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Master of Architecture Theses 2014: Architectures of Cultural Transformation
Master of Architecture Theses 2014: 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.


Chris Kline: Creative Common Ground Reclaim the In-Between: An Open-Source Approach to Public Space.

What new forms of urban public experience can emerge from the creative activation of seemingly under-utilized, vacant and residual urban space? How can the existing in-between condition created by highway infrastructure on Portland’s Eastbank be reactivated for public engagement?



Josiah Henley: A Home in the Fields: New Farmworker Housing for Woodburn, Oregon

Using lessons learned from Woodburn, how can a new architecture for farm worker housing help create an infrastructure for migrant farm workers that promotes communal identity in the transitory political, social, and agricultural landscape of small-town, rural America?