Apr '04 - Aug '07
More answers to frequently asked questions... with a little late night twist (mostly uncensored because of a few beers and Zip after the KICKASS lecture presentation by plexus r+d. Shout out to Kevin, Jon and Rachel, you know the bright girl with the otherworldly, infectious laugh... you are truly one of a kind. Ya'll come back now, ya hear?)
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 10:30 PM
Subject: So Steve...
Steve... Let me introduce myself. Please see your blog: http://www.archinect.com/schoolblog/entry.php?id=6670_0_39_9_C109
A: Hey, thanks for commenting! I'm not sure if I saw this one as the blog interface doesn't let me backtrack to older posts and comments as well as I'd like it to.
Q: Now that I have inflated your ego some...I am considering going the route you went with SciArc. Could you elaborate on just what you did?
A: Ego = bad. Ogee = bad, too... Haha. EOM = ?. Route = Los Angeles Harbor College (113 units from 1988 to 2003), Thomas Edison State College (40 units NEW and 80 unit max from LAHC = 120 units for a BSAST in Architectural Design from 2002-2004). Applied one year on a whim, not accepted to UCLA's Design|Media Arts program just to learn the system. Last year (in Fall) I applied to UCLA Architecture and SCI-Arc for graduate school.
Q: 1. What kind of "online" bachelor degree did you get and whom from? Was it a pay your fee and basically get your degree type? Do you think SciArc would allow this again?
A: I'm a computer geek, so getting a degree non-traditionally and online while still maintaining a family and working from home was a good solution for me. Also, the cost was CHEAP (less than $6k) for two years. Sure I cut a few corners, but the education and academic rigor was fantastic. I'm a bit more mature than the average college student, and believe me, I don't miss fawning, immature girls and all night parties. Ok, well... I didn't miss them that much. Now, even though SCI-Arc is non-collegiate, there are still fawning girls and all night parties... So get here ASAP! J/K. SCI-Arc does allow for a 4-year degree in an architecture related field, especially if you have a solid background in the discipline. For instance, I have a lot of work experience, including: 3 years in a firm, 3 years for myself, 7 years TA'ing two AutoCAD classes, and 2.5 architecture books with my community college professor. This added up to 3 really good recommendation letters from my professor (40+ years teaching and said I was in the top 1% of his 10,000 students), a previous employer/architect, and a consultant/client of mine who is a professional engineer. Believe me, I worked every angle to get into SCI-Arc. Though, I only worked on my portfolio for 2 weeks. You should for sure spend at least 2 months on your portfolio and have a diverse amount of work in it. Mine was full of architecture, opened with photography, and had a winning 500 word essay, too. What I'm trying to say is... Set a goal and GO FOR IT! That's precisely why I am here.
Q: 2. What is the realistic cost of going to SciArc? I noticed the tuition is roughly $19,000 a year. So would that put the total of an M.Arch2 program at $47,500 + 5,000 (books materials) = $52,500?
A: The realistic cost of going to SCI-Arc is loss of family/significant other and sleep. You may also awaken a drinking habit and/or smoking habit. As far as monetary cost, $52,000 is a decent, ballpark figure. Books and materials may be less so just say an even $50,000.
Q: 3. What is the day to day schedule like for M.Arch2? Is each term a little less time demanding? I think I saw somewhere it is a 2-7pm MWF deal?
A: #1, the schedule can change at a moment's notice, depending on the faculty. For instance, I thought we were going to have Thursdays free this semester then we're informed we have a 7-10 pm seminar. Though, Diego Petrate's (from Gehry's office) HardTECH class is great and I'd show up any time to watch one of his slick PowerPoint presentations. You will have to cut your work load back to at LEAST 20 hours per week and work from home or via telecommuting to make it feasible. SCI-Arc's M.Arch2 program is not about standard practice -- It's about becoming a member of the cult of the avant-garde... Turning everything that is solid into air. I'm serious. As far as hours go: MWF 2-7 is for in studio pinups and crits, not really much of this time is for actual work. Though you can work as you wait for a crit or after a pinup, etc. A LOT of work is done on non-studio time, including weekends -- though, I devote my Saturdays to family. Also, you'll be reading at every spare moment, including when you take-the-kids-to-the-pool or drain-the-main-vein, yes I did say that. I have a laminated copy of Michaels Speaks' reader next to my toilet to replace all the garbage I've been fed on these home improvement / interior design shows. If you are reading this Michael, we truly appreciate your focus outside the classroom and non-focus inside... seriously, you are great. Though, a good portion of us are finding it a challenge to "hold ourselves together" (from budgeting time or leaving intellectually juvenile persuits behind). Graduate school is quite a eye opener, and finding time to make a mature argument about one's own work is proving to be a challenge -- albeit a welcome one! SIDENOTE: New black backgrounds w/ fading transitions, now that is HOT :)
Q: I say this because as mentioned I work full time and just get by. I am thinking I could maybe streamline a couple of days for the schedule above.
A: From what it sounds like, you should live vicariously through me and my studio mates. Seriously, this is a commitment not unlike getting married. At some point you are a bachelor (of architecture) if you have a degree in the field. A masters is about marrying into the discipline and focusing your attention on the current discourse, including embracing trajectories that you may not initially agree with. After all the brainwashing, you will be a new man and ready to cope with making nothing outta nothing. You'll look back at your time at SCI-Arc and wonder why you didn't go sooner to "explore the darkside". It's not about streamlining... It's about understanding the cult.
Q: Also, I have done some freelance home remodel plan work for friends and friends of friends, but it just proves too difficult doing that and working full time and pays so little. How are you pulling that off?
A: Funny you should ask... I'm not. I say yes WAY too much to this kinda crap work, don't do it! A few times a month I just let projects go and second guess whether I should have followed up another "cheap" lead. Nothing good will come out of being someone's CAD monkey. The only good thing to come out of doing these sidejobs is that it has pushed me to get my graduate degree, period. Chasing mom and pop clients or friends and family jobs is a sad way to make a living. This may be a self critique, but it feels SO good to verbalize it :) You can quote me on this one, "I am not interested in Storybook Cottage aesthetics!" Seriously, I recently met with clients that were friends of a junior high school mate. They seemed nice, had money, and wanted to do a traditional addition. The wife was the type that watched HGtv a lot and had a hodge-podge interior decorating style. One room was hunting trophies, yes animal heads hanging on the wall, the next room was Victorian doll house with doilies, and her custom bathroom was straight out of Las Vegas' Venetian. My initial proposal/thoughts were to go extreme hunting lodge and give them a new focus, then I said to myself, "What the hell am I don't this crap for?" The punch line of the story is this... She called me two weeks later, after a 10 day hunting vacation, and wanted my thoughts on "Storybook Cottages". I slowly faded the conversation away and subsequently that part of my life.
Q: Thanks in advance for your time and letting me pick your brain. Take care.
A: I do this as much for you blog readers as I do for myself. Putting my brain on a platter for the world is mildly therapeutic. Incidentally, I've been trying to be as candid as possible so everyone understands what a lot of us are going to SCI-Arc for, especially those of us that have worked in the "real world". The key word is criticality.
** Side note to everyone at SCI-Arc and outside of SCI-Arc. The acronym for SCI-Arc is SCI-Arc... Not sci-arc, Sci-arc, Sci-ARC, sci-ARC, sci-Arc, Sci-Arc or SCI-ARC. Again, it is SCI-Arc (Southern California Institure of Architecture) SCI-Arc :) Being German has its disadvantages, precision can be a bad habit. *cough* SCI-Arc *grin*