final reviews recap
Monday and Wednesday were final reviews of the 201 studios. Since I wasn't in a studio this semester, working only on thesis prep and a few other classes, I had the luxury of wandering around and absorbing the spectrum of studio activity that took place this fall.
I ended up staying with Ron Rael's Border studio almost the entire time. It was a captivating conversation, and kudos to the jurors for staying until nearly 8pm to see it through. So often a good jury will disintegrate as time begins to run over and good projects still await.
Here's but a taste of things on display:
Nicholas de Monchaux's studio, in the lobby:
Mark Anderson's studio:
Peter Testa's studio (reviewed on Monday)
At the end of the reviews, Mark Anderson called everyone together for a recap of the semester and to raise some questions and thoughts about the state of architectural design at Berkeley. Oh and of course we had wine and cheese, otherwise all of the students would have collapsed from exhaustion.
I was pleased to hear a lot of passionate and provocative questions from my fellow students, both about their work and their hopes for the future of the school. We talked a lot about the collaborative nature of studios, and one person raised a really good point that collaboration vs. competition is a false dichotomy. As collaborative as our studios are, there's a healthy dose of competition as well.
It always seems that a school's strengths are also its weaknesses. I raised the issue that many students here are wishing for more connectivity within the discourse, and I suggested that some of that leadership weight should fall on the professors. It is my belief that the multivalence of Berkeley studios is only successful as a whole if we can clearly identify how the various ideological strands relate to one another. This requires some effort, perhaps a lot of effort, and students should be involved as well. It seems necessary that the burden of leadership be dispersed as a central figure with a strong ideology might rob some of the intellectual freedom that Berkeley enjoys.
We can still maintain the design breadth which is a strength at Berkeley; all I'm asking is for more effort to connect to the outside. And I don't accept the lazy argument that we are West coast and so we can't connect with what's going on in the East. This is the internet age, people. Besides, there's already been excellent efforts by Rene Davids linking in with South America, Renee Chow in China, Nicholas de Monchaux in Venice, others in India, and more.
There's also a new journal that some students here are putting out, which deserves its own entry, so stay tuned for that.
It's clear to me that Berkeley is in a transition period, choosing a new dean of the CED hopefully soon as well as a new chair of the department of architecture. It is my belief that this period of transition, this deterritorialized moment, is in fact a fruitful time for design work. As we search for an identity I think we, as students, are working harder than last year in an effort to forge this identity. Studios are competing, we are pushing to expand digital resources, and a new wave of faculty is beginning to get a foothold.