Proposal for a Design Lab
By James Robert Watson, PhD
Graphic Design is a very young academic discipline. The industry gained popular recognition in the 1940s and achieved rapid growth in the 1950s - after the war when companies accepted the value design could add to their products and marketing. Design education didn't fit into existing disciplines. At the time, it was closest to study in art, so Commercial Art was added to Art Departments, with classes often being taught by painters, renderers, or printmakers. As design evolved it became clear it was separate and distinct from art - it was a communications medium. Most art classrooms were not equipped to adequately address teaching design. I doodled some notes and sketches on the development of a Design Lab - a place dedicated to design education.
A self-contained facility for students to study and practice skills and knowledge in design; to include a drafting room, a lecture room with projection capabilities, a seminar room, small gallery space, storage, restrooms, and an office.
Create an optimum environment for learning, research, experiments, production, and presentation.
1. Flexible space, multi-use: no interior columns (like Mies IIT)
2. Adapt to different sized classes.
3. Accommodate changing technology, equipment' materials.
4. Exposed ceiling trusses for flexible cables, lighting, vents
5. Live floor with outlets
6. Wireless capability
Workroom, copier, sink, break room
Modules, on grid system
Desks, flat top
Desks, drafting top
Shelves, deep, project storage
The sketches below show a variety of options for the space and for student workstations. I often sketched on church bulletins. The usher gave me free drawing paper (the bulletin) and the preacher gave me time and inspiration.
Concept, design and sketches: January 1985
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