SCI-Arc F.A.Q. for Newbies and Shoobies
Answers to a few questions from a prospective student's email...
Q: I discovered Archinect a few months ago, and I have to say that your posts so far have been some of the most informative, and entertaining!! Being someone looking for the perfect MArch program, getting past the school websites and campus tours is essential, and the blogs at least provide a resource for further inquiry.
A: Thank you for making contact :) Your journey to find a perfect M.Arch program (and B.Arch for that matter) is one step closer! I do enjoy making a small contribution to the history of SCI-Arc; making the blog informative and entertaining is my number one goal. To be honest, blogging experiences at school has its downside, too. Some people in school don't think it's cool and maybe they don't like my style, but you know what, as Hernan would say, "I... am not interested in them". Even my studio design partner took offense to me posting our stuff for the world to see. Actually, it has worked out for the best; though now, I have to do the work of two people. Luckily, I'm pretty efficient (maybe that's the German in me). The end result is I get to push a critical trajectory in studio way further than I expected. The bad part about that is if I go too far off the deep end, I start to lose oxygen and my fire flickers. The upside of a partner is they can help to refine your argument; being partner-free means seeking out peer advice more often.
Q: You're probably bombarded with questions from prospective students drooling to be a part of Sci-Arc... so I'll add to the pile.
A: I welcome any and all inquiries about SCI-Arc; though, I am just one student of about 500. Some of what I may comment on is pure opinion and not that of any other student, instructor, administrator, or staff. You gotta love legal disclaimers, not that I'm bound by any -- uh... yet.
Q: I am looking for a program which pushes the traditional boundaries and limits of architecture, both in theory and practice - with an emphasis on digital technology; I've spent years leaning over a drafting table and I'm not really interested in learning new techniques with markers.
A: From what I can gather, EVERY program at SCI-Arc pushes the traditional boundaries and limits of architecture. Every studio here has remarkable pinups with very few projects lacking visual appeal; I say visual because I have not had too much time to sit down and hear their arguments. I can only comment on the crits I've sat in on, and the academic prowess of the thesis students here is a good indication that the future of architecture will continue to have blurred boundaries. We all have tight schedules and wallets, but the community aspect of studio and the non-conventional school culture is great.
Q: I also don't want a program which lives in an academic bubble, since I don't wish to teach as a profession (right now). I've been working professionally (both in an architecture firm full-time and freelance, on the side - gotta love health insurance), so I'm coming in to school with some experience and my goal is to really "find myself" (or "create myself" as some would say) and I plan to continue a professional career afterwards.
A: Last night, I left studio at midnight -- after being the first one in at 7:00 am because I left some work to do for a 10:00 am Visual Studies seminar. Having spent the whole day and half the night "finding myself", just about everything at SCI-Arc makes me get that adventurously warm tingle up my spine. You know, the tingle that makes your mind race so you can't sleep, or the one that you feel when you get deja-vu like you are supposed to be in a certain place at a certain time. I have to say the midnight indoor soccer in the main space last night was kickass. I hope they continue and maybe set up an all school mini-league, maybe even against other design schools (UCLA, USC, Woodbury, Otis, Art Center) -- this reminds me of the "thesis-off" where the entire school competed against the thesis students in events like: "Yodel-off", "Spelling Bee", "Dance Off", "Maya Off", "Video Game Off", "Beer Shotgun" (Geo!), "Rap Off", "Rump Shake", and many more. That was the best Fridays-at-Five EVER!
Q: I'm curious if Sci-Arc's program involves students in design-build projects or opportunities to work with faculty or other professionals.
A: THE reason to come to SCI-Arc is design-build. Whether your interests are digital or analog, our shop facilities are kick-ass. Some really amazing stuff comes out of the shops -- both student and faculty work (which a good portion of the time is qualitatively indistinguishable). As you may know, I am training at the CNC shop to become one of the assistants. A good portion of us have to work outside of school; federal work study and paid school jobs are a good way to immerse yourself in everything from web design to supply store clerking. Also, just about every month there are shows, exhibits, or outreaches to work on where you will have direct involvement with SCI-Arc's faculty, staff, and visiting design professionals. The important part is to use volunteer experience to mingle and let your organization, hard work, and design talent (which most of the time is called upon) show through. If you are interested, contact Wendy Heldmann in the Public Programs department -- she's great and works really hard to make our school publicly recognized.
Q: I'm going to be traveling out to both San Fran and LA (my first time out to the west coast), I'll be in LA from 10/31 - 11/4 and I'm planning a visit to Sci-Arc, I'd love to hear back from you - maybe you can recommend a specific day when reviews might be happening, a specific person to talk to, etc. Any information would help me greatly.
A: You are welcome to call the school to setup a "walk-through", though, I'm not sure how far in advance these need to be scheduled. Typically, studios here are MWF from 2-7pm and your best best for sitting in on a pin-up is to just be here during those times. Also, midterms should be near the dates you've mentioned so a lot of work might possibly be displayed. Stop by the 2GAX studio and ask for Steve; if I'm not too busy, I'd be happy to field more questions or concerns -- that goes for all blog readers.