Tips Tuesday: Field Trip to Autodesk in San Francisco
April 3rd 2012
Recently, World Savvy’s Media & Arts Program took over thirty students from Hayward’s Impact Academy of Arts & Technology on a free-of-charge field trip to the Autodesk Gallery in downtown San Francisco. Autodesk is a software company primarily known for the renowned design platform AutoCAD. Their gallery showcases the most innovative architecture and design work of Autodesk’s clients as well as Autodesk’s impact on engineering, digital animation, special effects, and cinema. As a field trip location, Autodesk could not be more inspiring for learners of every age interested in the pinnacle of innovation and sustainable design--green buildings, 3D printing technology, virtual simulation, LEGO sculpture, and art. The gallery is an eyeful and Autodesk spares no expense in presenting their collaboration with clients to create an atmosphere of cutting-edge wonder right at your finger tips. The gallery is filled with floor to ceiling digital projections, interactive design interfaces, elaborate displays of design evolution, and intricate 3D models of energy saving and energy producing buildings.
Impact’s students were there primarily to focus on green building design as part of their research for the Global Youth Media and Arts Festival and we had developed a field trip that included and a Downtown Architecture Walk and post-gallery visit design challenge at the nearby Vaillancourt Fountain. Unfortunately some unexpected rain required that we revise our field trip and Autodesk was incredibly accommodating and we were able to take over one of their conference rooms for the duration of our visit.
The highlight creative activity of the field trip translated surprisingly well indoors and involved the students working in groups of 4-5 throughout the gallery. Each group of students was given a large sheet of clear acrylic (Plexiglas) and several clear sheets of transparent plastic. We then prompted each student to select something compelling in the gallery that inspired their own design imaginations and to trace it in detail using the clear acrylic, their own clear transparencies, and some dry erase markers. This activity accomplished several learning goals and could be customized for any variety of field trips.
· Students engaged with the gallery’s eye-popping displays critically as participants and future designers rather than consumers.
· Students took the time to study at least one design object in tremendous detail, recreating retracing the lines of the original designer and studying the displays thoroughly.
· Students worked cooperatively together to manage their materials which in turn facilitated thoughtful dialogue throughout the gallery about their particular reasoning and choices for tracing.
· Once their task was complete, students had an image and an experience that they would then take back to their classrooms to re-design, imbuing it with their own style and design vocabulary.
The reflection and discussion that followed were some of the most impressive I have heard. While the students were certainly impressed by the gallery, they also demonstrated a surprising amount of push-back against certain notions of futurity that are widespread throughout the gallery where everything seems super shiny and new and therefore limited in their connection to history and memory. Students expressed sophisticated concern about the impact of this “newness” on collective memory, identity and community and this concern was expressed in many of their own personal design preferences that explored hybrid combinations of green innovation with classic and familiar styles.
The Autodesk Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday from 12-5pm with a guided tour from 12:30-1:30 pm. Contact Julia Papapietro, Corporate Events Specialist to plan a field trip for your students.