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Harvard GSD Career Discovery Program

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    Week 2 (catching up on the first two weeks)

    Evan Sharp Jul 5 '05 12

    Friday (the end of week 2) was our first real, big critique. Long day, but interesting...its funny that the only way most of us students (definitely including me) know how to talk about what we're doing is in some hackneyed dialogue of form/function BS, a deceptively simple interaction that none of us really understand...which makes all of our explanation and justification for our projects seem (justifiably?) like empty pretension. My project got (pretty fairly!) hacked apart...oh well, I didn't think it was that good either...:(

    There was one guy who was openly and knowingly trying to bullshit the instructors and get away with it...didn't work. As Ali (my instructor) said, “Its gone limp already...”...ha!

    Our project was to design a new...design?...for an overpass on Harvard Yard. I need pictures. Hopefully I'll get that worked out soon.

    Random thoughts on the first two weeks:

    1. The TIME-line of this program is crazy. 3 days to develop a concept and create a finished product for critique? gahhh....but at least it keeps us in the studio working...

    Seriously. Not only do we not have any experience with the technical skills needed to create models, draft plans, or place our ideas into context, we also have no library of shapes and forms from which to draw. It seems to me that the creation and maintenance of such a library is maybe basic to the practice of architecture, maybe?, right?, no? So I guess that's part of what we're doing now.

    2. We're doing projects that seem like bullshit (though they aren't), because we've never learned how to approach them.

    Its hard to be open to new ways of thinking. To me coming into the program architecture consisted of boxes and ornamentation. Well, maybe not literally, but kind of...hahaha....sob

    I think you seriously have to unlearn some things before you can really take what we're doing seriously.

    3. There is also a disconnect, at least for me, between the realities of the materials we work with and the practicalities of how a structure would look in the real world that hinders my ability to totally grasp what I'm doing. You can only manipulate paper strips in so many ways...

    But I guess that's one of the things you have to master, getting your skills honed to the point where you can freely connect the ideas in your head with those that you are representing visually, so that you can freely explore your ideas unbounded by all the technical worries...

    Speaking of ideas, its really hard learning which to consider and which not...and its really frustrating that this doesn't come naturally. I mean, all of the instructors at this program have seen some many thousands of projects, that to them its pretty obvious what's interesting and what's boring...but to us, its all new.

    4. What is the connection between 2D design and architecture? Do they interact at all???

    And speaking of 2D design, I still have difficulty totally understanding modern design. Not to be anachronistic, but in a small way I miss the grand metaphysical connections between architecture and other facets of life that have often characterized architectural movements (I did just read Otto von Simpson this spring...). Honestly, I don't even know what I'm talking about at all, but I do know from experience that exploring aesthetics for their own sake can become a very selfish endeavor. And also, I have no idea what I'm talking about at all, so I'll stop there.

    5. Critiques are important to evaluate our work, but they serve just as well as a measure of our egos...

    Applying justification for a job post-completion doesn't usually work...which is why I usually end up not saying anything about my project :(

    Speaking of critique though, I do wish sometimes that the students would get encouraged to add their thoughts in a more structured form. I think each critique should begin with the instructors asking each student, “What do you like about your project?”, and also “What don't you like”. I don't know, it just gets frustrating when they say something negative about your design that you already realized coming in...and its also boring sitting there all day with nothing to do but listen. But, then again compared to the instructors, my comments would be pretty silly, so no big deal.

     

     
    • 12 Comments

    • swisscardlite
      Jul 5, 05 11:35 pm

      This is a classic example of ignorance. I would try to be more eloquent with this...but it wouldn't get to the point sufficiently...so in short: suck it up! You are right about one thing...that you have not had any previous experience of this type, but that's what you're there to gain isn't it? It's your own fault that you have not pursued any previous architecture-related experiences in your life. Critiques are an integral part of any learning process, if you can't take the fact that you make mistakes, then personally I don't think you should be there in the first place. And the teachers do ask what you think about your projects, you just have to listen long enough to tune out your own ego which just can't accept the fact that you're not perfect and superior to everyone else...and if you think that I don't know what I'm talking about...well I'm taking a summer college course for architecture at
      Cornell right now.

      -Jerry (not Justin)

      Marlin
      Jul 6, 05 12:31 am

      You're right where youre supposed to be. Keep your head up. You're all good.

      ~marlin watson

      David Zeibin
      Jul 6, 05 2:03 am

      Wow, thanks for the wonderfully inspirational comments, Jerry. I'm sure Evan will find your input most helpful.

      Architecture school is killer. Sure, some people can't hack it; every program loses its fair share of people as the year wears on. But it's attitudes like yours ("suck it up") that make it that much more unbearable.

      I spent a lot of time being angry last year during school because that's all I would get from people, when all I wanted was for someone to say, "Hang in there. Just work hard and make/do something you can be proud of. And remember that everyone else feels just like this now and then."

      That's it. It's called "encouragement" and it does wonders for self-confidence and work ethic. Don't sweat it, Evan; listen to Marlin Watson, and all will be well.

      Cheyne Owens
      Jul 6, 05 1:50 pm

      jerry, I think you're being too hard....this is a blog discussing personal experience....he's thinking about it all...and I think it's great. You need to question everything (even if your reasons are unclear or underdeveloped)

      Israel Kandarian
      Jul 6, 05 2:09 pm

      roll with it evan. it will make more sense later, with perspective.

      Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke
      Jul 6, 05 4:19 pm

      justin ... or jerry ... or whoever ... if you think that your post is helpful, intuitive, or even mildy engaging, you are wrong. To tell someone to "suck it up," especially when you are going through the same process as that person, and passing it off as advice is just plain weird. So what if Evan has not pursued any type of architecture training before the Career Discovery program? Uhh, that's exactly who the program caters to. I certainly had no prior architecture or design background prior to urban planning school ... and I have to take the same type of intro drawing/CAD classes that Evan is taking right now when I start at Yale in August. Perhaps you think I am ignorant, for not having an architecture background before engaging in my studies. Perhaps I am ignorant for not having completed a summer program like the Career Discovery program at GSD or the one (which I assume is similar to the GSD's) at Cornell. But I can tell you this: I certainly do not "suck it" up. And I tell you this as a 33-year old who is about to embark on career change: I worked as a corporate attorney and entertainment industry executive for 7 years, and I never got to where I did or to where I am right now by "sucking it up." I think I can tell you from experience that "sucking it up" never gets you anywhere.

      Evan is exactly where he needs to be, he's asking the exact questions, and he should be critical about the pedagogic aspects of architecture. How do I know. Because in many ways, I am in the exact same position as Evan.

      Really, I have never read a post on archinect that has inflamed me as much as jerry's. If you are going to be critical, at least know how and when to censure yourself.

      David Zeibin
      Jul 6, 05 6:04 pm

      We had a good discussion about architecture school last fall: www.archinect.com/schoolblog/entry.php?id=9001_0_39_12_C116

      AP
      Jul 6, 05 6:27 pm

      Evan,

      you were prefectly correct when you said "I think you seriously have to unlearn some things before you can really take what we’re doing seriously."

      At the undergraduate program that I attended, the first year (of a 4 yr program) is dedicated to "un-learning" as you put it. Pre-conceptions are difficult to shake, no question. If you continue to be open with yourself (which it sounds like you are doing) than you should be fine.

      morningbell1101
      Jul 6, 05 7:59 pm

      evan,
      i'm starting the m+m at sci-arc (the west coast answer to GSD's "career discovery"), and you're post is quite comforting. it's nice too hear about the insecurities, fears and confusion that you're having about what you know, what you think you know and what you want to learn. i'm expecting those too, and i'm glad to know that i'm not alone.

      jerry,
      have fun regurgitating exactly what you're instructors want with no thought and no questions asked.

      morningbell1101
      Jul 6, 05 8:16 pm

      man, i need grammar check.

      David Cuthbert
      Jul 7, 05 4:08 pm

      he does need to "suck it up" tho, that's life. Critiques aren't about if you like/don't like - more about if it works for the users et al. I've had good crits where I felt like a star after, so where i felt like a loon, others where i was completely berated by the critic simply because he wanted to - doesn't really matter, its all about making the work better. Repeat that to yourself, "its all about making the work better"

      swisscardlite
      Jul 11, 05 5:42 pm

      hey guys, this is justin. i read my friends' (jerry) post and man, it was really harsh.

      keep it up evan. i'm also at cornell and i'm having a lot of fun here doing arch work. i really really enjoy it just like you do. we're with you.

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