UC Berkeley (Nick)



Aug '08 - Jun '10

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    schedule anxiety and thesis strategies

    Nick Sowers
    Sep 3, '08 1:23 AM EST

    Leaving behind the "summer of good intentions" it is clear that there is work ahead. A lot of work. I realized at the beginning last fall that grad school is complete and utter surrender. What exactly it is that you must capitulate to is uncertain. The only certainty is that you will sacrifice many things (and if you are married, the sacrifice is only more so).

    I feel an urgency to this project, a craving to find out as much as I can about what it means to be an architect now, and in the future, and so I'm willing to dive in. The deeper I get into this thing, though, the more I see that it's about shedding my old self and stepping into a new one... It's a sacrifice, but one that will ultimately pay off.

    So what is there to be anxious about, ye who is filled with optimism? What else, there's just never enough time in one day, though it may seem rather open:


    the reality is that the schedule is tight, really tight given that every waking moment I should be working on the thesis. I learned from an option 1 friend of mine who graduated last year that a good strategy for thesis is to weave in as many of your seminars as possible into the project. Naturally, you will only take seminars that you are interested in, but you have to curb some of those interests or figure out ways to tie in the most interesting seminar work or else you might short-change your thesis research.

    So my strategy is as follows: everything will feed centripetally into the thesis prep class (which is thankfully going to be a lot of design work as our advisers recognize that design is research)

    First, I am going to use my sound art course as a productive studio, producing sound recordings and instruments that will investigate space, atmosphere, and form. We'll be making our own microphones, speakers, and possibly scripting w/ SuperCollider to generate digital sound from a set of environmentally alterable variables.

    Next from center, my theory class, Contested Spaces of Global Culture has got me totally revved up. Among an assortment of themes (brandspace, spectacle, migration, disaster capitalism) I am especially looking forward to two weeks in the seminar which will deal with the notion of "Battlefield: Violence, Fear and Urban space". The reading is heavy and good (Harvey will be the guiding light). I plan to write a paper about the battlefield category which feeds very much into my thesis.

    image (source: Eyal Weizman, NY Times)

    The off-site fabrication course is, I think, more of a way to keep my feet on the ground, as we will be going out to visit fabrication shops and look more at the practical side of things. I'm interested in the Bay Area's longtime entanglement between the pre-fab/off-site fabrication industry and military technology/development. Not sure if I will get around to that in this seminar.

    Finally, the course on Modern Poetry is more to provide a provocative atmosphere for understanding modernism, tradition, and simply, how to read the seeming gibberish of the radical early modern poets. And a chance to take a breather from Wurster Hall. A lot of people say they wish they were taking a course outside of the architecture/planning school, and I don't want to be one of them.


    • Interesting stuff. Sounds like you have a lot of angles to approach your thesis from. There was a great essay in a recent-ish Log on battlefield architecture. Some awesome ideas that made me hungry for a project on it myself.

      Sep 4, 08 2:02 pm  · 

      the thing I've found is that even when you think you're taking an 'outside' class, you'll find a way to make it all feed into the black hole that is thesis. Good luck!

      Sep 6, 08 6:49 am  · 

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