The Forensics Studio is the final studio in the Master of Architecture program at South Dakota State University's Department of Architecture (DoArch). The studio investigates a range of architecture projects completed by the leading architecture firms in the state of South Dakota. During their last semester of study student teams collaborate with one participating architecture firm to research the firm’s methods of work and to unfold the critical workflows of that practice.
The idea of architectural work is a complete mystification that obscures the fact that behind the production of something there is a much larger and wider agency than what is acknowledged in the public presentation of architectural work.
Pier Vittorio Aureli
The work of the studio centers on making visual narratives from invisible and seemingly dull professional processes. How could we describe and understand the development of a building through the study of meeting minutes, requests for information, emails, and other ubiquitous tasks that consume our professional world? Visualizing under-examined professional processes to theorize about architectural labor is at the center of this academic project.
The primary vehicle for making these processes visible is the collaborative design and development of several Forensics Books. The narrative of these books happens at the intersection of precedent study, professional practice, and speculative research.
Since January 2016, thirty-eight (38) students, six (6) professional practices, and fifteen (15) architects have participated in the study of eighteen (18) buildings across South Dakota. The Forensics Studio is led by DoArch faculty, Federico Garcia Lammers.
Forensics Studio pedagogy is being used in the Specs Studio at DoArch
Added to B-A-R-F, an online teaching platform about the Building Arts
Awarded the 2020 AIA/ACSA Practice and Leadership Award by American Institute of Architects and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Exhibited as I Didn’t Do Architecture Today... at the ACSA/European Association for Architectural Education Conference: Practice of Teaching, Teaching of Practice hosted by the University of Antwerp, Belgium
Poster, published and presented as Professional Landscapes at the End of Education in the Feedback Processes in Practice and Pedagogy Project Session at the 107th ACSA Conference hosted by Carnegie Mellon University
Paper, published and presented as Dull Professional Data from Ordinary Precedents in the Search, Research, Repeat Paper Session at the 107th ACSA Conference hosted by Carnegie Mellon University
Federico Garcia Lammers. Studio Coordinator. Associate Professor. DoArch
Brian T. Rex. Studio Advisor. Department Head and Associate Professor. DoArch
Jessica Garcia Fritz. Studio Advisor. Assistant Professor. DoArch
TSP Inc. (2016 – Current)
CO-OP Architecture (2017 – Current)
Koch Hazard Architects (2016 – 17)
JLG Architects (2016 – Current)
Design Arc (2016)
Daniel James Bilka
Iman Ebadi Paskiabi
Alejandro Marin Rodriguez
The project in the Forensics Studio is an investigation into the decision-making and execution of a series of existing buildings in South Dakota. Through the making of time-based images and books, students explore networks of performances affecting the production of architecture.
The studio defines forensics in three ways:
1. Referring to the (forum) and the practice of making an argument.
2. Referring to the (techniques) used to develop investigative strategies.
3. Referring to (time) and the non-linear sequencing of events.
These three ways of referring to forensics are embedded into three steps that connect the studio schedule with its intellectual scope.
The first step is an investigation of the building’s effects – basic functions and architectural relationships, and the links among owner, architect, financiers, and building professionals. After being connected to the project’s architects, engineers, contractors, and clients, students interrogate the situation and graphically dissect the building.
The second step is connecting the facts of the project into a plausible story of how the project got to the way it is. In this phase students are graphically mapping out webs of interconnectivity between people, tools, and place. Webs are mapped by analyzing content and documents shared by the architecture firms.
The third step is the graphical telling of each of these stories of a building process, and re-presenting the building to the project’s progenitors and the region’s professional community. Where the crux of the story lies both structurally and stylistically is the critique. The critique is based on linking broad disciplinary questions to specific professional processes.
The aim of this work is to make the practice of architecture in this region of the United States the direct subject of a studio. Below is some evidence of the ongoing investigations conducted by students and faculty.