Our Design Studios

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The Courses
The Studio
The Presentation
Sources and Supplies

The Courses

The Studio

Through the generous support of the Bolton Foundation, the design studio in Rockefeller is a beautifully equipped facility—with oak drafting tables fitted out with luxo lamps, parallel slides and stools, a well-lit pin up space, and flat files for storage. The high ceilinged room is a wonderful and inspiring place in which to work.

Each student will have the privilege of working in the Rockefeller Studio at an individually-assigned desk. Students will have OneCard access to the studio as well as a key to their desks. This will enable you to work at your own pace and schedule.

It is our teaching philosophy that you will learn as much from your instructors as you will from your peers. The studio experience, working together as you inevitably will, should be one in which you exchange ideas, share the pressure of deadlines, and hopefully grow in your sophistication in presentation techniques, design concepts, and camaraderie. Using the facility is a privilege that comes with responsibilities of mutual respect and sensitivity.

Once you have been given your desk assignments, please see Margaret Kelly or Migdalia Carrasquillo in the Cities office for keys to the desks. A $10 deposit is required, which will be returned to you at the end of the course once you return your key and leaving the desks in good condition. OneCard access to the studio is typically set up by the Cities office after obtaining a class list from the Registrar, so this should require no intervention on your part.

Studio Rules:

  1. Safety first. Please, use judgment in terms of when to use the room. If you must be in the studio late at night, either make sure someone else is with you or you have informed Public Safety. Never let anyone into the studio that is not either known to you, or has their own key.
  2. Safety again: In using your tools, make sure you understand how they are to be used and that you are not too tired to use them.
  3. There are other classes offered in this space, so you must put your work away, leaving your desk tops clear, when you leave the studio.
  4. We depend on the honor code, but you should lock your drawer.
  5. Food and drink are not allowed. There is too much risk of ruining either your own work, or that of others.
  6. Please clean up. Housekeeping will not throw anything away except what has been put in the trash cans. Please make sure that the trash gets there.


Daniela Holt Voith, Voith & Mactavish Architects (2401 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA)

Sam Olshin, FAIA Senior Lecturer


We assume that you are coming to this studio with a very high level of interest and energy and willingness to work.

  • We expect that you will be working together as a class to engender a mutually supportive atmosphere. This atmosphere is one in which serious investigation can take place.
  • We expect that you will stretch yourselves, think in new and different ways and bring as much as you can to each class.
  • We expect that you will be prepared for your individual critiques and class discussions by having drafts of drawings and sketches to show, images culled from any source possible that you find exciting, and books that you find interesting.
  • We expect that you will share your ideas with us and your peers in an open dialogue.
  • We expect that you will use the world as your source book, that you will look, sketch, and learn from the places that you go. You will keep a visual lexicon of the places that you find beautiful, interesting, exciting, or appalling.
  • We expect that you will bring what you have learned in other classes into this classroom and be prepared to think not just about design of the object at hand, but the context in which one might find it.
  • We do NOT expect that you know how to do this already.

The Presentation

There will be few actual papers required in this class, though at times you will be asked to present research. There are no exams. Instead the focus is on the final presentations required for each project. We may or may not have invited guests attend these presentations. We find these guests often offer a different and interesting perspective to the class discussion.

You will be asked to pin up your work and present it to the class. You will likely be amazed at the quality of your own work and that of your peers. The presentations are the culmination of weeks of work and they are often exciting.
Here are some guidelines for a successful presentation:

  1. You must not miss these presentations. It is impossible to reschedule them. If, for very serious reasons you cannot complete the work by the presentation date, you should talk with me, and/or your dean in advance. If you are healthy, you should attend even if you have gotten permission not to pin up. And please try your best to be well rested.
  2. Prepare a short verbal description of what your focus has been during your investigation of the problem. You should assume that your critics can read plans, so you do not need to be overly detailed about where everything is - talk about design intent, inspiration, and objectives. If you are the first person to present you may be asked to describe the focus of the studio as well.
  3. You should think of your drawings as you would of a final paper. They should be neat, easy to read from a distance, and well composed graphically. If you are using a number of sheets, they should relate to each other in size, be trimmed and hung straight on the wall. If in doubt, pin your drawings up in advance to see how they "read."
  4. Lettering should be beautifully printed or traced. The printing should not overwhelm the drawings, but be in support of them.
  5. In responding to the commentary, it is well not to get defensive, but to listen and answer as best as you can. Remember there is really no right or wrong, just a furthering of your own, and the class's understanding of the thinking and resolution of the work. Often, what a critic says about one project will apply as well to the next so keep your ears open even if you are not in the hot seat.
  6. You may want to pin up study sketches, models, and the like as they relate to the development of the final project.
  7. Plan for this to be a later and longer evening than usual and try not to make other commitments that will prevent you from hearing the entire studio's commentary.
  8. Have fun. If you have a question or comment during your peer's presentation, by all means chime in.

Sources and Supplies

You will be given an assigned desk, lamp, drawing board cover, chair, and parallel slide. You'll be responsible for the care of these items. You may lock your drawing equipment in the desk drawer, and you will be given a flat file drawer in which to store your work.

Things to purchase:

  • lead holders
  • lead: F, H, HB, 2H (depends on how you like to draw)

  • lead pointer: Berol Turquoise makes an inexpensive one which works
  • paper:
    1) a roll of 12" white or yellow tracing paper
    2) vellum: this comes in sheets or you can get together with a classmate and buy a roll (1000H clearprint), at least 24" wide. All final drawings should be presented on this
  • drafting tape
  • adjustable triangle
  • large 30-60-90 triangle
  • architect's scale
  • compass
  • circle template (optional)
  • French curve (optional)
  • colored pencils: Prismacolors
  • push pins

Where to buy your supplies: (always ask for student discount)

  • Merion Art & Repro, 17 West Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, PA (610) 896-6161
  • Utrecht Art Supplies, 301 South Broad St., Philadelphia, PA (215) 546-7798 or 2020 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA (215) 563-5600
  • Blick Art Materials, 128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 972-2035
  • Joseph Fox Book Store, 1724 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 563-4148
  • A.I.A Bookstore, 1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA (866) SHOP-AIA
  • Penn University Bookstore, 3601 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA (215) 898-7595


Your final grade will be determined by the grades you receive on your projects, as well as in-class participation. We will be looking for well worked-through design solutions, quality of presentation, responsiveness to critiques, and interaction with other students in class. You will also be required to keep a sketch book which will be graded at the end of the semester.


Contact Us

Department of Growth and Structure of Cities

Old Library
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: 610-526-5334