Transformations Studio featured in Harvard Magazine


“Architecture as Liberal Arts: Building an Undergraduate Design Program”

By Stephanie Garlock

Harvard Magazine | January - February 2015

Zaneta Hong was featured in the latest Harvard Magazine for her undergraduate architecture studio, the Transformations Studio.

“Design has no boundaries. It permeates through any kind of profession.”

New concentrators begin with “Transformations,” a studio that focuses on “the development of a common language”—of surface, frame, volume, and composite—according to Zaneta Hong, a lecturer in landscape architecture who taught the course for the past two years. Like Mulligan and Smith, she begins the semester with the simplest of transformations: folding a piece of paper in half. From there, students learn technical skills like digital modeling and laser cutting, and incorporate new materials like Plexiglas™ during the semester. What they never get in this first studio is an assignment to design what most people think of as architecture—a structure to be inhabited, on a site, with a specific use or “program.” Even the final project remains abstract, the only guideline being to “transform” paper, museum board, and Plexiglas™, within the constraints of a five-by-five-inch model. “The luxury to be able to focus solely on the design aspects is a good thing to do for a little while,” says Angie Jo ’16, who took Transformations last spring. “I never could have expected that you could get so much conversation, so much thought and creative iterations, out of such a small seed.”