STOP THE ARCHITORTURE!
(yes, this is an image from a film - but i thought the pic was very appropriate)
"Sustainability" is increasingly a concern for designers, and as architecture students, many of us spend a lot of time thinking about how to make our designs more energy efficient, more healthy and more environmentally sustainable. But amidst all this talk about sustainable design – one thing that doesn't often get mentioned is the sustainability of life in architecture school.
Do any of you out there recognize this picture: students routinely spending 10-15 hours per day sitting in one place, glued to flickering computer screens in painfully cramped desks while toxic chemicals are handled all around them? I’ve often found myself in this exact position: eyes straining, back sore, trying to finish a project at 4am, under flickering fluorescent lights, while someone next to me melts acrylic with a cancer-causing solvent, the person on the other side of me hacking up toxic blue foam with a saw, and the person behind me snoring in a sleeping bag underneath their desk. If you recognize yourself in this picture – wake up: THIS IS NOT HEALTHY!
I frequently managed to pull multiple all-nighters in this type of environment, slowly watching more and more lines appear underneath my eyes and grey hairs pop up on my head. Why do we pay tens of thousands of dollars to subject ourselves to this kind of life, when most other professional schools (including law and medicine) seem to have evolved out to a more reasonable understanding of live/work balance? Even medical schools, which used to be famous for torturing their students with grueling hours and unreasonable deadlines, have wised-up to the fact that red-eyed, sleep-deprived, pill-popping students can’t learn effectively or make smart decisions. We do it because it’s the culture of design school – this is what is expected of us, and what everyone around us seems to accept as ‘the way things are”.
QUESTIONS FOR OTHER ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS OUT THERE...
Is this just an issue at Columbia, or do other architecture students have similar experiences?
Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous and should change?
Why do you think the culture of architecture school is like this?
Is it possible to change it? What can we do?