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    Personal Infrastructure

    By bryan boyer
    Sep 26, '07 1:13 AM EST

    Tonight at MIT Saskia Sassen lectured about the possibility of "cutting edge, state of the art architecture" behaving in the role of infrastructure to facilitate global capitalism. In summary, that there are certain qualities of space which cater to the needs of and assist the development of knowledge economies. It was an interesting, if peripatetic, lecture and it made me start to think more carefully about my own personal infrastructure. That is, each semester we make- implicitly or explicitly- decisions about how we will conduct our work. How do we shape our immediate environment and why?

    Schools all have their own unique studio environments which probably have a subtle effect on the way we work. Although it seems that most schools have outlawed the creating of substantial booths to envelop the desk, people nevertheless develop elaborate structures at their desk to provide shade, storage, or simply to show off. Other choose to work at home and only show up to studio for reviews.


    Since moving my studio desk into my home I haven't looked back. It does get a little stuffy to live and work in 400sqf, but ultimately I feel much less like a Zombie.

    I'm one of the latter. After spending many nights freezing my fingers off at the GSD since the heat cuts out at 1am, I decided that I could brave the temptations of television and a near-by bed to give working at home a try. Although I do miss the 'studio experience,' a legitimately important part of architecture school, I feel more productive and much, much more like a real human. Working at home means I have the time to do things like eat breakfast, take a nap without having to sleep on one of the slobber couches in the lounge, relax my brain with a few minutes of MTV, play my own music... with speakers!

    So, Archinect, what are the things that effect you productivity most? What weird or special things do you to do make your workspace suit you better?


    • postal

      where'd you get those sexy shelves?

      i did the switch to work at home, i think for me the most important thing was a clear definition of work space. the time i spent outside this space i knew i wasn't working, any time i needed a snack i would get it and bring it too the work space. i think this kept me from getting derailed by something else. oh, and another thing that worked for me, music you haven't heard before...even perhaps don't like. i used to download stream of house music so i wouldn't get sucked into a miles davis solo.

      but seriously, where'd you get the shelves?

      Sep 26, 07 7:32 am  · 
      Sep 26, 07 8:13 am  · 

      ah crap... slightly out of my reach...

      Sep 26, 07 9:12 am  · 

      i've been working from home for about a year now in a different industry to pay the bills while i'm in grad school. i do like the convenience of the "2 steps away" office, but i hate the inability to leave my work at the office. i guess i should get used to it; from what i understand, this is the architect's life. i'm optimistic that the work is more exciting than my current employment

      Sep 26, 07 11:48 am  · 
      bryan boyer

      postal- got the shelves from a client that I did a little work for...

      nosleep- that's a good point. I find that turning my computer off completely instead of putting it to sleep makes it a little easier for me to avoid being bothered by work when I'm supposed to be taking a break. Seems more resolute.

      Sep 26, 07 12:22 pm  · 

      Haha i couldnt help from responding with a little bit of my own experience....

      I sometimes feel that when im at studio im limited to the things i can do via computer or cant focus. Then when im at home i begin to ponder the same things. This usually triggers a cycle during the night where i get nothing done because im going back and forth from studio and home.

      Vicious cycle..

      Sep 26, 07 1:09 pm  · 
      Mark Bearak

      postal, you should really consider putting your money to better use, like sending 70 cents a day to a starving child in Africa, just kidding.

      That said, I appreciate your rejection of the studio lifestyle, but I feel that the interaction with your fellow colleagues is part of the educational experience. I think of my colleague's and my own work as collaborative efforts. If someone is having trouble, they can simple lean over to their neighbor and get immediate results.

      I agree that studio may not be the most efficient use of time, but I also know that I will remember my studio nights far longer than my nights at home.

      Sep 26, 07 8:08 pm  · 
      bryan boyer

      mark, I agree! As a TA for the first semester students I always encourage them to work in studio as much as possible. After going through 3 years of ugrad studio and another 2.5 years of studio at the GSD I decided to start working at home. Maybe 5 years of working in studio is enough... though I do think I may give it a last hurrah next semester during thesis.

      Sep 27, 07 10:21 am  · 

      People don't go to studio for a variety of reasons:

      1. Drama(who slept with who)
      2. Monotony of seeing the same faces, day in, day out

      Oct 6, 07 4:01 pm  · 

      One of the things that makes the GSD studio experience unique is the sectional continuity of the studio space, the "everyone under one roof" quality which creates the stage for class bonding rituals (CODE OF SILENCE!). A perennial challenge was the (extracurricular) design of a paper airplane with a rate of gliding descent approximating the slope of the trusses. In other words, release your entry from the fifth tray. The plane that glides farthest before hitting a tray or the ceiling wins.

      Reflecting on my GSD experience, it's hard to re-imagine the whole thing in a shoebox, or even a relatively comfy (warm) home environment. Regardless of what some bloggers have written about faculties and facilities, I found the biggest draw of the top schools to be the quality and diversity of my colleagues. Definitely give the studio a last hurrah for thesis.

      BTW, most of the desk-enveloping booths at the GSD were built to trap warm air (Black & Decker Heat thruster from Pill Hardware, one speed still works).

      Dec 7, 07 3:34 pm  · 

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