Atelier implies a hierarchical conveyance of knowledge from artist to apprentice, or from architect to intern. It is not an entirely accurate term for this program, but the tag stuck and quickly adopted an expanded definition. The goal of this collaborative practice is to have students (and recent grads) drive the project with professional assistance and oversight. This is in contrast to the conventional co-operative assignment or internship where students look over the shoulder of experienced professionals.
The following are postulates of the program:
- It is not a job, internship, or co-op. Participants receive academic credit or IDP hours, but not compensation. They adhere to applicable policies and procedures and standard practices set forth by the firm, but work exclusively on the community-based design project.
- An instructor from the architecture department and a project manager from the firm work together to provide guidance— the instructor ensuring that academic requirements are fulfilled, the PM ensuring that the project meets professional expectations.
- Participants are selected to participate based upon prior experience in the neighborhood, portfolio review, academic record and professional demeanor.
- Participants are “in residence”—living in Over-the-Rhine, within yards of the project site, the studio space and non-profit community partner offices. This helps to ensure that they are in touch with the community and its issues, and familiar with the people that with eventually inhabit their design.
- The atelier meets at the office of the firm at least three days a week (typically Tuesday through Thursday) from 8:30 to 5 pm. Remaining days are used for fieldwork such as building documentation, surveying, and energy/infiltration studies.
- The firm provides focused project development guidance in the form of code review, design critiques, specifications writing and project scheduling. Also, they provide access to expertise—both in-house and with consultants, code officials and product representatives.