Lostritto teaches throughout the RISD Architecture curriculum with an emphasis on the overlap of analog and digital media as well as the relationship between representation, building and theory. He recently also taught pilot versions of the new courses required for the Computation, Technology & Culture undergraduate concentration.
This section of thesis of the 2017-18 academic year included students with projects that explicitly adressed the role of representation in architecture. The year began with a seminar, Representation is Alive, which proclaimed that: representation is alive for speculation; representation is alive for research; and representation is alive for experimentation. With a continued focus on the line and the pixel, the seminar moved between historic source material, computational techniques, scholarship, vintage machines and experimental programming resources as students build the foundations of an architectural thesis. Projects then developed through interconnected exercises, technical explorations, and communal discourse.
This is a new seminar course that is part of a recently-adjusted curriculum for the advanced track of the RISD Master of Architecture Program. Its primary concern is knowledge that may be cultivated and tested through discourse with a focus on an expansive role of architectural tools. While acknowledging a wealth of disciplinary conventions, histories and theories, this course recognizes that the forms of representation within the discipline of architecture have the capacity to affect the discipline of architecture and are not fixed. A series of prompts provided the structure of the course: Draw what you see and what you know, but that which you can’t measure (clouds and spheres); Model what you can measure (rooms); Write captions as a threaded through drawings; Create computational methods for giving structure to that which can’t be measured (transformational algorithms for clouds and spheres); Write extended definitions (tracing the etymology, and interrelationship of a set of drawing words such as “drawing,” “subject,” “object,” “manual,” “hatch,” “simulation”, “model,” et.c); Design non-traditional, improper, or hybrid projection methods (as applied to previously modeled rooms); Draw the corner problem (and relatedly, "solve" the corner problem through drawing); Re-consider an architectural problem by defining a line of architectural research (a micro-thesis).
Why would architects write computer programs? Why would architects draw? This studio suggests one answer to both of those questions: architecture thrives within media that extend the capacity of the individual human author while simultaneously limiting, filtering or structuring the domain of inquiry. Drawing and writing computer programs—“coding” for short—require mastery of instruments, deployment of knowledge, and definition of line. As a result, coding and drawing are transformative. They can transform our ideas in the pursuit of architecture, certainly. But they can also transform architecture, thereby allowing us to cultivate ideas in the pursuit of new architecture. To begin this studio, students design a coded line-based representational system specific to one portion of an existing built work of architecture. Lines will be taxed to perform in multiple ways. It is expected that many hundred lines of code, many thousands of lines on paper, and multiple weeks of research, experimentation and critique will be required investment for the reward of a drawing that is simultaneously pictorial, analytic, projected, formal, atmospheric, and measured. Gradually, students wean themselves off of the building as referent and begin to identify and refine salient features, problems, and ambiguities in the drawing. Finally, students work in reverse. Drawing will leads to a construct, which will be interpreted as the portion of a building, which be extended in self-evident terms into a resolved architectural proposition for a built project in the landscape. Read more about the studio on the course website.
This studio, the third and final in the Computing Drawing sequence, continues to explore computer programming as a design medium. This iteration obsesses over the idea of the corner. Programming, defined as the design and execution of algorithms, allows designers to tap into the science of computing in ways that more fashionable approaches to digital media (parametric modeling, for example) preclude. How programming can and should be used to conceive of architecture is a perpetually open question. Rather than immediately computing architecture, these studios begin by computing drawing, which by definition allows the human eye and mind to play a prominent role in design. Conceptions of authorship, ambiguity, and representation remain the focus of attention and criticism as the course moves from drawing to building (and back to drawing). The studio, as a community, cultivates an actionable obsession with three foundational elements of architecture: line, surface and corner. More details and student work are available on the course website.
The studio is the second of three in the Computing Drawing series. In this iteration, surface comes into focus as that which paradoxically has no mass, but sponsors computational structure and the thickening of drawing. The final project, a toll booth at the distinctly non-socially-charged Massachusetts/Rhode Island border crossing, positions surface in the context of duration, threshold and spectacle. More details and student work are available on the course website.
The studio is the first of three in the Computing Drawing series. In this iteration, drawing is treated as spatial delineator. The first exercise, for example, asks students to consider an algorithmically generated drawing as though it was in a stack, with other drawings above and below it. When those neighbor drawings are treated as the bounding planes for a three-dimensional spatial condition, the drawings influence each other towards a spatial resolution. Simultaneously, parameters and variables take on a different and more charged role in the context of disrupted authorship and conditional control. These drawings set the stage for a conceptual project to house serialized rectilinear volumes within strata for access, observation, isolation and enclosure (a racquetball club). More details and student work are available on the course website.
This course introduces computational techniques, methods, and ideas in the context of art and design. Studio projects first focus on the design of algorithms then shift to involve computer programming and scripting. Critical attention is given to code as a body of crafted text, as well as the tension, conflict, and potential possible when computation generates, informs or interacts with drawings, materials, forms, and spaces. Canonical computational works of art and design are presented and assigned for analysis. This course is open to students of all majors at RISD and is designed for those with little or no computation experience. This is one of two required courses required for the new undergraduate Computation Technology and Culture concentration. Its position outside of any department affords a unique opportunity to interrogate the capacity for computation to generate its own discipline and/or to serve as the cultural territory for meaningful, rigorous interdisciplinary discourse and practice. See the course website for more information