Harvard GSD Career Discovery Program



Jul '05 - Jul '05

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    By Evan Sharp
    Jul 6, '05 1:02 PM EST

    Well, I just realized that I should probably explain the purpose of this program.

    Harvard Career Discovery is a six week program for people with no design experience, intended to introduce them to the principles of design school and allow them to "discover" if a career/school in architecture, urban planning, or landscape architecture is right for them.

    Anyway, so far I've enjoyed the program and the design process in general - that first post was simply my attempt at trying to voice the difficulties I was having coming from an academic background in history and adapting to the entirely alien process (to me) of learning architecture. Right! Ok, time for class...


    • soleil



      I think so many of the things you said in your previous post are completely relevant and even useful - especially to educators who might be visiting this forum. All too often ppl (esp. professors) forget where their students are coming from - especially those with no previous design experience. I think your comment about "unlearning" was extremely insightful. I'm impressed that you're asking questions the way you are (even if it feels like venting) given that you are taking part in a pre-Arch program at such a respected institution. Many would just take what 'they' are saying for its face value without understanding the 'why' of it all.

      Keep asking why & how.

      Though it may cause you more headaches along the way, it'll get you much much further in terms of your own design process than those who simply look to regurgitate information.

      Finally, promise me you'll keep two things in mind:

      1) you wouldn't be enrolled in the program if you already knew everything they have to teach you (what a remarkable waste of $$$ that would be - this holds true for anyone enrolled in any design studio/class, by the way, so keep asking your questions!)

      2) you don't have to fight the system to make it work for you

      Keep us posted...

      Jul 6, 05 2:10 pm


      Jul 6, 05 6:29 pm

      What everyone else (except Jerry'Justin) said. I always found critiques really, really hard (I was in art studio courses, not architecture, but there are some similarities in the final moments), because I didn't want to just hear what was wrong (or right) w/my project. I wanted to explain why I did something and verbalize my thought process, so people could critique *that* instead of what was on the wall. It's only so useful knowing that what you did sucks--it's also useful to be able to establish a dialogue so you know where exactly you started on the path to suckdom. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of good profs who understood I wasn't trying to argue/talk back, I was trying to talk "through" a project.

      Anyway, I think your first post was right on. That's the reason they have Career Discovery programs--ask the right questions now so you don't wake up 15 years ago and think, "Oh my god, what am I doing with my life! I *hate* architecture!"

      Jul 6, 05 7:58 pm

      i did the gsd career discovery program about 10-11 years ago. at the time i had completed 2 years of undergrad arch school. and at that time it was all types some with exp and some without... for me i loved it totally... I now have a ba in art history & criticism, and a masters in arch and several years of arch working and teaching exp.

      if i repeat what others said for give it cause i didnt read other post. BUT. what you are experiencing is what we all exp. but it gets worse thats if you are planning to go to arch school then practice as an architect... you are in a phase that is very elementary and kind, because the instructors are students also.(at least they were when i was there, granted they were in there last year of a 3 year grad program). so they are actually kinder. and you are thinking too much on the things that are not important. such as materials and being a newbie and how should a architect think blah blah... what is or should be your focus is building a sophication of design and vision, maybe if you look at interior design in person then also look at movies and see how the design around the movie is telling the stories the new star wars movies are perfect for this. so just think of setting a mood like in nice upscale restaurants or a bullshit starbucks all this stuff is setting moods based on this environment, so you learn from environment not necessary from reading about architecture or technic on model building blah blah.
      think about your surroundings, think about the "background music" not the in your face unimportant details. if you think loosy and think about design as design and purely as that then it flows threw you. its like when you get too caught up on technic and what is a circle or how do you do this or that then you lose the expericence of just doing...
      2d design is important because this is how we comunicate to contractors to produce buildings. so learning how to understand 3d into a 2d communication is the best think yet.
      starting with career discovery then combining that with a architectural education from a well rounded program well help build you as a good design communicator...but when you come into the working world of architecture be ready for another hurdle that has nothing to do with sophistication but more practical bs...

      Jul 6, 05 10:07 pm

      oh i forgot to comment on the teacher student discussion and crits...
      ok in the working world crits and getting someone to say ok to your designs is much easier than in any school setting because most people even other architects have no real taste for good design. only a small portion of humans do... but this comment is an aside....

      now in the academic world you are ridden like a mad bull!!!! So enjoy the tussel.

      Seriously though school is the time for you to be challenged and pulling long long hours and thinking quickly and drawing and building quickly is all to turn you into something.... some flourish and become true designers. others fake it and bullshit and still get to work as architects but are not real designers...

      during crits you should go in knowing what you want to say how you came to make something what is the reasons for the movement. then when they make there comments... intrepret them with things like what do you mean ? or how should i have thought about it? but not necessarliy defending your ideas but simple questions and always always interpret them... even if someone else is presenting attempt to join in on the discussion in a very plain and unarrgorant way.... also during desk crits listen in on someone elses desk crit but from a far ... sometimes this gives you some perspective on your own project. when you have a desk crit this is the time to really learn from an instructor. maybe ask one of the other instructors (one that isnt your primary instructor) if they are in studio ask them if they wouldnt mind given you a desk crit.... or also one of the other students one that is a bit more senior than you. ask them so what do you think of this just talk to them .... i mean i know gsd still has that open fully open studio... or do they?

      Jul 6, 05 10:44 pm

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