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Recently I've been researching several graduate programs to continue my education. Unfortunately, the list of schools I have compiled is small. I have particularly good grades; however, I can't seem to find the right programs for me. This is more of a two part-er question, so please bare with me. My first question is on the curriculum being taught at most schools nowadays. I can't really understand why there has been a shift into parametrics and other related topics,which have seemingly taken over every school.The shift into this "new modernism" ,if that is what you want to call it, is just not something I can wrap my head around. For the most part the curriculum at my school is grounded in a "traditional" manner. To be honest i think until recently it was one of the "last" schools to still place emphasis on the need to draw (by hand, not that digital B.S). Of course there are professors who are in love with parametrics/blobitecture and other types of architecture consumed by form. Unfortunately, I was forced into taking a class with a professor who happens to have that type of mentality, and as a result I have been having a torrid time this term. I like Luigi Snozzi, Mario Campi, and Massimo Carmassi among others, but my professor always puts them down and calls their work outdated architecture. So my first question is about my tendencies as a student. Does anyone think they will present any difficulties, in terms of the zeitgeist in architecture? Was I just born at the wrong time, and now I have to live with going to school and everyone expecting my projects to look like a Gehry, Morphosis, or god forbid a Zaha Hadid building? Does anyone know of any programs who don't place an emphasis on digital architecture (for the lack of a better term)?
I don't think it's an issue. Look at how popular architects like Tod Williams & Billie Tsien and Peter Zumthor are today ... there will always be a demand for a conservative approach. With that said, I would suggest approaching parametricism with an open mind. People who pursue parametrics are trying to explore how new technologies could benefit architecture or open the field up to new possibilities. I agree that too often they prioritize form over substance, but many architects of all stripes have always been that way - it's simply easier to hide the lack of rigor when your work looks more conservative. I took a parametric design class where we looked at some of the underlying theories behind the movement and felt like I had a more rigorous and constructive experience. In my experience, I haven't ever had parametric design or non-orthogonal forms (for lack of a better description) pushed on me, even at some schools with fairly progressive reputations. The big question, regardless of the external appearance of any work, is whether or not any underlying ideas informed your design decisions.
I don't know what to say other than some schools seem to push it 100%, other schools are blended, meaning it's emphasized but you don't have to buy in, and a few schools have not bought in. I'm sure that scouring their websites thoroughly will tell you which is which. Parametrics is the province of starchitects and big ticket commissions. It is not applicable to a lot of design work, especially design work that has a more utilitarian or budget-constrained purpose, even with the advancements that have been made. As far as schools go, and from what I can glean from here, the only major school that figures prominently in parametrics, yet allows pluralistic thinking, and design solutions, seems to be Michigan. Some of the parametric design solutions students are showing look like pure substance over form, more appropriate for art school than architecture school. More fodder that sometimes architecture doesn't know its ass from a hole in the ground. Curricula that are as volatile and different as the weather, IDP, a crazy economy, and parametrics ... great bedfellows.
Observant is correct. Tons of schools may have a fabrication lab and SUPPORT parametric modeling but in no way require it. My university was one of those. Some design studio professors were into it, some weren't, but even those who liked it respected those students who chose not to design that way.