Sep '06 - Oct '07
This semester I am taking Mark Wigley's History of Architectural Theory course, along with a score of other students jam-packed in one of Avery's least-favorite rooms. The course is quite popular, and I understand why- attending the institution of Columbia, being 'fashioned' into one of its students, is one thing. Taking a course from the head of that institution, namely, the Dean, promises insight into that production of mind and thinking. Little secrets, about me and you and where they're going with all this.
If you look at the GSAAP website, the role of the architect is titled, "the EXPANDED architect." What does that mean? Is it that the architect's role IS professionally-expanded, into other disciplines, or that the role of the institution and goal of Mark Wigley, is to academically expand the way of thinking and producing architecture, so that then graduates might attempt to expand the professional role of the architect. I don't know. Or maybe I do know. The important question is, are students actually being exposed to mechanisms they can use as tools to do just that? Do students even want to do that, or they merely content to join the camaraderie of the architecture/practice they were originally inspired by, what they 'knew' in their earlier years, before even stepping into Avery. Mixed motives throughout formulate an interesting school filled with tensions.
In the last lecture, Wigley talked about the 'academic elite'/theorists, about 'knowledge as a building,' thereby institutions and universities. In the earliest days of the academy, architecture joined this elite group and evolved from thereon to other 'schools' and approaches. An analogy can be made between a top-down approach to design vs. a more bottom-up approach. Are other architecture schools out there (pls comment) doing experimental, interesting things from the bottom-up? That's all for now.