A Balancing Act

I’d say a 50/50 ratio. This past week we’ve been alternating from working at the shop and at the site. That is, we have been spending half of our time building the components of the pavilion in the shop and half of our time prepping the site for construction. The idea is that by performing these tasks in tandem, the site, once completed, will be ready for our pre-fabricated building parts, which we will have built simultaneously. At that point, the pavilion will take physical form, on its designated site in West Ashley.

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In the mean time, it’s been a kind of balancing act. The five of us have been learning  all kinds of new skill sets in the process, both at the site and at the shop. When I moved to Charleston in August, I had little idea I’d be shoveling concrete or building columns in November. It’s interesting to me that the traditional idea of “studio” – with its notion of a classroom and desk critiques – has been completely thrown out the window. “Studio” has become a very flexible word. We are constantly learning new things, whether it is outside prepping the field for construction or in a wood shop assembling wall panels. The idea of “leaving the classroom in order to learn” has become normal for us.

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I know I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we’ve grown so much as architecture (or landscape architecture) students this semester. The five of us are like sponges, eagerly absorbing all kinds of new and vital information about our chosen profession that we could never have learned in a classroom. As we balance our time between site prep and pre-fabrication, we are acquiring different knowledge right and left. The word “architecture” is gaining all these new facets of meaning, as we learn what it actually takes to build a building.  Outside or inside, at the site or at the shop, architecture is jumping from the books and into reality.

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