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ARCH 409 – Becoming Digital


It is now commonly accepted that pervasive network technologies are reshaping our world. But these technologies don’t simply reshape our surroundings, they reshape us – as both designers and users. As architects, we work in teams, with experts from other fields, and with tools that imbricate legions of programmers, algorithms, and bandwidth. Design is a collaboration of people and technology. We labor within an ecology of media that defines not only how we work, but increasingly how we think, behave, and relate to one another. If buildings are plugged in, then so are we.

Reflecting on the status of the digital in contemporary architecture demands renewed critical attention towards how architects work and the products of our labor. Our methods of design are evermore connected on a computational level to our methods of dissemination, communication, and social networking, and indeed to those of our culture at large. If design is to adapt to this increasingly wired world, it must confront the technologies reshaping large sectors of the economy - from big data to machine learning to automation. 

Becoming Digital serves as an introduction to the pressing concerns sparked by the embeddedness of architecture and design in ubiquitous networks of digital technology. The course includes lectures, readings, discussions, field trips, and guest presentations, each probing broad and fundamental questions about design in the digital age. Example topics include software, algorithms, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtual reality, and games. Together we will listen, discuss, investigate, and experience. Our goal will be to gain digital literacy – characterized by a broad understanding of how technology works, its inherent biases, and its effect on people – with a commitment to a more healthful, equitable, and just world encouraged by design. 



Thu 8:30-11:30am 1360 A&AB


Ellie Abrons


Course Brief

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning