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.