Next came the process: embark on a careful and collaborative contemplation of the questions, “What is it we do as designers, and what kinds of spaces do we need for that?” Then came the splendid result: the Einhorn 21st Century Studio, a prototype for design education that opened its doors in Slocum Hall to School of Architecture students in fall 2013. “Our design process was a participatory one,” says Kathleen Brandt, a faculty member in the Department of Design at the College of Visual and Performing Arts , who co-designed the Einhorn Studio with architecture faculty member Brian Lonsway. The husband-and-wife team are principals of KBL Studio and co-directors of Syracuse University’s Thinklab , a collaborative research laboratory. “We spent a semester [spring 2013] working with students, faculty, and others—collecting data, doing workshops, inviting various thoughts and solutions, and making sure everyone’s voices were heard,” Brandt says. “We took all of those different considerations to then pull together a design that would be flexible, changeable, and work for a lot of different stakeholders.”
Intended to accommodate varied teaching styles and rapidly changing technologies, the new space shifts away from the traditional studio model—a big room filled with drafting tables—to one that mirrors the flexibility of a theater stage. “Because stages are built to change, you can transform everything overnight, in a snap,” Brandt says. “That’s essentially what we did here.” The studio’s easily reconfigurable spaces and mobile furnishings support both independent work and team-based learning, while such technologies as a 3D printer and scanner encourage iterative design thinking, enabling students to create models quickly and refine their designs with each output. Additional state-of-the-art features allow the projection of images onto a 20-foot seamless video wall, the floor, or table tops for digital markup and design critiques. “It’s nice to have so much technology readily available,” says Rebecca Marsh, an architecture graduate student who participated in brainstorming sessions about the studio’s design. “And it is a much more open and collaborative environment than a traditional studio, which is about separate, individual spaces.”
We wanted to do something for the architecture school that would affect the teaching and learning process.
The renovation was made possible by a gift from Syracuse Trustee and School of Architecture advisory board member Steven Einhorn ’67 and his wife, Sherry Einhorn ’65, a School of Education alumna. Their gift also supports development of a new website for the school, and established the Einhorn Lecture, an annual event devoted to entrepreneurship in architecture. “We wanted to do something for the architecture school that would affect the teaching and learning process,” says Steven Einhorn, a leader in developing professional service business enterprises and CEO of Stardog Consulting. “The studio is amazing and fascinating, and we’re both super proud of it.”
His enthusiasm is echoed by Dean Michael Speaks, who says the transformed studio provides an opportunity to “dramatically rethink how we teach” at the School of Architecture. “Using this studio as a test bed and expanding its results to our other locations, particularly at the Fisher Center in New York City, we have the opportunity to develop innovative models that will expand our education offerings domestically and abroad,” he says. “We’re deeply appreciative.”