Boston Architectural Center (Nicholas)

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    +02 Comment, controversy and bluntness

    Nicholas Ng
    Oct 12, '06 11:58 PM EST

    "Deep breath" ... 6 weeks into the semester, and I'm exhausted and frustrated. I'm exhausted with work and I'm frustrated with school work. There are times I question myself whether this is such a good idea or not.

    Well, studio have been going okay. Still not particularly pleased with some of the decision I made in the design process. I'll post results later on as I move along with the project. In short, we are to design a high density housing for a community (BAC students) in an existing urban grid. No razing of existing building or landscape like the modernism utopia.

    Anyway part of the frustration is not the concept of the studio, but the lack of it. But before commenting of that, in response to inhabitat
    Columbia University GSAPP (Jill) blog entry, I think I'm both the fashion victim and leaker here.

    The Fashion Victim. The well-meaning intelligent student who loves architecture and wants to do it but cannot get the available critics to teach anything that is not inflected by the latest irrelevant mode. Um, how thick is a wall? Well, as Baudrillard said... End result: a successful career as a restaurateur.

    The Leaker. The one who always loses it. He or she has been awake for three weeks. He or she has been totally misunderstood by his or her critic for six weeks. He or she has been dreaming things in his or her head that he or she is unable to draw on his or her piece of paper all of his or her immeasurably frustrating life. It's not incompetence, but there are, shall we say, some issues with creativity. We see before us one half-scratched pencil drawing, one limp tissue-paper model, and a thousand perfect La Tourette monasteries locked inside. You'd cry too.

    Which brings me the builder we have in the studio.

    The Builder. I just made a building. It's beautiful, and it works. What's the problem? The problem is that the jury is about to freak out. They will resent this student for not playing ball, for solving problems like a poetry-reading scientist when he or she should be suffering like a science-skimming poet””or a B-grade philosophe. By getting where everyone wants to go without jumping through the usual trendy hoops, the Builder puts the lie to the kind of gimmickry peddled by most architects of the educating class. This inadvertent rebel is our other hero.

    How do you comment on his work? A pin-up session earlier in the week, I felt the need to bluntly comment that his building was just wrong, unpleasant to look and live in it. Was I wrong for not saying anything before he gets deeper into the design and gets killed by the critic next week?

    Maybe I was. How I wish people would question my design choices too. How do other students here react to this situation? I sure it happens often, that sometimes you wish you could just say it bluntly.

    Anyway, it was a nice day here in Boston, compare to some other parts of the country where it's snowing. I'll share this view I took from the school's library. Have a good weekend. I know I won't, as I'll be up all weekend.



    • myriam

      That's a great pic. I actually spent the better part of my day working on a project that's gonna be inside what those two red cranes are building over there. Pretty exciting.

      Keep it up--I think, from what I've seen of the BAC, the lack of interrogation and discussion and encouragement to speak freely (or even at all) might be somewhat of an unfortunate byproduct of the school's premise. It also, to a good extent, depends on your particular random group of peers. In my school, my year in particular was known for our constant grilling of each other and pushing each other; despite the occasional antagonism it made for a great working environment where we were really pushed to develop ideas further. I learned a lot from my peers in those kinds of crits. Other years were not so similar.

      I would suggest talking about this subject with your immediate peers. Ask them to be bulldogs on your project. Tell them you appreciate frank discussion. If you welcome it towards yourself it might get your peers into the hang of it.

      Oct 13, 06 3:03 am

      Thanks for the advice. What project are you working on if I may ask? (Not sure if you're still a student) But I know that's the site for the Mandarin Oriental.

      Oct 13, 06 11:22 am

      Yes, you should have commented in-class

      Oct 13, 06 12:02 pm

      It is exhausting to read to your constant complaining and self-righteous BS. I realize that I only have myself to blame for reading your blog entries, but I had to chime in to put myself at peace. You should spend more time actually working, analyzing, discussing the pertinate issues relating to YOUR design growth and less time passing judgmement on your instructors and peers. You are quite bold to assume that you hold all of the answers for this person in your class. Do you really think that by blessing him/her with your comments in crit that you will save them from studio disaster? You speak of your problems expressing your designs to a jury, yet you seem to have all the answers for "The Builder". As the saying goes, sh.t or get off the pot. If you're not going to contribute in a studio envioronment then you are wasting the time of eveyone involved, and even worse, you are wasting your own time.

      Oct 27, 06 1:25 pm

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