Vinny Petrarca’s students begin the semester at Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork.
August 31, 2012 (Raleigh, NC) — Raleigh designer and Professor In Practice Vinny Petrarca began his second year of teaching at North Carolina State University’s College of Design by taking his students to Pennsylvania to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork, Fallingwater.
Petrarca, co-owner and principal of the design/build firm Tonic Design + Tonic Construction in Raleigh, teamed up with fellow design professors Sara Queen and Jay Smith and the director of graduate programs, David Hill, to take 60 graduate and fifth-year students to visit Fallingwater. For some of the students, it was a return trip. For many, it was the first time they’d ever seen a Wright house.
Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed Fallingwater for his clients, the Kaufmann family.  Built between 1936 and 1939, the house doesn’t appear to stand on solid ground, but instead stretches out over a 30-foot waterfall. It captured the nation’s imagination when it was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1938. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.
Along with seeing one of the finest examples of modern residential design in America, the students also studied a a parcel of land next to Fallingwater that is serving as the site for their semester-long project. They spent two days sketching and designing on site before returning to Raleigh.
A modernist designer himself, Vinny Petrarca is teaching the “ARC 500/50l Professional Studio,” the final studio for a Bachelor of Architecture degree. He describes it as “a comprehensive and integrative design experience — a transformational studio that exists between the foundation studios and forthcoming options and thesis-level studios.”
Since the ultimate goal of architecture is the complete building, with all its complexity and components, Petrarca’s studio project helps students understand, then demonstrate, their ability to address the full range of constraints, conditions, and issues typically encountered in an architectural project.
“ARC 500/501 simulates design processes that exist within professional offices, and asks students to integrate and elaborate on lessons from prior studios,” Petrarca said.
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