This spring semester, students from the University of Kentucky College of Design's School of Architecture are participating in an innovative new studio format called Office Studio. Structured like a global architecture firm, with office branches at two other universities, National Chiao-Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, Office Studio Kentucky consists of 12 advanced undergraduate and graduate architecture students, and is led by UK School of Architecture Assistant Professor Angie Co and Dean Michael Speaks. The global studio is among a select few of U.S. academic architecture studios executing much of its work online.
Through Office Studio, all three schools are working together on a project commissioned by the city of Taipei. Specifically, the studio has been asked by the mayor’s office in Taipei to research and create planning and architecture proposals for an existing, soon-to-be-decommissioned train depot station located in the Xinyi Business District, site of the famous Taipei 101 tower, which until recently was the tallest building in the world. The station and its surrounding site are part of an urban redevelopment initiative launched in 2010 by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin, and are likely to figure in Taipei’s proposal to host World Design Capital 2016.
During this past Spring Break, 12 UK students led by Co, joined 20 students from the partner schools in Taiwan and Hong Kong on a sponsored and paid visit to Taipei where they toured the train depot building site and met with Mayor Hau’s office, planners, architects and creative industry leaders. Students also toured the famous 24-hour food "night markets" in Taipei, as well as buildings designed by recently named Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito.
Back in Lexington, the students are back to work and have only a couple weeks to complete their proposals. All three Office Studios — Kentucky, Taiwan and Hong Kong — will continue to work and collaborate online and via Skype and will complete a large scale proposal that will be presented to Mayor Hau for his review in June of this year.
Together, the three Office Studios simulate a global design office: working from offices (studios) with principals (professors) in different locations, students are collaborating on a real, commissioned project for a real client.
In addition, Office Studio Kentucky, taking advantage of online meeting, management and design technology, is being conducted as a hybrid online studio. Co, who currently works from New York City, meets the students two days each week online and Dean Speaks meets the students one day per week in person. Besides the weekly sessions, Co has run week-long, intensive workshop sessions in Lexington with the students, and Dean Speaks has run workshops and sessions including a startup workshop where students designed and built all the furniture, including desks, chairs and storage cabinets for their Office Studio space in Pence Hall.
Office Studio is among the first online studios to be conducted in any school of architecture in the U.S. and offers students an opportunity to get firsthand experience by working in a technology rich studio/office environment that is fast becoming the norm all over the world.
To see photos of work from Office Studio Kentucky, visit the UK College of Design Facebook album for the studio at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.498301916884761.1073741826.124612070920416&type=3.