sketched analysis diagrams over a projected image in much the same way football commentators analyze plays for their viewers today. In this session, Lucy’s instructor guides the class through an analysis of architectural elements using a variety of buildings from different historic periods. Using the large screen monitors the instructor walks the class through a series of examples, demonstrating a variety of ways to identify and analyze key architectural features in the drawings.

Lucy watches the lecture on her TABLET, from the comfort of the student lounge. Lucy’s assignment will be to perform a similar analysis on a group of buildings taken from her own disk. If need be she will be able to replay the lecture by connecting to the University mainframe, fast forwarding and freeze framing it as necessary. Lucy’s term project will be a hypermedia submission rather than a term paper. She will use TABLET to combine still, moving and animated images with text and voice over into a single integrated package which will be submitted via electronic mail directly into her instructor’s inbox.

One of Lucy’s friends, an upperclassman, is taking an advanced architectural history seminar in which he uses a simulation program which challenges him to design a seventeenth century French building as if he were living in that period, restrained by the computer program that applies the norms and rules of the time and unique stylistic characteristics of several select architects of that period. Each simulated design is scored by the computer, so an understanding of the relationships between French architecture and culture in the 1600’s, which is the focus of the course, increases with each repetition. The repetition also allows students to perceive the limitations of the simulation itself. By the end of the semester students will be able to modify the sophisticated course building program used by their professor, incorporating their increased knowledge for use by subsequent classes.

In an experimental lab down the hall another student is working with an instructor whose research is funded by a company marketing a commercial version of Digit-Vision glasses. By standing on a standard exercise treadmill, and donning what appears to be an oversized pair of dark sunglasses, the student is able to walk through a virtual full size representation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building, looking from side to side, up and down, into offices and even “hearing” the acoustic properties of footsteps in various parts of the building. The simulation, which was developed by combining 10 year old computer drawings with photographic images will eventually become part of the library of buildings available with the Digit-Vision glasses. Down the hall in the Digit-Vision Lab another student is using the $10,000 Digit-Vision helmet to study simulated day lighting, while across town another program undertakes similar efforts in a $750,000 lighting lab.

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