I had studio in undergrad. I've worked in high-pressure work environments. I am a licensed landscape architect. None of that has mattered very much. Before arriving at the GSD I knew the reputation of the school being notorious for overworking its students (yes, I know its an across the board characteristic) - but I harbored a small hope/fantasy that I would escape without all nighters and stress. I shared this hope with previous graduates and current students prior to the start of the semester and nearly universally this idea was met with laughter. Our studio met twice (introduction and a field trip) before the university was officially in session. And since this pre-first day I have felt behind. Im not even sure how this is possible. Especially when you consider that we probably have one of the less pressured studios (so far). We are looking at the Boston Harbor and the idea of Botanical Gardens. This title is merely cover for trying to imagine new types of urbanism and thinking about our collective (future) attitude toward nature. The studio is being taught by Gross MAX - I had not been aware of the firm before the semester (having been out of the industry for the last 4+ years) but their work is solid and inventive which is always a good combination. The studio is a little on the hands-off side of things which provides plenty of room to read and think but leaves me a little anxious for mid-term reviews to pull everything together.
The other required class is a Pro-seminar course taught by the (new) chair of the landscape architecture department - Charles Waldheim. When his appointment was announced I was upset that the GSD had selected an architect to run our program (there really wasn't a qualified Landscape Architect ?!?!?), but after speaking with him and listening to him speak about the state of the industry and our discipline, Im glad he is on our side - 'the newly converted are always the most zealous'. Our course is organized around the question "What is landscape?" We are exploring the question by thinking about the idea through its relations (Is landscape painting? Is landscape architecture? etc.) David Leatherbarrow from UPenn was here this week talking about his idea of Topography as the underling quality of both architecture and landscape arch. Its nice to think again.
With expansion coming in another post, my other classes are a lecture by Sanford Kwinter (Architecture and Art: From Minimalism to Neuro-phenomenology ), Intermediate Drawing with Anne McGhee and Im auditing a professional practice class with Paul Nakazawa (A New Framework for Practice.)