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SCI-Arc (Tim)

 

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Sep '06 - Aug '08

 
  • the end of thesis?



    as some of you may know, i am in my graduate thesis semester and this week marks the beginning of the final stretch for our final presentations which will take place in a little over a month. i'm a little freaked-out, but i figure i would offer up a discussion that may help divert some of the anxiety...or maybe i'm just procrastinating.

    the discussion relates to some issues brought up by sylvia lavin, professor and former chair at UCLA, during her recent visit and talk with thesis students here at SCI-Arc. i would describe the talk as being either very poignant commentary on the current state of architecture and architecture education OR the most demoralizing pep-talk i've ever been a part of. either way, i thought the issues that were brought up warrant discussion here.

    her main argument was (and i'm paraphrasing) that within the current state of the profession today, given its highly collaborative an non-authoritative nature, there is no longer any relevance for personal theses. she likened the thesis student to an american tourist who expects everyone to speak english wherever they go, which may have been acceptable in the recent past, but today people need to "speak the fucking language", meaning the more and more that a student delves into the highly-nuanced, bottomless abyss that is thesis, the more and more they lose their ability to communicate with the outside world and the profession at large, thus losing their relevance in discourse overall.

    her secondary critique related to matters of method, or in other words, too often she has seen that during thesis presentations, the comment "it's a good project, but there is not really a thesis." comes up, leaving both the student and the jury in a state of confusion and frustration. i am not exactly sure what she meant by this comment. does it mean students today lack the skills and discipline needed to formulate a poignant argument, or is the world no longer interested in what these arguments have to say?

    before i get into my response, i should point out that SCI-Arc is one of the few remaining graduate schools (Princeton and Harvard are the only other two i know of) that still require a final thesis semester. most schools either offer it as an option or have phased it out all together. it should also be noted that sylvia was responsible for ending thesis at UCLA during her time as chair, and even our own thesis coordinator, hernan, is a proponent of ending thesis as well (which is why he was given the position of thesis coordinator).

    my conclusion is that although much of what sylvia says is proving to be true...

    1. thesis is an inescapable blackhole that consumes your life and everything around it...check

    2. thesis causes a disconnect and inhibits our ability to communicate with the world around us (just watch me in social settings with non-architects)...check

    3. formulating a thesis that is relevant in this day in age is an extremely daunting, and perhaps impossible task...check

    ...i still believe that it is something that every architecture student should experience, and this is not because i am a sadist, but because i think it is an important aspect of our profession, that is, the highly personal and nuanced expression of what you, the architect, feel is important in the world, and although this view may not ever be correct, i still feel that act of expression is what drives a designer.

    i can give an example in the real world based off my own experience where i found myself in a design meeting at an office where although it would be considered a collaborative process, the vibe of the meeting was highly contentious, and it was often the most outspoken and passionate people (with the work to back it up) who had their ideas pushed through in the project. it's not to say it was because these people were geniuses, but because they had the strength, rigor, and balls to communicate their personal ideas in the best way possible, no matter how absurd.

    i think this also belongs in the broader discussion that orhan had with peter cook, where mr. cook highlighted the fact that it is the individual and sometimes strange student that the education system should cater to, and not the student that merely copies the instructor's interest, no matter how skilled they are at it, because this just perpetuates a system in which architecture becomes highly predictable and often disposable.

    that said, i think thesis should continue on...




  • digital pleistocene: sanford kwinter at SCI-Arc

    there is yet to be any mention of chreods (i feel it's coming soon), but i found the introduction to this seminar course no less interesting. pleistocene describes the period during which humans evolved into their current form, and kwinter suggests that a return to understanding this primal...


  • release the hounds!

    i've been reluctant to post any thesis related material on this blog because post like these are so often thrashed for being only a means to solicit research help...please know that this is not one of those post. i think my research agenda is in place (as well as my advisors: juan azulay and tulay...


  • Fogbank Day 2: Wendover Army Air Field

    Wendover Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base in Utah. During World War II, it was a training base for B-17 and B-24 bomber crews before being deployed to the European and Pacific Theaters. Also, it was the training site of the 509th Composite Group, the B-29 unit which dropped...


  • Fogbank Day 1.5: Sun Tunnels

    An artwork by Nancy Holt, completed in 1976, consisting of four large concrete tubes, laid out in the desert in an open X configuration. The nine foot diameter, 18 foot long "tunnels" are pierced by holes of varying size, that correspond with the pattern of selected celestial constellations. There...


  • Fogbank Day 1: NASA & Spiral Jetty

    i'm out of breath and out of commentary, but hopefully the images will speak for themselves...The Spiral Jetty, considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson, is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970. Built of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water on the...


  • SCI-Arc Spring 2008 Lecture Series

    I almost forgot... 01.16.08 | Jeffrey Kipnis: *@$#*!#!! 01.23.08 | Dan the Automator 01.30.08 | Peter Walker: Before the Memorial 02.06.08 | Manuel DeLanda: The New Materialism and the Mind 02.13.08 | Edward Eigen: A Crash Course in History 02.20.08 | Neil Spiller: Communicating Vessels 02.27.08 |...


  • scattered, smothered, covered and UNpacked

    somewhere within this collection of books lies a compelling and well articulated thesis argument just waiting to be extracted (now if i only knew where to begin looking). at this stage so much is left to faith, and it's easy to get lost, or at least misdirected, from the path of poignant...


  • fall semester courses (for now)

    Drop day is still in front of me, but for now the semester lineup looks like this: 1. Studio: X-Lab Vertical Studio: Hernan Diaz-Alanso 2. Theory: Philosophy of Technology: Wes Jones 3. Professional Practice: Project Management: Burcin Bercerik 4. Theory: Revenge of the Thing: Objects as Media...


  • graduate thesis presentations

    This is an open invite for all to please join us for the SCI-Arc Graduate Thesis presentations on September 15 + 16, 2007 Sept. 15 Saturday 9am–12:30pm 2pm–5:30pm Sept. 16 Sunday 10am–1:30pm Thesis projects will be on view throughout the school from September 15&ndash...


  • SCI-Arc Fall 2007 Lecture Series

    I'm pretty hyped about the lecture series this fall. They all promise to be very relevant and exciting discussions...and what's even more exciting for me is that i may actually have time to attend them! Good work by the lecture organizers. All lectures begin @ 7pm and are open to the public. more...


  • coachella: temporary tent structure

    I get the phone call from juan azulay around midnight on a sunday to come help out for a few days with some kind of temporary tent structure for the coachella festival. i didn't know what to expect at all, and was only told that lodging and accomodations would be provided and people who helped out...



  • final review

    as sad as it may sound, i'm going through a bit of studio withdraw right now as i upload these images from our final review. the delerium has come to a sudden halt, and i am left to wonder what to do with all this free time... the presentations went well for us. there was high praise for our...


  • open invite: final review

    For any prosepective students or anyone with interest in the MArch II Program at SCI-Arc SCI_Arc Main Space 2GBX Final Review | 18 April 2007 1:00 - 6:00pm My group is set to present around 4:00-4:30 Jurors include: Hernan Diaz-Alanso David Erdman Neil Denari Ramiro Diaz-Granados Sulan Kolatan...


  • CATIA seminar: "system to building: optimization, performance implementation"

    assignment 01: re-parameterizations: a parametric case & design exploration "the purpose of the exercise is to research a given building envelope (ONL cockpit) to tease out the parameters of design and design thought. the exercise will provide a background in parametric design thinking and to...


  • midterm: robust morphologies and emergent tectonics: a mixed-use tower for MOMA

    this semester we are in groups of three, meaning they expect the output of nine. each group is asked to start with one of four templates: 1. structure 2. membrane 3. circulation/core 4. cellular aggregation our project started with an analysis of circulation systems, described here as a network of...


  • NYC, bitches

    admittingly, my blog has been a bit photo heavy as of late. this is to mask the lack of written insight. although i very much enjoy writing, some things just have to give. maybe the lack of time. maybe the lack of motivation. probably both. this past weekend in pictures:planes, trains, and closed...


  • new camera, typical day...


  • it's on

    after a little shifting, dancing, and finagling, the next semester's line up looks like this: 1. Studio "Infrastructural Architecture": Peter Testa 2. Theory "Design Intelligence": Michael Speaks 3. Research Seminar "Free Form Fabrication": Peter Testa 4. CATIA/Parametrics seminar: David Gerber...


  • SCI-Arc top 10

    inspired by the archinect post in the forum, here is my SCI-Arc top 10 must have/thank/see/do/eat list. 10. mytunes redux - free downloadable software that allows you to jack a person's entire itunes collection in a matter of minutes...err ummm, i mean that's what i've heard. 9. blossom...


  • process

    love, 2GAX


  • midterm: exotic morphologies and porous bodies

    midterms have come and gone. overall it went well for my partner and i. no severe criticism from the jury, and no comments that weren't forseen, but still plenty of room for improvement. more importatnly, however, i wanted to share some of the discussion/criticism that our studio got as a whole...


  • a face with the name

    I often get asked who's teaching at SCI-Arc these days, so I compiled these images to give some faces to the names. I think its interesting that it is always the case for people of the arts to never smile in their pictures e.g. band members, philosophers, and in this case, architects. does it...


  • Live Free or Die Hard

    i found this posted on my door today. its the 3rd notice of its kind since i moved in 2 months ago (prior was a rap video and car commercial). word has it, bruce willis will be in the neighborhood tomorrow and already his presence is causing a commotion. the filming of this movie will cause the...


  • a touch of the sublime

    Mont Blanc (1999?). picture taken during a spring break trip in college when life gets muddled in the confines of long hours in concrete boxes, i look to pictures like these for inspiration. oh yeah, the bike that i wrote about earlier was stolen last night :( we had a good run while it lasted.


  • Studio Work - Indeterminate Architectures

    This is a sample of the work I have been doing for 2GAX studio (2.5 year grad). The result is not an architectural solution per se, but is an exercise to develop formal techniques to be applied towards a design brief in the next phase. we dealt mostly with issues of: 1. morphology: body...


  • coincidence

    so this entry is not architecture related, but i thought since there has already been discussion of mistaken identity and nobel prizes today (orhan wins), i thought i'd share a bit of coincidence with you. meet Quang Do, candidate for the nobel peace prize from BBC news:Thich Quang Do is the...


  • balance

    For the architecture student, finding that elusive balance between school life and life outside can be quite a challenge. What I've discovered is that this notion of “balance” doesn't just mean having one life to counterbalance the other as a matter of convenience, but actually...


  • silence is golden

    a few shots of the library during my first work-study shift relax, reflect, repeat. and some pictures of exibit posters from yesteryear (in no particular order)...


  • La Jetee

    Fall 2008 Thesis Presentation: a Foretelling... Once again, the main hall at SCI-Arc, in the middle of this pre-semester Sunday afternoon where he could not stay, he thought in a confused way that the new student he had been was due to be there too, watching the presentations. But first of all he...


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