A220: Syllabus

Archi-220, 1776 - Syllabus

Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill campus • 321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Associate Professor:

  • Grant Adams
  • Email: gadams@dvc.edu
  • Phone: (925) 456-4355
  • Office Location & Hours: ET124/ET116 MW 9:30-10:00, 6:00-6:30

Course Summary:

Course Description:

Second level studio design class continuing the study of architectural design. Course focuses on development of fundamental design skills utilizing concepts related to site planning and site analysis, spatial qualities of architecture and movement through architectonic space. Continuing investigation of topics in material qualities, general methods of assembly and construction, and human factors in design. Methods of presentation and design development include drawing, model making and architectural reviews and critiques.

My Philosophy about Archi 220:

This is the most important course you are taking this semester. Period.

An architectural design studio is an essential part of learning to design and it is a demanding course. You will have work to do in class every day and you will have work outside of class to do before the next class meeting. Expect to live and breathe for Archi 220 this semester. Furthermore, you cannot learn to design if you are not present. As a result, I expect you to be on time and ready to work when class begins at 2pm. You should be in class for the full scheduled time (that means until 5:50pm). You should work in ET104, ET124 or ET116. Generally, each class will begin with a lecture or demonstration, followed by a work session and ending with a pinup of work. You may take a short break for food or to use the restroom, but you should use your class time wisely. Make sure to bring all necessary materials for your current project, don’t leave them at home.

Course Schedule:

  • MW 2:00-5:50pm, ET 104
  • A schedule of course assignments & course work will be posted on the course website as they are assigned. Please visit www.digitaltoolsforarchitects.com for more details. You can also subscribe to a feed of the calendar. Please visit the tutorials section of the website for help setting this up.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the architectural profession and provide introductory lessons in architectural design, rendering, planning, and history.
    • Students completing the course will be able to communicate architectural concepts using graphic conventions and representational methods.
    • Students completing the course will be demonstrate an understanding of building components, structures and systems in relation to design.
    • Students completing the course will be able to construct physical models or architectural elements and spaces.


  • There will be three projects over the course of this semester. The first will be worth 10%. The Second will be worth 25% and the third will be worth 25% of your overall grade. You will have assignments due at the end of each class (classwork) and assignments due before the start of the next class (homework). Classwork and homework will be worth 30% of your grade. Finally, your course participation and your group participation grades will make up the last 10%.

Individual Classifications:

Each of you will be given a classification letter. This letter is not an indicator of ability or promise but rather of interest and skill in a particular area. When group work is to be done, there will be requirements for each group to have certain classifications of students. For example, on the first project, each group must have a “C” member and an “M” member. These people are responsible for leading a piece of the project (for example a “C” classification gives a student primary responsibility over the computer modeling to be done by the group, but does not indicate that the “C” student is going to do all of the work. The “C” student is in charge of the computer modeling and should coordinate a group effort to accomplish that portion of an assignment.

  • The classifications are shown below:
    • C: Computer 3D modeling/Rendering (Rhino/V-Ray or similar)
    • D: Computer drawing (AutoCAD, Vectorworks or similar)
    • E: Collage/Entourage specialist
    • M: Physical modeling/drawing
    • X: Design X-Factor

Group Work:

There will be group work in this course. You can select your own groups, but there will be certain membership requirements (see “Individual Classifications Section’ above. The group work will build a base (digitally and physically) for an individual design project to thrive. Group work is essential and I expect each of you to contribute your fair share. At the end of each project, you will submit an anonymous evaluation of your group in a sealed envelope. These will help me assign individual effort grades. (see grading section)


Today you will be asked to pick a partner. Your partner is responsible for taking notes whenever your project or work is being discussed. These notes should be written on a plate (see below) so that you can add them to your course ring. These notes are a very valuable part of the design process and will help you tremendously throughout the course. Please make sure you are attentive and take good notes for your partner. You must have your partner selected prior to today’s interview and you must come to the interview together.


As you are probably already aware, today you will come (with your partner) to an interview with me. In this interview, I will give you your individual classification (see above) and get a sense of your work so that I can better help you succeed in this course. While not required, bringing a portfolio of work to this interview will help me to classify you and learn about your previous work.


Frequently during this class you will be asked to produce “plates.” I am borrowing the term “plates” from the world of photography where it refers to negatives being developed on a thin sheet. For each plate assigned, you are to create a 5.5” x 8.5” card that explores a given topic or design idea for your current project. These plates can incorporate any form of medium you find appropriate. They can be created digitally, manually or a combination of both. These plates should be developed and carefully considered. They should accurately represent your ideas and thoughts as well as research pertaining to a particular design/precedent study, etc. You will be required to have both a physical and digital version of each plate. (If you create one manually, you just need to scan it). You will post finished plates to the course website (see below) as well as add physical plates to your course ring.


For each posting of plates to the course website, you will be required to write 3 constructive comments to your classmates about their plates. These comments should provide valuable design feedback and help in the overall direction of your fellow students’ projects. Your comments should be detailed and constructive. You cannot simply say “I like it”, but rather must explain why you like it from a design/representation/project development perspective.

Course/Project Ring:

On the first day of class, you will each be given a course ring. You must not lose this ring and you must bring it to class every day. When you finish each of your required plates, you will add them to this ring. The ring will be due the day after each project’s final presentation and will be reviewed. You may elect to start a new ring after each project.

Course Website:

Archi 220 will share a course website with Archi 135, www.digitaltoolsforarchitects.com. If you already have an account on the Digital Tools for Architects website, you do not need to create another. If you do not have an account you will need to create one today. For each plate and on other occasions throughout the course, you will be required to post your work. When you post your work, you willl need to assign “A220” as well as the project number in the category section. (This will be demonstrated in class). You will also use the website to give feedback to your peers (see comments section above). The website contains a large amount of helpful information including tutorials and architectural precedents. Some sections are restricted, so make sure to login before browsing.

Recommended Materials:

You will be producing physical models as well as drawings in this course. While there is not a requirement to use the computer, it is highly recommended. Below, you will find a list of recommended materials. Take some time to browse when you are shopping as you will often find other materials that will suit your modeling needs that are not on this list. You will need to make more than one trip to an art store this semester.

  • Digital/Print Materials:
    •  4gb or larger flash drive
    • Drawing Instruments
      • While many of you will do a large amount of work on the computer this semester, you will still need to draw out ideas and sketch over the top of computer print outs. You should, by now, have a favorite drawing instrument. Make sure you bring this pen/pencil to class each day. If possible, have a selection of colors available in the same medium to help highlight specific ideas.
    • Paper
      • Note: You will need paper to use for your plates. I recommend getting a group of students together to share some paper. You can have an 8.5” x 11” ream cut to 5.5” x 8.5” at most office supply stores. I have found OfficeMax in Walnut Creek to be the cheapest at $1.09 for the service. Purchase good quality paper that you will enjoy working with/drawing on, etc. I’d recommend a heavier weight cardstock like 67lb or similar. You might also consider a glossy laser paper for computer generated plates, just make sure it is glossy paper specifically for laser printers. Inkjet paper will not work.
    • High quality roll paper (you can share this among a group of students, since it is rather expensive)
      • Note: This will vastly improve plotting “boards” for your final presentations. I would get glossy or semigloss/luster. Try to buy HP brand since it will match with the plotter and results will be consistent. A roll will typically have 100-150’ on it, so it can be shared among a group of students. Generally this type of paper is available online, though some local stores may cary it.
  • Physical Modeling Materials:
    • Aileen’s Tacky Glue
    • Super Glue Gel
    • Mat board/Chip board
    • Museum Board
    • Corrugated Cardboard
    • Exacto, Blades (I recommend #11)
    • Basswood, various sizes (1/32” to 1/4” max)
    • Other materials will be discussed in class

Laser Cutting:

The laser cutter(s) will be available for this course. There may be restrictions on how much you can cut for each project. It is important to recognize the value of a cutter and use it for its highest and best use. Recognize it is a limited resource (in terms of time available to cut) and don’t plan on being able to cut your entire model for each project.


There will be 1 exhibition of work (project 1) and 2 formal final reviews (projects 2 & 3) this semester. If you miss any of these dates, you will fail the course (or be withdrawn). No exceptions. No second chances. Furthermore, you should have your work complete and pinned up on the wall prior to the start of the course (that means work is on the wall by 2pm). If you are late to a review, you fail the project (yep, that means and F for the project, so don’t be late). If you work on your project during another review, you fail the project. Reviews are the most valuable learning experience during the course. Professionals will take time out of their days to come and help you become a better designer. You can learn as much from someone else’s review as you can from your own, so I expect everyone to be present during the reviews.

Participation & Professionalism:

  • A design studio is a unique class in that it requires involvement and participation from all member of the course. You will frequently be asked to give design feedback to your peers through pinups and informal reviews. You will also receive critiques throughout the course during the class period. I encourage you to help each other through design challenges. You will always do your own project and be responsible for your own design, but the people sitting next to you can provide invaluable feedback when your instructor is not available or with another student.
  • Throughout the course, you should make use of the facilities offered here at DVC in the Engineering Technology building. Please do your studio work here rather than by yourself someplace else, you will be surprised how much it will help you to work side by side with your peers.
  • Professionalism means that you are expected to present yourself, your ideas and projects in a manner that reflects positively on your ideas towards the academic environment and the future expectations of the architectural working world. This includes respecting basic working world values such as punctuality, organization and commitment to work, but also the opinions of others, respect for other students and faculty in the class, and respect for tools and facilities. These expectations also include understanding and following values related to the production of high quality work, upholding standards of craftsmanship and presentation, and respecting standards of academic honesty and integrity.

 General Guidelines:

  • All students who miss two weeks of class or more will be withdrawn from the class at the discretion of the instructor. If you will be absent from class, you must inform the instructor prior to the start of class by emailing: gadams@dvc.edu or calling/texting (925) 456-4355.
  • Plates & other work is due as indicated on the “daily work plates” passed out the beginning of each class. Plates or other work done as homework is due at the start of class. Incomplete or unfinished work will be marked late.
  • Late work is graded down by 10% (one full letter grade) per class. Assignments turned in after 4 class days late will receive a maximum of 50% of the value of the assignment. Work not handed in will receive a 0.

Reference Textbooks:

Download .pdf of Archi-220 Syllabus

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