The end of the summer is approaching and my thoughts have drifted more and more frequently to the fall studios. Now that I'm in my last year, I get to have a go at the advanced studios. This fall's batch includes:
Joel Sanders & Diana Balmori
I happen to be a big fan of Murcutt””he was one of the first architects brought to my attention after I learned what architecture was. He's based in Australia, however, and isn't likely to be around much. Jeannie Gang, of Studio Gang/O'Donnell in Chicago, seems really interesting. I wonder what kind of a person she is. Brigitte Shim, of Shim-Sutcliffe architects in Toronto, looks to be a materials-sensitive crafts woman””which is great, but the forms her firm generates aren't all that compelling. I've heard that Diana Balmori is not the best of teachers, and while Krier is a probably a genius I'm not really into his shtick. Alan Plattus is more of a planner, a member of Yale's permanent faculty, and planning means group work, which I'd rather avoid. Working in a pair is fine, but groups are difficult. Eisenman evokes strong reactions in everyone””people seem to love him or hate him. What I like about him is his dedication to teaching; he's at studio every week (maybe even twice a week) and he eats lunch with his students before rounding them up into little group discussions. He really cares about pedagogy, which I think may be more important for a student that the content of the pedagogy itself. A great teacher will provide more intellectual fodder than mediocre one, even if their subject is not your favorite. Is Eisenman a great teacher? I don't know. But at least he's there.
In any case, I'll decide whom to vote for after I hear what they have to say. Admission into advanced studios is done using a lottery system. Each student has a certain number of points to be divided up among the possible options. The more points you award, the more likely you are to get into that studio””theoretically, anyway. There are strategies. If you give all your points to one teacher and then don't get in to their studio, for whatever reason, you've basically said that you like all other studios equally and will end up in the least popular one. So loading points in one place is not a great idea.
Last semester I missed the lottery and wound up in the least popular studio. I won't let that happen again.
I found this crazy image to share of construction in Korea: