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    Third Quarter Review, the General Housing Ambience, and Black Bears!

    By mikilee
    Nov 8, '06 10:58 PM EST

    Hello again, after a bit of an absence. Today was our third quarter review, and it's interesting to see how projects are evolving now, as the final review grows near. It's been a very emotional semester for some, having to deal with difficult partnerships or personal disasters, all the while trying to face the day and make something out of being here. The general air carries with it waves of fatigue and possibility, after memories of first year-boot camp have now settled. I myself feel ready again to hit the ground running again, after stepping back from all the delirium. Now I think I know what I want to do.

    Our studio projects are a mixture of 'large megabuildings' and 'small scale, but highly networked interventions' as a response to building housing for a population of 1500 people. In our project, we're developing a distributed system of housing for 1500 people through the identification of specific social, educational, health, and other human needs, which we will pricetag with certain social values. By looking at housing as 'value-added,' we're going to explore political issues at stake when different stakeholders gain control over and access to this social value system. Who gets to add value? (The architect? The client? Pfizer? The Department of Health?) How can values be marketed, to promote social change, and who is the audience these values can be marketed towards? What are today's system of values, explicit in architecture, and what do people anticipate architecture gives us? (Ie. pretty buildings, social advancement medals through fancy finishes + subzero refrigerators)... How can the architect, and students of architecture, change these expectations?

    As much as I am tempted, through the traditional beauty of the discipline, to become a starchitect, (I would get to have a harem of husbands around the world, get to tell really highly-creative, and brilliant people beneath me what to do and pay them very little, and generally have no responsibility for my emotional temper tantrums), I think it would maybe be a greater benefit to society to become a social consultant. I want people to look up to me as a fellow peer, willing to work with people unlike myself, and learn from them the game of give and take, and participate, in politics and the economy.

    Okay. On a different, but equally important note, I took a really nice break from studio and went to a resort this weekend in NJ with some friends of mine from studio. We visited Warwick Vineyards, drank wine, cooked a massive dinner and chatted about life and what we want from work, and love. We saw a 12 foot tall Black Bear rummaging through a garbage bin in the parking lot of our condo. Incidentally, I freaked out because I was nearby our car and an open trunkful of freshly-bought groceries. We all survived. We hiked a mountainous trail in a state park, then swam outside in a heated pool looking up at the blue sky above us. I highly recommend all architect students to take breaks, to step back, to try to include humanity and communication, and to respect others and the world around them, and to listen to what is going on. Only outside of the bubble do things get interesting. That's all for now.


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