Last Friday was our annual Grand Critique. Three fourth-year students were chosen (one by their peers, one by the faculty and one by GPA) to exhibit their work from their first year to the present. Due to a memory card error, I don't have any images. But if I were to describe the work verbally I would say, “some was good, some was interesting, some was both and some was neither.”
Following the student presentations, the room became a forum of open discussion between faculty and student body to talk about the goods, bads and interestings of the architecture department (etc”¦) here at Woodbury. I didn't feel it appropriate for a first-year student to be too critical, as I am just getting acclimated and learning the ropes. I tend to speak my mind, so it was a little tough to bite my tongue a couple of times.
Therefore this becomes my forum. Some of the things that were discussed:
The Architecture Faculty. [I need to preface this with the fact that I have become aware that several faculty members read this blog and as I am typing it is something that I am aware of, and I was going to write this anyway. I just don't want this to seem overly ass-kissey, and I don't want to, and won't, censor myself because of this fact.] Anyhow, due to the small size of Woodbury (and the commitment of the instructors), you get all of the time that you could want from the faculty. I have read other blogs that speak of disinterested starchitect instructors. The faculty seem truly interested and invested in the work that we are doing. I am willing to bet that most of the faculty could see a model or a drawing and recognize the hand that created it. They are fantastic at motivating us and critically guiding us. There are a few that rank among the greatest teachers that I have ever had, though due to the ass-kissey clause stated above, they will remain nameless. As a first year student, I already feel as though they will become a lifelong mentor and I can imagine emailing them for advice in 20 years.
Now to kind of trample on the roses. The above paragraph is directed toward the Architecture Studio Faculty. The professors of GE classes don't score quite as high. This is a little disappointing as some classes that I have taken with incredibly interesting subject matter have been taught terribly and truly became a waste of my time. I end up just reading the book to learn what I wanted to learn. I would say that that is something that needs to be addressed and focused on.
The Studio Atmosphere. Along with the faculty, my peers are the main reason that I am content with my decision to come to Woodbury. I have found a handful of people who have become friends and when we work together, each one of us improves. This leads me into another item that came up at the forum:
Competition v. Sharing. This is a tough one. I don't think that either is the end-all, but I also don't think that they are mutually exclusive. I know that I will help and share ideas with (almost) anyone in Studio. But I am still competitive. Whenever I pin-up, I want my work to be the best on the wall, but I am still happy when (almost) anyone else gets a positive review. There are times when I have given away an idea that I wish I would have kept for myself, and I am sure that the reverse has occurred. Studiomate Brice completely saved me last time with an idea for my drawing that I was about to scrap. I suppose that I don't think that there is anything wrong with sharing or competition. I think that the idea of communal sharing may apply to Studio Happyland, but if you think that this applies to the “real world”, then you are in for quite a surprise.
Also brought up by a first-year student was that Studio is clique-y. I don't think that there is anything wrong with this. Certain people just have more in common with certain people. I think that is just normal. It doesn't mean that I dislike anyone outside of my close friends. I actually like (almost) everyone in my studio. Not to dismiss his opinion, but I think the point is moot.
The Library. This didn't come up in the discussion. It needs help. I have tried to take the initiative to tell them what books to order, but I am busy with Studio and not exactly clear who to speak to.
The Supply Store. The store improved remarkably this semester due to new management. It is nice not to have to drive all the way to sci-arc to buy our supplies. Kudos to the new manager, she has done a great job and is always receptive to suggestions. And cute.
The Woodshop. Good as always. Just clean up after yourself when I am working.
CNC. Next semester we are getting access to a CNC machine. Supposedly, we are buying one as soon as we have space for it. I will save critique on this until I see what happens, but I think that it is something that should be here ASAP.
The Woodbury Way. This is the topic that garnered the most time. The question was “Is there a Woodbury Way?” Responses varied. It was agreed that other Los Angeles architecture curriculums have a “way”. Our former Dean, who apparently shaped the curriculum said that it was a conscious decision not to be this way or that way. That there are aspects of all of the local “ways” that are valid and why not incorporate them into our own “way”. It gets a little cloudy but it seems that our “way” is not having a defined “way”. To be honest, I am still unsure whether it is a good thing or bad thing and if it is something we should try to attain. A “way” seems fleeting and may curtail the creativity of students who don't fit the “way”. Though it might also be necessary to have a “way” in order to put Woodbury on the map (another topic that came up, our lack of recognition.).
All things considered, I would recommend Woodbury to anyone planning to study architecture. Just maybe have your GE done first.
There are a few other things, but I am tired of typing and I think that about covers it. I have a model that isn't going to build itself by Friday.