University of Southern California (Daniel)

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    The end of the beginning (sort of)

    By Daniel
    Apr 27, '06 8:17 PM EST

    Just in case there was any doubt left about the versatility of my incompetence: I've just learned that the Qingyun Ma dean candidacy lecture was last night and I completely missed it. I do regret not being able to update everyone; this decanal search business has brought a gust of urgency and relevance to this blog that I, at least, have found refreshing and fun. I'll be sure to catch Ms. Crawford's lecture, which is, I believe, scheduled for next Monday. Again, my apologies.

    On the studio front, today was the second half of final reviews and so the last day of being a first year. The review moved almost briskly, but was still very informative and engaging. A good deal of emphasis was placed on the quality of the drawings, especially clarity of plans and aptness of rendered perspectives. Apparently in second year the teachers begin to require CAD presentations, which is, in a way, exciting, because there's a lot more potential for creativity in terms of the sort of presentation boards I see on this site and others, but a bit of the art is lost. I do look forward to learning how to arrange presentations and try interesting things like overlapping plans and using text and all that, but I'm sure a part of me will miss the mayline and the stubborn surface of strathmore. In any case, we were encouraged not to lose the skills we've developed this year, so maybe they'll change the requirements. One can hope.


    • dtowntitan

      As a recent graduate with a Masters Degree I will give you this advice. Do not lose your ability to hand draw, and some of the best presentations, and most of the best presentations use multi media, so use both CAD and hand drawing together, possibly along with graphics and other things. So you dont have to completely use one or the other. Learn how to use all of your skills in a way that compliments each other.

      Apr 27, 06 9:02 pm

      I Agree, most CAD presentations are lifeless, and often flat, even thought they are in 3D. The best thing about using CAD for presentations is the cleanliness of the line weights etc, but the dept and emotive qualities of a design are very hard to express with CAD.

      Apr 27, 06 11:56 pm

      you could steal someone else's notes to report on ma. ?

      tell them how impt it is, that you're the 'voice of usc arch', yada yada....

      i wouldn't want you to beat yourself up about it, but then we would've missed that great phrase: 'the versatility of my incompetence'.

      Apr 28, 06 7:29 am

      the kids with hand drafting experience are the ones that do legible CAD CDs. The CAD monkeys that like slick renderings generally falter when it comes to outputting comprehendable CAD drawings. You're the better for having both skill sets.

      'the versatility of my incompetence': this was the name of my first album when i was in a seattle grunge band.

      Apr 28, 06 9:10 am

      Having gone to his lecture as well as the discussion, I will tell you that the first thing that strikes you about Ma is his youth, coupled with his accomplishments - its almost overbearing to have someone younger than any of my instructors as a candidate for dean. His work is extremely interesting, especially given the context of Shanghai and the type of speed of construction they demand in China. He operates on a massive scale - one scheme featured facades which actually had to be coded because elevations were too long to draw. He values research highly, especially dealing with urbanism. Some interesting questions had to do with the identity of the school and our lack of one, to which he responded that we shouldn't try to create a new identity but instead grow and improve together - his long term goals echo that of Peter Pran a bit in terms of making USC the capitol of architectural education in the Pacific rim, but really capitalizing on the city of Los Angeles as a center of new art and criticism. About his blooming practice, he is still unsure what he would do if he were chosen to be dean, if he would continue it, but he also believes that a dean should have to deal with architectural practice. If chosen, he is also likely to teach a topic research studio as well as sit in on ALL the reviews - The best quote : "Reviews are like flowers. You have to smell them to know how to water next year."


      You should come out to the second year reviews on the 3rd floor today and see some of the boards going up. You can see the wide range of success achieved through CAD as well as some alternative methods of drawing. I'm not sure if anyone hand drew their boards this semester but last semester a few people did 100% hand-rendered presentations, a very welcomed sight for the jurors. Definetely take advantage of your education here and come see the level of the 2nd year class - look for the best projects and aim to do better than them next year =)

      Apr 28, 06 10:31 am

      I'll certainly try... wave if you see an awkward, uncertain-looking first year skulking by the door.

      Apr 28, 06 10:34 am

      Haha don't be shy. Its your right as a student. Just walk around and look. Get up close to jurors if you like - just don't..touch anyone. =)

      Apr 28, 06 1:50 pm

      Thanks to WoAiSanSan for the report. I'd be concerned about Ma and his practice, after having taken grad courses and heard the complaints about Scott Johnson's issues with that, or rather his students' issues with it. But his accomplishments at this point are definitely amazing... I guess I just feel for the people having to make that decision!

      Apr 29, 06 1:08 am


      Do not miss the chance of seeing 3rd year reviews on Wednesday and Friday. Our current 3rd year have technical skills like you would not believe, and operate on a variety of mediums, and yes, they can make 2D CAD drawings beautiful. Anyway I don't know any of their projects design-wise but the pre-show I got during turn-in was MAJOR eyecandy. Drag your friends, too. Don't walk in like you own the place..just part of it, and keep quiet when around people presenting. Reviews (not just your year) are probably one the most important educational tools you have, so take advantage of them.

      May 1, 06 8:59 pm

      Yes, I was definitely planning to go to those too. The second year projects were nice... a lot of different directions. A lot of them seemed a little rebellious, if you know what I mean.

      May 1, 06 9:49 pm

      I think I do know what you mean about "rebellious." But then again the second year faculty is very good at "accepting" student ideas and will try their best to help you improve your process instead of telling you what you can or can't do. The problem now is that people just do what they want often without justification, with the tinge of arrogance commonly found among teenagers these days, and then they get killed during the review for it. All in all I think everyone got what they deserved. But thats really more than you need to know...just keep kicking ass.

      May 2, 06 3:40 am

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