University of Southern California (Daniel)

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    New Semester, or, Tired Already?

    By Daniel
    Jan 10, '06 2:02 AM EST

    First days of the semester are always deeply unsettling for many reasons. I say that confident in my experience of, um, two first days of a semester so far. But it seems sensible enough. Today was dominated by my quest to replace my lost USCard, which not only works as a student ID but also as a building, floor, suite, and room key, a studio key, a library card, a meal ticket, etc. I also had my first medieval history class, which I’m taking for USC’s western civilization requirement (I’ll talk about these at length later); it turns out there will be about 200 pages of reading a week, but at least it’s the intriguingly useless kind, so I might enjoy it. All this left me exhausted feeling a bit deflated by the time I started studio at 2pm—blame the past three weeks of break and doing nothing.

    The second semester program is coordinated by Lee Olvera, who replaces the much-loved Amy Murphy, who coordinates first semester and then teaches fifth year topic studio in the spring. I had my final review with Lee last semester and liked his critique of my project, so I wouldn’t have been opposed to being put in his studio, but I was put in that of Janice Shimizu, who is new to the school. She seems level-headed and thoughtful, as if the rolling wave of her hands when she speaks represents a more cogent type of reasoning. First impressions are that she has high standards, both of design and of craft. I don’t know how she’ll compare to my instructor from last semester, Liz Falletta, whose fierce analysis and good humor impressed me beyond words. It’s dangerous, perhaps, to make side-by-side comparisons of studio instructors when one should be taking advantage of the different pedagogical methods of each.

    Most of the first day was spent with a brief explanation of the first project, which is a precedent analysis (I was assigned the Assembly building at Chandagarh by Le Corbusier), as well as a lengthy introduction to the woodworking and metal shop and rules of safety. Every project this semester will require the use of the shop, which intimidates and excites me at once.

    Like I said, all this left me very tired, and I’m too lazy to move all my Strathmore, lamps, and drawing and model supplies into studio tonight. First frustration: we need to have wooden bases for the first project made by Thursday, and I still don’t know where to buy wood. I suppose material acquisition woes are an essential part of every architect’s education, but to me it’s even more frustrating because it shouldn’t be frustrating.

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