Andrea MacQueen Swartz, architect A to z
Associate Professor Andrea Swartz is an architect, artist and educator. Her essential pursuit is exploring design as an interrelated process of seeing (photography), making (small structures, landscape, photographic displays, furnishings, objects) and communicating the ideas propelling these (through photography, drawings and words). This process is inspired by any opportunity to see more clearly, learn more deeply, and engage issues of human use, materiality, and craft. With this pursuit, Swartz has participated in regional, national and international architectural design and art competitions where her submissions have received numerous awards. REUSEKAH, second place recipient at the design competition/exhibition Sukkahville 2013 in Toronto, specifically explored issues of human scale, generational weaving, cultural connections, materiality, recycling/reuse, and machine-form/natural-form. Current research and creative work continues to build on these themes. OSMOSIS, Andrea Swartz’s submission to the Beyond Environment Pavilions competition in Los Angeles, provoked questions of the traces of humanity’s touch on the environment and the ongoing dialogue between human-made and natural, something her photographic work has explored for a while. The consideration of these architectural and design issues is being extended into the broader community, trying to make the lessons (and joy) of designing and making meaningful to a broader swath of people.
At Ball State University Swartz has taught both undergraduate and graduate architectural design studios; electives/independent studies in photography, furniture making and materials; and the required introductory structures course for all architecture students. In structures (along with establishing the numerical foundation for future classes), linkages between structural tectonics and resonant architecture are established; this is done through analysis of precedents, design problem solving (build a bridge to support ‘x,’ design a column based on issues of slenderness ratio) and design process (student study models of structural system ideas of studio project). Andrea Swartz’s studio teaching emphasizes the essentialness of clear intent, realities of material properties, fabrication/assembly methods, human dimension and communication as a window into elegant design proposals at any scale. Students consistently engage small-scale design and design-build projects and material explorations to inform their broader design process.
Originally from Murrysville, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), Swartz attended Yale University where she received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Architecture professional degree (recipient of the Henry Adams Medal). Registered as an architect in both Indiana and Rhode Island, she has worked in architectural firms in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, Washington, Maine and Rhode Island. As a graduate student at Yale, Swartz was a teaching assistant in Philip Grausman’s perspective drawing class that focused on understanding drawing as part of the design process. She began teaching at The School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY (for one year), subsequently moving to the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University where she has taught in the Department of Architecture since August 1992.