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Designing More than Just a Structure

Hands-on design in Pratt’s Certificate of Architectural Engineering Program challenges students to think beyond functionality

The world’s most famous structures do more than function, they have beauty – which is why future design professionals at Duke are being challenged to incorporate aesthetics into their design challenge projects.

The challenge given to these students is one that architects and engineers receive each day: conceive and build a structure for a client who wants more than just a shelter.

The design brief for students working toward a Certificate in Architectural Engineering was to design a distinctive building that not only fit its site and responded to context, but also expressed the spirit of what it will contain – symbols of university excellence, such as a championship trophy or a Nobel Prize medallion. Near the end of the course students made presentations, including detailed models and drawings, to their classmates and instructors.

The in-depth project is typical of Pratt’s architectural engineering certificate program, said Chris Brasier, FAIA, a licensed architect serving as the program’s director.

“Problem solving using design thinking is at the heart of the program,” he said. “It’s not just another presentation or another paper. Our students work through the design process throughout the course, from initial problem definition to iterative exploration and final solution.”

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