Sustainability: Reimagining the Built Environment and the Written Word

Winter 2017
Credits per quarter

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This program is a repeat of the program in fall quarter.  Students who take the program in fall should not register for the winter quarter program.

In this program, we will explore issues of sustainability in the context of the built environment and the community around us.  Through observation, academic and creative writing, research and presentation students will work to define sustainability in architecture--in new, existing, and hybrid structures.  Together, we will answer: How do elements relate to the users?  What is the influence of site?  How is energy use considered?  What does net-zero mean?   How can re-visioning the existing fabric work to achieve more sustainable structures and communities? 

Our focus in this writing-intensive program will be on pursuing ideas and concepts that re-use, re-habilitate, re-energize, and re-define the existing fabric of the urban and suburban built environment.  Through discussion in small peer groups and critical and creative writings, we will examine the ideas presented in the literature.  Students will also practice honing their close reading skills through reflective writing exercises and will develop and articulate their new understandings by means of response papers, reflective journals, bibliographic summaries, and creative assignments. Students improve their ability to write thesis-driven essays defended with evidence from the assigned texts in weekly workshops. They will also be challenged to re-imagine and revitalize the conventional notion of an essay.

Students will visit local and regional examples of civic and commercial projects that exemplify sustainability goals to help students envision how these ideas are incorporated and expressed in the built form.  Through group research projects focused on site influences and design choices of existing projects, students will identify design elements, document materials choices, and understand energy use.  As part of a culminating project, students will create annotated site plans and use basic 2-D drawing skills in developing conceptual design proposals, supported by written arguments to propose solutions that can re-imagine and re-define a new use for an existing structure.


This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: urban design, urban planning, architecture, and writing.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Approximately $50 for drawing supplies.


$25 for entrance fees.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Tuesday, January 10th at 2pm (Sem II E1105)

2016-12-13This program now accepts enrollment for all class levels (Fr-Sr).
2016-11-21Five sophomore seats have been reserved for first year students who have transferred in with credit.
2016-03-31New winter opportunity added.