c u b e

William Galloway and Patrick Doan


Initially conceived as a 12’ × 12’ × 12’ concrete cube, the c u b e project emerged as a way to situate and support design|build as an important and viable component within the education of the architect, providing a place and opportunity for students to be directly engaged with the constructive aspects of architecture; to inhabit their work through the construction site. The project evolved over a period of five years, involved approximately 200 students, eight faculty members, and culminated as a student’s master’s thesis. The cube stands 13’-8” × 13’-8” × 13’-8”, encloses a 96 sq. ft. room, and is composed of three cast-in-place concrete walls each formed to yield unique characteristics. Within these concrete walls, four wood and steel fixtures are installed — a table, a door, a ceiling, and a screen.


From a pedagogical point-of-view, this work explores the question of what kinds of limits might be necessary and appropriate for design|build projects involving students of architecture. Project constraints included plan configuration, general building shape, material, and overall dimension. Students were free to focus on the way the form was articulated and to determine how the project would be built, considering to what degree the built consequence might tell the story of its construction. Important was the opportunity for students to learn from the act of building and for the knowledge acquired to then inform their design decisions. An iterative cycle between drawing and building was established. The final result was never entirely predetermined. As the work developed, students who became subsequently involved in the effort were constrained only by what the previous cohort(s) of students had actually physically completed, with one student in the group ultimately accepting full responsibility for the project as his master’s thesis. While the c u b e at this point is no longer a construction site, it has become a classroom for architectural students to study, inhabit, measure, and draw; taking on a new life within the school.




William Galloway has been a member of the faculty since 1988. He has received the College’s University Certificate of Teaching Excellence twice (1995 & 2005), and the School’s J. Stoeckel Design Lab Teaching Excellence Award (2015). In 1992, along with Jack Davis and Bob Schubert, Galloway received an Award for Excellence in Architecture from the VSAIA for the design of the college’s Research and Demonstration Facility. From 1998 to 2003, he chaired the Graduate Architecture Program. He served as Director of the School of Architecture + Design from 2011 to 2014. His current teaching and research focuses on building materials and construction methods and on the 19th century roots of 20th century approaches to architectural education.

Patrick Doan is an architect and Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. His work focuses on the poetics of construction as it relates to the measure and play of detail and craft in the making of buildings. His most recent project, Construction Curtains, was included in the October 2013 gallery exhibition entitled CURTAINS at the Mebane Gallery on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas.  Patrick’s other research interests focus on the architectural work of Donald Judd and Louis Kahn in Texas. In November he presented Kahn in Texas at Architecture Exchange East in Richmond, Virginia discussing Kahn’s work, influence, and legacy in Texas.