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Semester of Architecture Training Informs Study of Singapore’s Urbanization

Nathan Bullock, a Ph.D. student in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, spent last semester at the Yale School of Architecture. His aim was to gain practical and technical knowledge from a professional program, work with practicing architects in their studios and inform the application of architectural theory to his dissertation research on contemporary Singapore.

Bullock was among 19 graduate students from five schools at Duke who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants last spring to for training beyond their core disciplines. His faculty mentor was Annabel Wharton. Now back on Duke’s campus, he shared this update.

I had an excellent experience through my semester away at the Yale School of Architecture (YSOA). I was able to participate in the advanced design studio of Peter Eisenman and attend other classes while absorbing the culture of the YSOA.

My study of architecture—its history, theory, and criticism—was greatly enhanced by spending last semester at YSOA. Not only is the YSOA one of the best schools of architecture in the country for education and training of new architects, it also has a significant influence in the wider professional world of architecture.

Being in that environment allowed me to connect with many colleagues who guide the dominant discussions that are taking place in the field currently. Seeing how students learn about architecture in a professional program was eye-opening in comparison to the approach taken by humanists in an art history department.

I was most struck by how deep the divide really was between theory and practice. Being in studio allowed me to watch and listen to how architects think and talk about architecture and the ways in which they use history and theory. This experience will certainly change how I interact with and write about the architects I study in my dissertation research.

This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages graduate students to step away from their core research and training to acquire additional skills, knowledge or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories. Learn more and apply by March 29.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Bullock (at the Yale Art Gallery)