top of page

University of Washington


This was the third year of the PCI Foundation Studio at the University of Washington. As in the previous year, the program started with a graduate-level architectural de- sign studio in the Winter Quarter (January 2018, co-taught with Jim Nicholls) and has continued as a targeted graduate research study also in the Winter Quarter and into Spring. This program built off the experience of the previous year, allowing students to design with precast concrete in thoughtful yet responsible ways. The studio again connected students to the com- munity of precast professionals in the Pacific Northwest, as a useful network in their emerging careers.

In the third and final year of the PCI Foundation Studio at the University of Washington, we allowed the students to expand the programmatic ambitions of the precast project. While previous studios started from specific programmatic requirements, this studio ‘loosened the reigns’ and allowed students to use precast as the medium for a more open exploration of architectural potentials. Still dedicated to the durability and flexibility that precast offers, our studio encouraged students to open up new realms of precast possibilities within a drastically changing urban realm. With increasing density, growing inequity, and less reliance on single-occupancy/ owner vehicles, cities – and Seattle in particular – must create amore collaborative, adaptive built environment, and address challenges of municipal water reuse, urban food production, and public access to services while growing the strength of the community.

The studio was offered as Architecture 501, a required graduate-level studio at the University of Washington. In the Winter Quarter, studio had 11 graduate students enrolled and employed a graduate student assistant, Sarah Chan – a student from the previous year’s precast studio. The 501 studio is commonly known as the “tectonic studio” because of the intensive focus on design development, materials, and structures. The studio emphasizes inquiry into spatial section, structural form, tectonic 2 syntax, material choice, and detail development. Objective constructional constraints and subjective contextual and cultural responses are equally valued.

The program impacted many architectural students in a variety of ways – including the design studio context, and as an active material research project. While the initial phase of the program may be ending, the legacy of the precast continues to echo through the program. The graduate students in the studios – as alumni of the program. Through the combination of design studio and research programs, this work gives architecture students an in-depth under- standing of the material and design potentials of precast concrete.


• Concrete Technology Corp

• DLR Group
• Knife River
• Vector Structures

• Oldcastle

bottom of page