Leading a Partnership Studio (Graduate Architecture)

Working with a partner as part of a studio is an incredible opportunity to impact organizations and communities while providing unique opportunities for student learning. This document outlines the expectations for faculty working in the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design with partners.

Download Blue Page: Leading a Partnership Studio (Graduate Architecture)

Additional Resources
Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal


Before you begin your studio, be sure you know the scope of your relationship and the expectations for the relationship.

  • Ask questions about how this partnership began. Understand the relationships that led to this project, and the history of partnership with this organization.
  • Understand the expectations for your involvement before, during, and after the studio. Are you expected to continue this relationship? Do you need to be part of the scoping? To what extent?
  • These projects are meant to be mutually beneficial, bringing value to both the students and the partner. Think about what the partner is investing, and what outcomes would bring value for them.
  • Work with the Office for Socially Engaged Practice to develop a Curriculum Collaboration Project Proposal that outline your expected outcomes, as well as the needs of your partner.
  • Plan for kick off conversations before students are involved, and continue these conversations after your course begins. Think about the tone you’d like to set, and what kind of conversation you’d like to facilitate. You could have a work session, a presentation, an interview, a tour, or other forms of interaction. Contact the Office for Socially Engaged Practice for support.

Clear, professional, and timely communication is essential to successful partnerships.

  • Provide your partner with your preferred methods of communication, as well as back-up methods. Your partner can always contact Matthew Bernstine if they have an urgent question.
  • Establish a timeline and expectations about communication at the start of the project. Scheduling regular times to check in, and having partners block their calendar for important dates can help make the semester go smoothly.
  • Always follow up conversations with written documentation of decisions and deadlines (preferably via email). Copy the Office for Socially Engaged Practice and your department chair so everyone is informed of the process.


Relationships with partners go beyond your individual initiative. To keep everyone in the loop, copy your department chair and the Office for Socially Engaged Practice on all correspondence with your partner.


Students are at the heart of community-engaged courses. Prepare them for connecting with the partner.

  • Remind students that they are acting in a professional capacity, representing WashU, the Sam Fox School, and the profession of architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture.
  • The Office for Socially Engaged Practice offers workshops for students on interacting directly with community partners, including site visits, representation, and communication.
  • Set expectations about communication with students. If they will be directly contacting a partner, discuss appropriate tone and content. Prepare them for presentations and in-person interactions by discussing presentation skills.


Storage is tight at the Sam Fox School. If your project may have boards, models, or materials, discuss storage with Leland Orvis (orvis@wustl.edu) as soon as possible.


When you work with a partner through the Sam Fox School, you are representing yourself and the program.

  • Major decisions related to the partnership and the project must be discussed with your department chair and the Sam Fox School administration. Careful consideration must be given to how the needs of faculty, partners, institution, and students are balanced.
  • Timelines are crucial. Decisions related to your project can impact other relationships; keep everyone informed by always including your department chair and the Office for Socially Engaged Practice on communications.
  • Whenever you or the partner shares information about the project, the program and the School must be credited. Be sure to reference the full name: Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis. Contact Sam Fox School Communications for more information.
  • Document your project! Photos, student work, written documentation, and other materials can be useful to share the story about your studio. Review the Communications Blue Page for more information.