What Did I Learn in Architecture School?

The above image is from Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

As a student, I often felt a bit out of sorts.  Not to mean that I didn’t get along with others or that I didn’t fit in, but that the talents I may have had never seemed to translate into the projects at hand.  I tended to dwell on the details and had trouble with the broad concepts of my architectural designs and it was also always unclear to me what I needed to have for reviews to get my ideas across.  Studio, in my experience, was always a sprint to the deadline, not a sprint to the finish.  I always ended up missing that one section detail, or that one diagram, or that one interior elevation that would have explained my project more clearly to the jurors.  I never felt finished with a project, and that frustrated me to no end.

In professional practice, a finished product is what a client is looking for and that is what I require my students to consider when working on a project. Obviously teaching design-build is well suited for this type of requirement in a studio, and understandably impossible for larger scale design studio projects, but it seems to me to be an experience every student must have, at least once, before entering the profession.  Words don’t express how it feels to design it, build it, and then to step back and appreciate it.

This semester I have unintentionally added another fold to the studio that echos that of an actual architecture office, managing multiple jobs at once.  Students do get some preparation in this regard in school just by balancing their different classes, but it is rare to manage two projects at the same time in one studio.  We are about to finish our first project in less than a week, but started design development on our second project last Friday.  It’s typical in an architecture office to have one or more projects in construction administration while while having several others in some phase of construction documents, while still having others in design development.  When I explained this schedule to the students at the beginning of the semester I don’t think any of them comprehended what they were signing on for, but when you step back for a minute and compare our situation to that of an actual architecture office, it’s not that different.

This week will be a busy one for the students of Studio V.  This Friday the 8th they will have a critique of their finished/installed information walls in Marion Square and a review of three proposed schemes for the second project in Cannon Park.  Luckily for them they will have a few days off after the reviews for Fall Break to rest up.

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