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Master of Architecture Thesis 2015: Architectures of Cultural Transformation
Master of Architecture Thesis 2015: 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 four outstanding theses from the 2015 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, were displayed at the Center for Architecture | AIA Portland in our exhibition THESIS: Architectures of Cultural Transformation in fall 2016Visit the event page to learn more.

Karina Adams: Repetitive Haptic Making: A Technique for Recognizing that Time and Space are Interconnected

How can architecture construct a spatial narrative where repetition and haptic making are utilized to help a person be present in the moment and recognize that time and space are interconnected?


Nada Maani: Refugee Camp to City: From Reactive to Resilient

How can architecture transform a refugee camp into a child-friendly city that is designed around existing social networks?

Will Uebelacker: SprawLESS Suburbs: Unifying Town & Country

How can suburban sprawl be restructured to accommodate smart growth principles while incorporating agricultural land?


Reid Weber: Exchanging Densities: Intersecting Industrial Waste Processing with the Public Landscape

How can architecture make the waste process more transparent?  What kind of food waste recovery system can be implemented in the urban context to make dense urban communities understand how their waste is meaningful beyond its initial use?