A Student Blog by Jordan Laurila

  • I have an air mattress at my studio desk.

    By Laurila
    Mar 21, '18 2:24 PM EST

    At Taubman College, the studio occupies the third floor. The third floor is studio, the third floor is architecture, the third floor is Taubman. Architecture school can’t happen without the studio. Pedagogically, it is entrenched and just as much, culturally entrenched as well. Peter Zellner might disagree, but that’s okay.

    The college shares a building with the art school, so the distinction is relevant. The third floor is a big box, rectilinear, thirty thousand continuous square feet, and a ceiling height of probably fifteen feet. There is a new addition, completed by Preston Scott Cohen, and while he added a second heart to the school, the original never left CMYK on the third floor, though that furniture really helps make the space habitable.

    This post is an ode to the third floor, and if you don’t go to University of Michigan, it is an ode to the studio.

    I remember my first day in studio. It was my second day in Ann Arbor. It was the end of June for 3G orientation. I was fresh-faced and eager when I walked into that Robert Swanson-designed building. I was fresh-faced and still eager and a little intimidated when I arrived to room 1227 for the opening session of orientation. And I was fresh-faced and scared shitless when we all migrated to the third floor for studio orientation in East Review. I’m probably still scared shitless whenever I get to studio each day, but at least it feels normal by now.

    The third floor shines every Friday. Every student, graduate and undergraduate, has studio. The energy teeters in somewhat mania. It is hectic, it is stressed, but it’s also at its most efficient, most productive, and it takes no time at all for Friday to feel normal. During one preview weekend, a visiting student remarked how intimidating the third floor is. It can be. It’s less annoying when you’re part of the machine. Every memory I replay of studio on Friday resembles an Aaron Sorkin walk-and-talk scene. Brisk pace, fast conversation, whatever was plotted to print in the left hand, coffee sloshing about in that green disposable cup in the right. The print queue is clogged; there is a line at the plotter, and I still don’t have enough to show the professor.

    But we do it all for the studio culture, right? That’s why we’re still here, right?

    Studio culture can transform that dread of walking into studio when it’s the last place you want to be into something much more manageable. There will always be another person already in studio with the energy to pick you up, or another person who can join you in commiseration. Someone who will pick up Panda Express because it’s the only place still open (Hi, my name is Jordan and I’m a Panda-holic) with you across the street, who will camp out with you in the CMYK review space, who will complain about this or that assignment, this or that professor, this or that decision to come to architecture school. Oh right, we do it for the studio culture.

    As someone without an undergraduate degree in architecture, I put no thought into studio culture at the schools that I applied to. Fortune favored me and even though I’m still scared shitless walking into studio, I still thank fortune for being kind.

    Preview weekends are approaching, and while every studio has its universalities and generalities, luck may not suffice. Assumption may not suffice. And so if you’re coming to a Michigan preview weekend, come find me. I’m in the space studio with El Hadi. I love answering questions and feeling important. Or not, we're all pretty nice. 

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  • State of the School Address 2018

    By Laurila
    Jan 28, '18 1:25 PM EST

    A few weeks in into the start of the semester, we’re still in that magical and transitional time, the beginning of a semester. Or more precisely, because it is the start of a new studio, things feel fresh. These sweet moments are paralleled only to those that immediately follow being done with... View full entry

  • I should probably stop drinking coffee.

    By Laurila
    Nov 6, '17 5:33 PM EST

    The coffee machine in the media center is broken. It’s starting to affect the students. Whether an architecture student enters architecture school with a love of coffee or not, the architecture student probably leaves this hallowed institution with some level of dependency. When the machine... View full entry

  • Architecture is in love with itself.

    By Laurila
    Oct 23, '17 1:28 AM EST

    The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a lot. I’m not the first to write about it, certainly won’t be the last, but maybe I’ll be the first to say simply, naively, unequivocally, that it is a lot. Every available space, hallway and corner is put to work in the exhibitional narrative put forth... View full entry

  • A Piece of Clothing, and a Piece of Niemeyer

    By Laurila
    Oct 8, '17 7:30 PM EST

    It's not quite groundbreaking to assert that travel is life changing. Of course it is. It’s equally obvious for me to equate traveling to being a better designer. Sure, there is a connection there. Sure, there are a thousand blogs and articles to attest to this fact, but I’m going to do one... View full entry

  • I'm in architecture school because of a barrel vault.

    By Laurila
    Oct 3, '17 11:14 PM EST

    I’m in architecture school because of a barrel vault   A barrel vault is the simplest kind of vault, essentially just a series of arches placed one after another. It was originally built from stone, but the barrel vault that I’m referring to consists of concrete framing, stucco, and plaster... View full entry

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About this Blog

Details, impressions, and all those in between memories deserve a voice. It just so happens architecture school has given me a lot of those. I am a 3-Year Masters of Architecture student at Taubman College at the University of Michigan, and we'll see where this gets us.

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