Architecture School, a six-part documentary series featuring students and professors in Tulane University's School of Architecture, will debut on the Sundance Channel on Aug. 20, 2008. Created by architect and Woodbury University School of Architecture professor Stan Bertheaud (also a film writer) and producer/director Michael Selditch (a former educator with an architecture background), the series focuses on URBANbuild, the Tulane program that gives architecture students the opportunity to design and build a prototype house in a New Orleans neighborhood damaged after Hurricane Katrina.
Founded in 2005 before Hurricane Katrina struck, URBANbuild provides community design services to low-income neighborhoods and builds one house per academic year. Design begins in the fall semester and is followed by construction during the spring semester. According to architecture professor Byron Mouton, AIA, co-director of URBANbuild, the program's goal is to restitch the fabric of New Orleans, employing new ideas and traditional methods of building homes. (For more on Mouton, click here.)
Mouton says Bertheaud and Selditch specifically wanted to film a design/build architecture program to show viewers how students move from the world of drawing to the world of fabricating. "They also thought the idea of a documentary of what architects do in combination with what is happening in New Orleans would be really great for the city," he explains.
Selditch and the film crew spent the 2007-2008 academic year documenting the studio and construction work of the dozen or so URBANbuild students as they designed and built a house in the Central City neighborhood, an older part of the city that suffers from decades of neglect, but remains culturally rich. The filmmakers also documented the students' experience of balancing academic demands and social interests.
Mouton recently sat through a screening of the completed series. "It does a great job of documenting the ups and downs of the program and documenting students being very successful with work and ideas, but [it] also [shows] the frustrations that come hand in hand with unsuccessful design attempts. I think the program will do a great service to our profession."
Visit www.sundancechannel.com/series/architecture_school for future episode scheduling. View clips from episodes of Architecture School: