surface operations




Professor: Leighton Beaman

University of Virginia | School of Architecture

ARCH 4010

Campbell Hall | 3rd floor studios

M + F : 1:00pm - 4:45pm & W : 1:00pm - 2:30pm


Earth’s anthropocentric event layer spans over 2000 in depth. This includes the architectural, industrial, and infrastructural interventions made by humans. The vast majority of human activity only takes places within a small fraction of this deepth. That activity has today impacted over 85% of the Earth's surface.

Architecture accounts for a small proportion of direct impact, predominately in the form of habitation and occupation. Creating and sustaining our built environment , however, indirectly accounts for half of that impact. From the extraction of raw materials and energy, to the reconstruction of it’s formal composition, our build environment has become a geological scale surface reformation project.

Through  a series of connected assignments that address the spatial domains of landscape and architecture simultaneously, this studio will explore the built environment’s formal and performative relationship with Earth’s surface.

This exploration will be divided into three methodological chapters or frameworks. These are : Procedures, Provocations, and Propositions. Each will take on design problems embedded in both landscape architecture and architecture, but focus on different modes of design production.

The third chapter, Propositions, will take on a more traditional studio problem in the form of a building (or set of buildings) and a landscape (or set of landscapes) that address new programmatic appendages to the impending electric and automated vehicle transportation infrastructure- an Electro-Mat.

The final part or Epilogue, will allow us to reconsider the conceptual and physical products of the semester in preparation for a final review and submission of all studio projects to an ACSA competition.



Procedures are the transformation of idiosyncratic processes into iterative ones. Understanding both architectural surfaces and landform surfaces as the byproduct of formation processes (both human and nonhuman) links the two within a shared generative framework.  The first part of this semester will examine both architectural surfaces and landform surfaces through this shared approach using computational design methodologies. Traditional fundamental questions of composition, form, organization, and response will be addressed through these computational methodologies.


Provocations are deliberate actions intended to illicit a response from an individual, a system, or some assemblage of both. A provocation acknowledges the existence and adjacency of others - other actors, other environments, other rules, other motivations, other context. A provocation for design is one that agitates predictability and convention. In this second chapter we will explore formal, programmatic and preformative provocations.


Propositions are statements of inquiry and possibility. Propositions acknowledge both the current and future state of things. Propositions are aspirations grounded in an understanding of context. A proposition that is both architectural and landscape architectural is one that emerges from conceptualizing both as manufactured conditions. In this third chapter, we will create a hybrid landscape/architecture proposition, one that is realized through a procedurally generated provocations.


Epilogues are narrative devices. They are not endings, they are moments after endings, ones that lie both inside and outside a story, or in our case a project. Epilogues afford the opportunity for commentary and critique without leaving the space of the project. For our studio we will use the epilogue as a way to create a moment of reflection on our conceptual and physical production while maintaining our position within the space of the design proposition.  This translates into a critical re-presentation of our project.



All work and participation is graded using a points systems. Points are determined using three criteria, and distributed by the stated percentages and/or points. Points translate to grades from A - D in  +/- increments.


Grading will be determined by how well each student performs in the following areas: 

ch.01 | PROCEDURES : 30%

ch.02 | PROVOCATIONS : 20%

ch.03 | PROPOSITIONS : 30%




Grading will be determined by how well each student performs in the following areas: 

The understanding of the course/studio project at hand, combined with an appropriate process of inquiry & development of a consistent and rigorous analysis/design process with clearly articulated ideas.

The ability to accurately and precisely craft a digital and physical response to the analysis/design assignment.  This includes the ability to clearly and concisely communicate ideas, and produce well-formed digital and physical: models, diagrams, drawings, and images the project.

The ability to engage in the assignment with fellow students and your instructor & the ability to receive criticism and incorporate this into your project’s development. Your ability to work in groups, meet deadlines, and contribute to studio culture.



A | Excellent:  90 - 100 points  
Project / Course Work surpasses expectations in terms of inventiveness, appropriateness, verbal and visual presentation, conceptual rigor, craft, and personal development. Student pursues concepts and techniques above and beyond what is discussed in class. Project is complete on all levels.
B | Good: 80 - 90 points
Project / Course Work is thorough, well researched, diligently pursued, and successfully completed.  Student pursues ideas and suggestions presented in class and puts in effort to resolve required projects. Project is complete on all levels and demonstrates potential for excellence.
C | Acceptable: 70 - 80 points
Project / Course Work meets the minimum requirements. Suggestions made in class are not pursued with dedication or rigor. Project is incomplete in one or more areas.
D | Poor: 60 - 70 points
Project / Course Work is incomplete. Basic skills, technological competence, verbal clarity, and/or logic of presentation are not level-appropriate. Student does not demonstrate the required design skill and knowledge base. Work is incomplete.


Software & Hardware

This course focuses on manual and digital design and manufacturing processes & practices. You will be required to use the assigned hardware and software.

Each student is required to have a laptop or desktop with the following software installed on the first day of class, unless otherwise noted. Along with a desktop of laptop you are required to have and use a mouse.

Each student must complete any required training associated with the use of laser-cutters, CNC milling, and 3D printing at UVa. You will be expected to use this software and hardware throughout this course.  Training in VR software and hardware will be provided during the course



Rhino 5 (latest service release)

Grasshopper (latest release) + Relevant Plug-ins - TBD

Auto CAD v.2016 or higher

Adobe CS Suite (Illustrator + Indesign)

Catalyst (available in Architecture School Computer Labs)



Subtractive Manufacturing Techniques

Laser Cutting

CNC Milling/Routing (in class tutorial, if needed)

Kuka Robotic Arm (in class tutorial, if needed)

Additive Manufacturing Techniques

3D printer training

Kuka Robotic Arm (in class tutorial, if needed)

2D printing & plotting



The following adhere to the University of Virginia polices and may impact your grade. Please read carefully.


Students are required to participate in all class activities. Participation includes completing assignments and group presentations, contributing to class discussions, and presenting work. Each student is expected to come to class prepared with questions and comments about assigned reading(s), and completed assignments.



Students who are 15 minutes late to class will be marked late. 3 late days = 1 unexcused absence. 4 unexcused absences will result in a lowering of one letter grade, and an additional letter grade for each unexcused absence thereafter. Regardless of tardy of absence, students are responsible to complete all assignments on time, unless alternative arrangements have been made with the instructor.



The University of Virginia is committed to the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity. Members of the UVa community are expected to maintain complete honesty in all academic work, presenting only that which is their own work in tests and assignments. This includes recognition and adherence to the UVa honor code.



Any student who feels s/he may require accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately at the beginning of the semester to discuss specific needs. In addition, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at the University of Virginia's Department of Student Health directly to coordinate reasonable accommodations prior to the start of any UVa course if you need to discuss or implement solutions to specific needs.





There are two types of documentation for courses at UVA.  The first is documenting your own work. This has two parts.  The first is documentation for UVA's Archives, Publication (Web + Print) and Accreditation purposes. The second is my documentaion of your work for grading and future courses. The first is dictated by the School of architecture and will be sent to you during the semester. The second is outlined below.

The other form of documentation is the citation of other's work you used to produce your work. This includes but is not limited to: text, images, files, scripts, precedence, video, podcasts, web content, newpaper & journal articles, and group work.


Students are required to submit documentation of their work. Late submissions will be graded accordingly. Incomplete and/or failing grades will be given to any student who fails to submit both sets of work documentation

Documentation of all assignments and final project must be submitted to the instructor via Google Drive folder (link will be provided). This submission must include the following:

 1. Packaged InDesign file + PDF of final project board
 2. Photos of your final models, installations, prototypes, etc
 3. All files and requirements from previous assignments 

File naming convention for Individuals: 

For example: 2018_ARCH3020_Smith_A01_CirculationDiagram

File naming convention for Teams or Groups:

For example: 2018_ARCH3020_GroupA_A01_CirculationDiagram



Citing and crediting the work of others used in your own work is an important part of being both an academic and professional. It is also  considered plagiarism when non-trival portions of another's work is not credited or cited.

Failure to cite work used will effect your grade and may lead to an honor-code violation and/or university discipline. To avoid this, be rigorous in documenting what and where you get information and include proper credits and citations when you disseminate your work: Portfolios, Presentations, Websites, etc.

The School of Architecture Library has created a citation guide to assit you in determining how to cite work. For this course both Chicago Style and MLA are acceptable protocols. You may use either, but no both. 



Each week is shown in the following format: Monday | Wednesday | Friday, unless otherwise noted.

This schedule is subject to change at anytime to accommodate the needs of the studio, facility and equipment availability, review schedules or any unforeseen issues.  



Week 01 | Jan. 15

M | N/A

W | Studio: (rm. 220c)

Introduction to Ch 01

 A00 Assigned

F | Studio: (rm. 302A)

A00 Due  

Tutorial 01  

A01 Assigned


Week 02 | Jan. 22

M |  Studio:

W | Studio:

A01 Due 

A02 Assigned

F | Studio: (rm.302A)

Tutorial 02


Week 03 | Jan. 29

M | Studio:

W | Studio:

A02 Due

A03 Assigned

F | Studio: (rm.302A)

Tutorial 03


Week 04 | Feb. 05

M | Studio:

W | Studio:

F | Studio: (rm.302A)

Introduction to ch.02

A03 Part 01 Due

A04 Assigned




Week 05 | Feb. 12

M | Studio:

A03 Part 02 Due

W | Studio :

A04 Due

A05 Assigned

Tutorial 04

F | Studio : (rm.305)

Chapter 01 Review


Week 06 | Feb. 19

M | Studio: 

W | Studio:

A05 Due

A06 Assigned

F | Studio: (rm 302B)

A06 PART 01 Presentation


Week 07 | Feb. 26

M | Studio: (rm 304A)

Tutorial 05

Project Groups Assigned

W | Studio:

A06 PART 02 Due

F | Studio: (rm. 305)

ch.02 Pin-Up (A05 + A06)

A07 Assigned




Week 08 | Mar. 05

M: Spring Break

W: Spring Break

F: Spring Break


Week 09 | Mar. 12

M | Studio:

Introduction to ch. 03

W | Studio:

A07 Due

A08 Assigned

F | Studio :


Week 10 | Mar. 19

M | Studio:

A08 Due

A09 Assigned

W | Studio:

F | Studio:

A09 Due

A10 Assigned


Week 11 | Mar. 26

M | Studio:

A11 Due

A12 Assigned

W | Studio:


F | Review: (rm. 305)

ch.02 + ch. 03 

A12 Due

A13 Assigned


Week 12 | Mar. Apr. 02

M | Studio:

W | Studio: 

F | Studio:

A13 Due

A14 Assigned


Week 13 | Apr. 09

M | Studio:

W | Studio: 

F |  Studio:




Week 14 | Apr. 16

M | Review: (rm. 205)

ch.02 + ch. 03 Review 02

W | Studio:

Introduction to the Epilogue

F | Studio:

3D Print Deadline

Mock-Presentations 01


Week 15 | Apr. 23

M | Studio: (rm. 305)


W | Studio: (rm. 305)


F | Studio:

Mock-Presentations 02


Week 16 | Apr. 30

M | Studio:

Working Day

W | Plot & Pin-Up Deadline





* tentative at best