Surface Summer School

Marc Miller to Students: Consider the Long Tail Impact of Your Projects

"Architecture becomes something that is part of the future," he said, challenging students to think about how people interact with spaces socially, culturally, and politically.

The assistant professor at Penn State spoke to the students at Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Surface Summer School lecture series. The students are in the midst of a competition to design a mobile testing unit for COVID-19.

Takeaways: He compelled the students to think about the cultural value that communities assign objects. “Potential for them to be very valuable artifacts of a short time or be very valuable pieces of social fabric for a much longer time to the point they become permanent,” he said. “Imaginative components are important in developing a relationship with the people around them and constructing memories not just around the piece of architecture but around the place in general.” The narrative, he emphasized, is essential to how the testing units will interact with people over the long term, especially if they become neglected and ultimately serve as memorials down the road. He reminded students that the demographic makeup of people today doesn’t reflect the demographic speculations of 30 years from now. “Your architecture doesn’t have to be static,” he said. “Tell stories to people in the future.”     

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