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Master of Architecture Thesis 2013: Architectures of Cultural Transformation
Master of Architecture Thesis 2013: Architectures of Cultural Transformation

A major component of the Master of Architecture degree at Portland State University is the design thesis, which takes place in the final year of this program. The aim of our design thesis program is not to rest simply in proposing another building. As the culmination of a graduate architectural education, the design thesis is a singular opportunity for an individual to proclaim a position, state a case, articulate what matters and communicate this through the language of architecture. 

Through a combination of rigorous research and creative exploration of a polemical issue framed as a question, our thesis students discover their passion for the contribution architecture can make to the transformation of culture. The response to this question is developed and shared in the form of hand and digital drawings, material studies, scale models, artifacts, and writing, which are presented by the student to a panel of resident and visiting faculty and professionals in an hour-long oral defense. Every student also compiles their thesis research and design process in a professionally printed book. 

Below are selected images taken from three outstanding theses from the 2016 Master of Architecture class. These students' thesis books, together with books representing the theses from all six years of the program since its inception in 2010, are on display at the Center for Architecture | AIA Portland in our exhibition THESIS: Architectures of Cultural Transformation, through November 4. Visit the event page to learn more.

Dustin Buzzard: Painting the Town Pink: Queer Interventions in Portland’s Public Realm

How can architecture use the public realm to confront and encourage people to talk openly about or confront their varying views on queer sexuality as an ever-present and integral part of any vibrant city supporting the human condition. Through the act of staking a place and a presence in the public realm, can homosexual-centered, or queer-centered spatial interventions benefit public interest and also reawaken Portland’s diluted sense of queer identity?


Klara Jolesz: Maximum House: Home for the New Dreamers: A New Model for Contemporary Practice

Developing an architectural practice based on the notion of inhabitant autonomy, with the mission of creating an alternative to the indebting traditional single-family American home through the emerging phenomenon of “small home building?”


Matt Sedor: Unraveling Temporalities Across the Urban Landscape: Synchronizing the Human Stride with Temporal Arcs Entwined in a Southeast Portland Industrial Neighborhood

What if the urban landscape was reconceived and modified to be experienced as temporalities unfolding, as opposed to objects in space?