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Course Detail

Term Winter 2017
Class ARCH 509
Class Title Healthy Building
Description Toxic pollutants in buildings are generally invisible but can have profound detrimental effect on occupant health. Harmful substances are found in many commonplace building products that make up our homes, workplaces, and public spaces. These products pose a significant health threat when disturbed, burnt, or through the release of particles and chemicals over the product’s life span.

Today, with a marketplace that is saturated in synthetics, regulations that mean well but often do harm, contractual relationships in which “means and methods” are the purview of contractors, and an industry in which “construction know-how” is very low - frequently supplanted with “manufacturers' installation instructions” - the role the architect as specifier of material products and arbitrator of potential health risks is of great importance.

Inspired by new efforts led by architects and designers who are rethinking the material content of architecture and paving a way towards a healthier, more sustainable future, this course will introduce students to an array of leading texts and resources on the proliferation of known carcinogens and other toxins in the built environment. The course will examine a handful of harmful substances regularly found in building construction, the government agencies that let it happen, the regulations that require it, the risks posed to occupants (and building trades), and the steps being taken to mitigate the problem. Students will conduct independent research visa-vie a series of interrelated design studies. Together, we will assemble a precautionary list of building materials commonly used in contemporary space design and construction details, set out to study the chemical origins on the list, identify the regulations and reasons for each chemical’s use, and prepare specifications for the alternative materials, furnishings, or handling instructions which would better protect occupants. The semester will end with a review and publication of the class’ findings.
Prereq none entered yet
Crosslist none
Required No
Elective Yes
Selective No
Meets Thursday 9:00am-12:00pm East Review
Credits 3
Faculty Joel Schmidt
Syllabus not available