A Student Blog by Jordan Laurila

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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 final review.

    But as the days count down to Donald’s first State of the Union address—to which I want to thank my congressman from Georgia, the 5th’s John Lewis, for boycotting—I would like to take this opportunity to make a State of the School Address. I certainly wasn’t asked, this might quite possibly be unwanted, but also like Donald, who needs an invitation when I have an open platform at my disposal. The address is as follows.

    About a week ago, I attended the meeting of Taubman College’s restart of The Architecture Lobby. Discontinued a couple of years ago, the chapter has made its return to the University of Michigan—I would like to take the second opportunity to thank faculty members Brittany Utting and Daniel Jacobs and student, Bryce Brown for championing this. The Architecture Lobby is coined as the radical caucus to the AIA, the unauthorized, organizational add-on whose goal is to accomplish what the AIA cannot, namely surrounding architectural workers’ rights. This is newsworthy, precisely because of the shift it suggests in the school at large.

    Taubman College has a new dean sitting in the office, Jonathan Massey. His agenda—no longer just the words of a speech, the promises he’s supposed to make as a newcomer in his position—but his very agenda is becoming apparent and real. The last two years, the school functioned well while it searched for a new dean. Now that he’s here, the direction that he provides by virtue of being non-transitional is welcome.

    Detroit is on the tip of our tongues a little more frequently. Among both programs, architecture and urban planning, we’re talking about Detroit more. It’s turning from the city-that’s-just-forty-minutes-away into the city that a well-oiled educational institution should be with in communication. But not only with working with the city, town halls and talks about diversity and inclusion are becoming the norm. There are more panel discussions, more site visits, and an evolving high school preparatory program for Detroit high school students. The lecture series features a greater selection of speakers commenting on political issues sited within the discipline. And the Architecture Lobby restart is the latest addition.

    Architecture, topically speaking, is diverse with a wide array of disciplinary questions under its purview. But pardon the polemics when I say object-oriented ontological debates only serve to satisfy the circle jerkers participating in the discussion. Though architecture does not have a static definition, static expression, static mode of being taught and being done, there is still a responsibility it cannot forsake by becoming so entrenched in formal discussions that it becomes indigestible.

    Thank goodness the social project still has a pulse; give it a semester or two to mature, and it’ll be beating steady. Apparently we’re living in the post-truth era. though Slate recently made the call to disbelieve this claim. But the times are certainly changing, and at least I see that Taubman College is changing with it.

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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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