Designing the Georgia Tech Atrium

Associate Dean of Research envisions a distributed worldwide presence

April 14, 2021 | By GTPE Communications
Stephen Harmon standing in front of a window

What is the future of architectural education? How does this, or can this, impact strategic thinking about curricular structures? Where and how can we be radical? Julie Ju-Youn Kim, Associate Professor, Associate Chair, and Director of the undergraduate architecture program at Georgia Tech, applies these questions as the foundation for her new publication, "Dialogues in Design Thinking: reconsidering the interdisciplinary design studio experience in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech." Through the specific lens of interdisciplinary, the book examines the impact of interdisciplinary learning in architecture education.

Featuring contributions from design experts at both the Institute and its peers in higher education, the publication shares the outcomes from five years of interdisciplinary studio activity from the landscape architecture program at the University of Georgia and from the Georgia Tech Schools of Industrial Design, Digital Media, Building Construction, Electrical Computer Engineering, and Engineering.

As a contributing author, Stephen Harmon, associate dean of Research at Georgia Tech Professional Education, reflects upon the initial ambitions and outcomes of a senior design studio dubbed the GT Atrium.

In his essay, "Designing the Georgia Tech Atrium: an adventure in education innovation," Harmon shares that students in Architecture and Industrial Design were tasked with developing programmatic ideas, user experience story boards, and architectural and furniture drawings to bring the concept of a distributed worldwide presence to fruition. 

"This would not be a campus, nor even a classroom, but more of a co-learning space, where our learners would be able to get together to work on their online classes, regardless of content area, degree program, or credit or non-credit status," wrote Harmon [p. 56]. "Instead of going to a local coffee shop to do their classwork, they could go to a purpose-built facility and meet other Georgia Tech learners. Thus, they could find the learning community thriving on campus but often missing from online education."

Using the elements of the students' designs, the atrium team secured initial funding for the development of the first prototype and are hopeful the first atrium will open in Spring of 2022.

To read more about the GT Atrium, download Dialogues in Design Thinking.