Mark Childs, associate dean for research in The University of New Mexico School of Architecture & Planning, teaches Architecture 551: Research Methods, a course designed to give graduate architecture students the skills to develop a research proposal.
Although the class featured many more students and projects, below is a sample of some of their work.
Alaa Hamid got her undergraduate degree in architectural engineering at the University of Sudan. She earned a master’s in landscape architecture at UNM and is now pursuing a master’s in architecture. She researched the ways and means to integrate landscape and architecture education for a better interdisciplinary education.
“Michaelangelo was the designer, architect and engineer of his projects. Look at his results,” Hamid said.
When Hamid studied landscape, she was curious what the architecture students were working on. “My aim is to collect and analyze different educational models as case studies, while also reviewing interdisciplinary best practices to be able to understand the relationship between the two disciplines,” she said. Hamid asks how design studio problems can help reframe the way landscape and landscape architecture interact.
She noted that with more opportunities to interact and connect, the students would be better prepared to enter the workforce where it will be required.
Sindhuri Patllola earned her undergraduate architecture degree at the University of Hyderabad in India. She is working toward her master’s in architecture at UNM. Her research looked at bad indoor air quality in a wood fabrication lab and what measures can help to improve it.
“Indoor air quality can be impacted by sawdust, paints and resin residue. Hazardous chemical compositions are released when they are used,” Patllola said. She noted that the machines themselves can be a factor. “Each machine is equipped with an exhaust system which draws air out. They remove the good and bad air from the room,” she said.
Her research proposal includes conducting interviews with those who use the machines and observations of each machine. She research revealed that the best practice is set by the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Moving from within the school to the larger community in their research proposals are Brayra Lara and Ronald Rozelle.
Lara was an AVID student in California who met with a UNM recruiter. She heard from her teachers that UNM would provide her with the support to succeed in college. Lara came to UNM, earned a bachelor's in Communication & Journalism and is currently finishing a graduate degree in architecture.
Lara tackled health and wellness initiatives within elementary education. “Specifically, I was looking at how architecture and the built environment can help reduce obesity in children in K through 6 grades,” she said.
She explored everything from open playgrounds for physical education to food gardens and an “edible curriculum.” “Farm to Table works with schools – it is integrated into the curriculum and beyond through policy, planning and partnership,” Lara said. She said that many factors, including socioeconomic issues such as safe neighborhoods to play and access to stores selling healthy food, contribute to childhood obesity.
Her research revealed that the World Health Organization’s Health Promotion Schools strive to provide a healthy environment, school health education and school health services along with school/community projects and outreach. Health Promotion Schools also offer health promotion programs for staff, nutrition and food safety programs, as well as opportunities for physical education and recreation, with counseling, social and mental health support and promotion.
“WHO’s Health Promotion Schools have been widely embraced and implemented around the world, but the only model in the United States is in California,” Lara said.
Ronald Rozelle retired after 20 years as a stockbroker in Denver and returned to his native Albuquerque to study architecture. His research proposal question is “What is the Future of the Gayborhood?” Rozelle will actually be able to follow up on his research question because he is exploring the topic further for another course he is taking this semester.
Rozelle’s proposal addresses the development and evolution of districts throughout the country that became known as “gayborhoods.” Prior to the 1800s, gays were not ostracized. It was with the advent of the Victorian Era that gays were shoved to the margins,” he said, adding that they were segregated because the population was said to display “deviant sexual behavior.”
By the 1920s, the areas became safe havens and a source of income. Following World War II, the villages went underground “due to the emergence of the moral and political climate of the ‘red scare’ and religious evangelism.
By the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, the gay community reemerged following the June 1969 Stonewall Riots, and “gay neighborhoods continued to provide the safety, protection and economic means for the community to flourish,” he said.
His research will explore the period from the 1980s to present within the gay communities, which have battled civil rights to gain acceptance in housing, military jobs and beyond, while continuing the battle of HIV/AIDS.
Rozelle’s research also explores the present and future of the gay community to discover whether or not there is still a need for gayborhoods and how they fit into the urban landscape.
“Architecture requires a whole set of skills. Design is but one. Multiple research methods are also an integral part of those skills, which are necessary to be a good architect,” Childs said.