Architects are required to be able to write clearly in diverse professional settings. These include the creation of notations on drawings, the development of concise project descriptions and the composition of materials for websites, the compilation of extensive site documentation, and the development of large-scale programs and proposals. The Writing Standards for Architecture Students at FIU provide a common baseline for acceptable writing in professional and academic settings and offer suggestions toward better, more effective writing.
Professional architects and university students rely on word processing programs to assist with spelling and grammar. At the most basic level, all assignments completed for courses in architecture (including design studios) must be typed texts that have been composed or finished in a word processing software. Students should be vigilant users of the “spell check” and “grammar check” functions on all software, including MSWord, Illustrator, Photoshop, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, and Rhino, etc. Any error in spelling or grammar is unacceptable in writing assignments or on presentation drawings. Students should be particularly mindful of spelling and grammar errors in emails to their professors or other professionals. In addition to following the guidelines presented here in the Writing Standards, students should strictly follow the specific instructions for individual assignments laid out by their instructors.
Stylistic and Grammatical Guidelines
Please follow the specific guidelines listed below in every applicable situation.
- Write in the active voice. Instead of “red was used for the exterior” try “Tschumi chose red for the exterior.” Make it clear that the architect (or client, or contractor) ACTS in a specific way.
- Identify each person fully (first and last names) the first time you mention him or her, then refer to the same person by LAST NAME ONLY each subsequent time. For example, the very first time you mention the architect, identify her as Zaha Hadid, then every time after that identify her as Hadid. Avoid using the figureʼs first name alone (ie. Zaha).
- Be careful when using plural and possessive nouns.”Buildings” means more than one building; “building’s” means something belonging to the building.
- Be accurate when using punctuation in quotations. “Note where I put this comma,” and “pay attention to this exclamation mark!” “Do you recognize a misplaced question mark?” “Please put periods where they belong.” A valuable exception is when you include a quoted phrase within your own exclamatory or questioning sentence. For example, can we all believe that Kahn “asked the brick what it wanted to be”?
- “Then” and “than” are often confused. Examples:a) First the foundations were laid then the walls were constructed. b) The number of people in the room was greater than that allowed by the Fire Marshal. Remember that a “critic” writes a “critique,” and never the other way around.
- Never write “I feel that…” or “My opinion is that…” or &”I disagree…” because these papers are written as interpretations. Anything you don’t quote or paraphrase (anything you do not attribute to another writer) is assumed to be your opinion.
- Of course, when you ARE conveying the thoughts of another writer (or architect, or whoever) you must either quote or paraphrase that person. The former requires quotation marks, while the latter does not. In both cases, you MUST identify the person in your text and you MUST include a citation, such as a footnote or endnote. Two examples: Louis Kahn said that bricks wanted to be made into walls.12 (paraphrase) “I asked the brick what it wanted to be,” Kahn once claimed, “and it said, a wall.”12 (quotation) In both cases, a footnote follows the sentence. Always include a source for a quote or paraphrase. Failing to do so may result in charges of plagiarism and disciplinary measures. See the FIU handbook for university policies concerning plagiarism.
- Avoid repetition. Do not to use a word more than once in a paragraph, and be careful not to repeat words too much in the paper as a whole.
- Use standard footnote/endnote formatting, as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLS.
For information on Chicago-style formatting for written papers, go to The Chicago Manual of Style Online.
The Department of Architecture strictly follows the rules and policies of the college and university when it comes to plagiarism. According to the FIU Handbook, the definitions of cheating and plagiarism are the following:
Cheating: The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Any student helping another cheat may be found guilty of academic misconduct.
Plagiarism: The deliberate use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student, who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including Internet sources, is guilty of plagiarism. Any student helping another to plagiarize may be found guilty of academic misconduct.
Please see the FIU Student Handbook for graduate and undergraduate students by clicking here.
LEARNING CULTURE STATEMENT
In the fall of 2005, the NAAB issued an additional condition for accreditation: Studio Culture. In 2009 “studio culture was extended to the more inclusive condition of Learning Culture. Each accredited School of Architecture is now required to have a written policy addressing and shaping its studio and learning culture. Several years ago, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) created a task force to address both the positive and negative aspects of studio culture and issued its report in 2002. In that report, the AIAS call for explicit policies to support the positive aspects of studio culture, while curbing some of the more unhealthy practices. The positive values identified by the Report include optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation — values that are shared and supported fully by FIU’s Architecture department.
DESIGN LEARNING CULTURE
FIU’s Architecture department encourages an academic environment conducive to design learning through thoughtful connections between studio and non-studio courses. Design education at FIU encourages critical discourse based on collaboration, creativity, and learning through making. A healthy learning culture engenders an environment where students and faculty come together to ask questions and make proposals, innovate through today’s knowledge to address tomorrow’s challenges. The learning culture must support and develop respect for the diverse backgrounds of the faculty and student’s educational and professional experiences, and approaches to design.
DESIGN STUDIO CULTURE
The Architecture Department recognizes the inherent value of the design studio model. Studio learning encourages dialogue, collaboration, risk-taking, innovation, and learning-by-doing. The studios and labs offer an environment where students can come together to ask questions and create proposals. These proposals are developed and discussed among classmates, faculty, visiting professionals, and the public-at-large. Studio and lab-based learning offer intensive one-on-one instruction from faculty members, and provide the opportunity for each student to develop his/her critical thinking skills and spatial and material sensibilities. The design studio and labs offer a synthetic form of education, where project-based learning becomes the foundation for developing an understanding of and commitment to the department’s core values — broad mindedness, inter-connectivity, professionalism, exploration and activism — all in service of architecture’s fundamental mission: to improve the quality of the built and natural environments.
Open-ended questions – The Architecture department encourages students to embrace studio-based learning as a unique and valuable educational model. Studio learning requires an environment that allows for open-ended questioning, for which there may be no right answers.
Balance – The Architecture department supports its students and faculty in leading balanced lives.
Time-management – Students are encouraged to work smarter, not necessarily longer in studio.
Design process – The Architecture department affirms the value of design intention, design process, and design product, thus encouraging and evaluating (1) the student’s understanding of the ideas that motivate and the forces that inform the project at hand (“grasp”), (2) the student’s assiduousness in the development of ideas and use of information in the process of design (“process” or “effort”), and (3) the material and graphic quality of the studio’s final products — be they models, drawings, or representations in other media — as well as the appropriateness of the proposed design in its real-world context (“product”).
Grades – Grades are but one measure of a student’s performance in studio. Advising and counseling are considered integral to the learning culture.
Collaboration – In addition to individual design projects, FIU’s Architecture department values partner and group projects at every level of design research and development.
Interdisciplinary opportunities – To become effective designers of, and advocates for a quality built environment, FIU’s Architecture department supports interdisciplinary work between the three design disciplines that constitute the School of Architecture. The department encourages community-based research and engagement through which students can acquire a broad range of skills and experiences.
Faculty development – Faculty who teach studio are selected for their ability to inspire students to learn, engage students in critical thinking, bring forward their particular expertise, and convey a sense of optimism about the field of architecture.
Critiques/Reviews – Public presentation and display of the work of the design studio is valued, and is essential in developing skills for effective verbal communication. The Architecture department supports considered and respectful dialogue—whether spirited debate or reflective discussion — during public presentations.
Diversity – The Architecture department supports active, and open dialog. The studio is a place where diverse life experiences and opinions are shared. A culture of respect and open inquiry supports the life-long learning process that begins in school.
Maintenance of the Studio Culture Policy – To ensure the effectiveness and implementation of the Studio Culture Policy—as well as to create the opportunity to amend or change policies outlined therein, the Architecture department’s Studio and Learning Culture Policy will undergo review every two years by representatives of the faculty and student body. The policy will also be reviewed periodically in an open forum that invites the participation of all students and faculty members.
Social Space – The Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building is an asset for student socialization and for events. Its courtyards, lawns, terraces, staircases and walkways are valued spaces that enhance the culture of learning.
Travel – The Architecture Department values travel both locally and abroad. Immersion in other cities and cultures provides our students with critical experiences. The firsthand interaction with completed buildings and those under construction enrich learning throughout the curriculum.
Respect – The Architecture Department respects diversity and the dignity of the individual.