STUDENTS TAKE A MODERN LOOK AT A HISTORIC HOME
Sara Sachs '00 may be only halfway through a degree program in the School of Architecture, but she's already submitted renovation proposals for Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwatera house built in 1939 by the famed architect in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, that is now a historic preservation site.
Sachs is a student in Theodore Ceraldi's Technical Design III course, composed of third-year and graduate students who are taking a modern look at this old structure. "Our goal is to make Fallingwater more energy efficient; after all, it was built more than 50 years ago," says Sachs. "Our task was to redesign windows, doors, and wall and ventilation systems without altering the current appearance of the house."
Twelve investigative teams of seven to eight students each worked with construction documents from Wright's archives and viewed slides of Fallingwater to assess the work needed. "It was a great exercise to have students use this major piece of 20th-century architecture and apply new technology for thermal resistance and energy conservation," Ceraldi says.
Sachs, a team captain, and her group were responsible for adding double-pane glass and thermal breaks to windows, doors, and skylights. Other groups documented current conditions and redesigned plumbing and wall systems.
Team captain Mary Soper '00 and her group tackled the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. "The course gave me a much better understanding of the system we had to add, rather than just hearing about it in a lecture," says Soper, who would like to incorporate historic preservation into her professional career. "The project also gave us the experience of working in a team environment, a situation architects often find themselves in."
After the six-week process, the students traveled to Fallingwater to observe the structure firsthand. "The trip takes place after the project so students have an opportunity to look at the architecture spatially and physically with a deeper understanding of what Wright accomplished," Ceraldi explains.
Although Ceraldi would ultimately like to see the students' work published, he emphasizes that it is also important for them to have such substantial designs as part of their portfolios. "Syracuse University is a student-centered research institution, and this is a fantastic teaching method at this level in a professional school of architecture," he says. "It allows them the opportunity to be research scholars."
NATALIE A. VALENTINE
WRITING PROGRAM ADDS A PH.D. IN COMPOSITION AND CULTURAL RHETORIC
Soon after coming to The College of Arts and Sciences in 1987 as the founding director of the Writing Program, Louise Wetherbee Phelps proposed a Ph.D. program in composition and cultural rhetoric that she believed would "help the University achieve a distinguished, dynamic undergraduate writing program based in the research and theory of the discipline." The program, designed to prepare the next generation of faculty to meet the evolving needs of an increasingly diverse population of undergraduates, was approved less than 10 years later and accepted its first official class in fall 1997.
"In our first year, we have already been recognized as a major program, drawing applicants from across the United States," says Phelps, who now serves as director of graduate studies for the Writing Program. Phelps coordinated the faculty effort to develop the curriculum and rationale for the program and worked with current Writing Program director Keith Gilyard to get the state's approval.
The doctoral program is designed to provide a broad general background in composition and cultural rhetoric. Through the course of the program, students are exposed to diverse viewpoints on written language and its relationship to culture. According to Phelps, the program is expected to draw students from around the world because of its strong faculty and its flexibility in preparing candidates for academic and professional careers in teaching, research, program design and administration, consulting, and other related disciplines.
"Students are drawn to the autonomy of the doctoral program and its location within an independent department (the Writing Program) whose work focuses on writing and rhetoric," Phelps says. "Our program is specifically designed to prepare them for careers in studying and teaching writing and rhetoric."
Other aspects of the degree that appeal to students and distinguish the Syracuse University program from those at other universities include a high faculty-to-student ratio that results in personal attention and mentoring support, the potential for cross-cultural rhetoric studies, and the encouragement students receive to take a historically informed approach to contemporary theory and teaching.
Phelps says students are also impressed with the student-centered nature of the program, which provides a form of graduate instruction that is built around questions instead of theoretical dogmas. Explicit attention is given to teaching the processes and ethics of scholarship. For example, students are expected to master computer-mediated technologies for scholarship and teaching and study other disciplines that contribute to understanding written language.
As Phelps concludes: "Through professional development, students are prepared not just for research, but for all aspects of faculty lifeincluding teaching, professional service, and Writing Program administration."