Knowlton School of Architecture (Marc Syp)



Aug '05 - Jan '11

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    Summer classes kick off my arch education

    By mpsyp
    Aug 14, '05 6:18 PM EST

    Hi everybody. Hopefully I will maintain this blog on a fairly consistent basis. Archinect was a great help to me when I was choosing a graduate program and I think the blog project is a great idea. Hopefully I can contribute back to the community and give prospective students a chance to see what we are doing here at Knowlton in the 3+ program.

    A little background: I graduated from Washington University in '98 with a degree in English Lit. and minors in film and psychology. I worked as a book editor for 3 years and as a film programmer for another 3. Certain circumstances changed in my life and I decided to go back to school for architecture, something I had always thought about studying but never really considered it a real possibility.

    It certainly has gotten serious very quickly! The summer program has been a crash course in architectural education. I was familiar with the legendary commitment that arch school requires but I think I was a bit in denial. The summer courses are already more work than any of my full time jobs ever were. (I have admittedly been spoiled in that respect.)

    The good news is that it has been a really challenging and very rewarding experience. I think that if you thrive on challenge and are motivated to do the best that you can do that arch school can be extremely rewarding. I guess we'll see if I'm still beating that drum in a year. Check back for the progress reports.

    So, about the program so far... I have to say that the two classes that I am taking -- Intro to History, Theory, Criticism and Intro Studio -- have been very complementary. I find that I am using a lot of what I learn in HTC to inform my studio work. The classes in the summer are a mix of 3+ers and undergrads. WE'll be mixed in with the undergrads for structures and history classes for the first year, but us 3+ers will have our own studio starting in the fall. In year 2 we will join the 4+2 students and in year 3 we will all be "6th years", as they call it.

    I am, of course, a novice at this with no architecture experience, so it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I'm still getting adjusted to the workload, which will increase twofold in the autumn. There are times when I am really excited by the current project and times when I am thoroughly discouraged. I will post a picture of one of the models that I wanted to burn after I take a pic of it. In the meantime, here follow some of the models that were very satisfying to make.

    This first one was the culmination of our study of "precedent houses": mine was Rem Koolhaas' Maison Bordeaux. We started by diagramming the building, drawing plans, and building a representational model. Our final assignment for this project was to build a diagrammatic model that we felt expressed the essential qualities of the building.

    I chose to focus on the perceived instability of the counterweight structural system, rotating the "precarious mass", as I call it, of the upper floor to an extreme position. The final model almost expresses a sense of equilibrium that is not present in the actual building. You'll notice that the skewed walls of the childrens' bedrooms are not rotated with the mass. Rather, the upper level floor plate acts as a section cut of the upper level walls remaining static. I did this to emphasize the connection of these walls to the lower level and the tripartate divisions throughout the building.



    After the precedent assignments we were asked to express an architectural word in a 9" x 9" cube. I drew the word "penetration" out of a hat. I was not happy with my first iterations:



    After our fourth iteration we were asked to conform to a "seaside retreat" program, with 5 interior spaces and one exterior. After building one model out of complete frustration, I decided to take an entirely new direction and came up with a plan that I was much more excited about. Here is the study model for my final project:



    That's been the summer in a nutshell. Some late nights and lots of work on the weekend, but no all-nighters yet. It's fairly obvious that time management is going to be critical here. Anyway, I'll keep you all posted on the goings on here, and I hope this is helpful to someone.



    • AP

      looks like you're enjoying yourself. good luck keepin' on...

      Aug 14, 05 9:20 pm

      happy to know you are doing well. things here at UC are crazy-two weeks left in the quarter, and I am sure there won't be a lot of sleep involved! Keep in touch!

      Aug 15, 05 12:55 pm

      Hey tiny, are any of you new UC guys doing blogs? If so, send me a link!
      Aug 15, 05 2:11 pm

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