Thank-you all for the helpful and compassionate response to my last post; I see that open-ended entries with questions are more comment-friendly than my typically closed and tiresomely whiney style from before, so I'll adjust. Yes, I am that vain.
Today during studio it was announced that the day would be spend participating in an all-school design charrette with the goal to give the school a "heart." The USC architecture building, Watt Hall, is notoriously characterless and unreactive to its context.
Last semester, the building was under construction, adding a long-ago planned third floor which will contain offices and extra studio space. I got the distinct feeling that the undergraduate student body was fairly indifferent about the whole thing; the construction was annoying but rarely intrusive. Now, however, the school is enlisting its students to bring personality to the school, a "redesign and re-use of the existing facilities to enrich the school's activities beyond the normal class structure. The school of architecture needs to have a physical setting supporting our unique community of students, faculty, and staff."
The charrette was a competition: we were divided into 4-6 person teams and asked to plan something, as large-scale or as focused as we wanted. My team first decided on a rather unambitious plan to beautify or simply spruce up the main courtyard between Watt and Harris, the fine arts building ("Oh, I don't know, a little paint, a few flowers, a couple of throw pillows..."). With a little help from our instructor we began to think more about what displeased us about the current arrangement: first years stuck in an airless basement. Our only source of sunlight:
Our plan became a large excavation on the south side of the building, some 90 ft by 60 ft and 10 ft deep, with a paved and covered patio and sloped grass area, providing a sheltered place of meeting or relaxation as well as giving the basement a large wall of openable windows. Actually, I made that last part up, I don't really know what they wrote on the presentation board: I wasn't consulted.
(Imagine a big, stylish pit here.)
I am vexed by the hugely collaborative nature of architecture. I enjoy working on my own. And if I am going to work with others, I'd like to assume that they have to same devotion that I do. All the leader of my group could say was that she wanted to be out of there by six. I have no social life, so I suppose it's unfair to expect the same of others, but architecture isn't a "I need to be out of here by..." field. You're finished when you're finished it's due. I ran into the same problems last night cutting the wood--the person I was in the shop with wasn't measuring as carefully as I was, and so many of our pieces are faultily formed. Here's the open ended bit: what are some recommendations you have for working with groups? We ended up being all right. Our project won't compare, of course, to the designs cooked up by the fourth- or fifth-year students, but I'm oddly proud of it in a dorky way.