SI 658 001 WN 2020

SI 658 001 WN 2020


Information architecture isn't just graphics; it's about how to choose the right way to present information and how to help people navigate through it. It's a way of thinking. It's how you go about something. It's a whole way of life in which the aim is not to make something look good but to make it be good.


 A house should have eyes and ears and arms and a heart, and it should talk to you when you're in it.


This course provides hands-on experience with the evaluation and design of information structures to support a complex product/service ecosystem.

Required Text

Bloomer, Kent C, Charles W. Moore, and Robert J. Yudell. Body, Memory, and Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Print.

Bachelard, Gaston, and Maria Jolas. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. Print.

Course Description

In the class this term, we’ll learn about the spatiality of meaning and the placefulness of experiences by conducting individual analyses of physical and digital environments, and then solving an info/spatial problem cooperatively.  Along the way we'll ask some questions:

  • Do the normative criteria used to evaluate architecture in the built environment work on products and services made of information?
  • What is the material of UX design? 
  • How much or little of the designer's selfhood should be present in the processes and products industry pays them for?
  • What should architects and designers do with the awareness (once they get it) of biases and power structures reified in the products and processes they make? 

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Use info-architectural methods to identify the objects and describe the relationships in a complex information ecology;
  • Conceive and construct models at varying levels of abstraction in order to;
  • Understand how the representation and organization of information affects meaning; and
  • Evaluate structural design options through comparison.

Focus This Semester

Our focus in Winter 2020 is on something Gaston Bachelard calls "the poetics of space." We'll apply Bachelard's methodology of topo-analysis to better understand the spatiality of meaning in augmented and virtual space by first trying to understand experiences of wellbeing in the built environment.


Each student will conduct topo-analysis of a place they know, where the experience of wellbeing is a function of architecture, and produce a brief report detailing the phenomenological situation that produces it.

Each student will also conduct an info/spatial critique of a digital product or service they know, and produce a brief report detailing the poetics of the space, and the embodied responses that correlate with the spatial effects identified in the analysis.

Finally, students will work in groups to produce a poster describing their cooperative solution to a given info/spatial problem.  A poster session will be held on the 14th week of the course, in lieu of a final exam.

Office Hours

Use this link to sign up for Office Hours with Mike, or end-of-class check-ins with Dan.

Mike (GSI). If you cannot attend the following days/times, please email Mike ( to schedule an alternate day/time.

Mike's BlueJeans session:

  • Mondays after class, 3:30-5:00pm.
  • Wednesday morning, 10-11am.

Dan (Instructor) lives in Grand Rapids. You can schedule virtual (Zoom) office hours with him through email (

Dan's Zoom session:

Dan's Zoom meeting ID: 549 247 3351


Course Summary:

Date Details Due
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