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    Week 2: Reading, Lots of Reading

    Phillip Crosby
    Sep 13, '08 1:24 PM EST

    My first full week at school is now wrapping up. If you remember, I had one class that began last Thursday, with my other three classes kicking off this Tuesday. After being out of school for five years, Tuesday was at least a little bit overwhelming. Here's a (relatively) brief recap...

    7:00am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.
    7:09am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze again.
    7:18am: Alarm goes off. Actually get out of bed and into the shower.
    7:45am: Walk the dogs.
    8:00am: Breakfast. Watch some SportsCenter
    8:30am: Out the door. Walk to El station.
    8:55am: Walk onto campus. Sit at bench and log onto wireless network.
    9:00am: Check email, read morning headlines and Archinect.

    10:00am-1:00pm: Writing on Architecture (Rybcynksi)
    This class seems like it should be pretty interesting. We're going to be looking at a variety of different styles of writing including polemical, critical, professional, literary, and academic. There will be a series of short writings throughout the semester culminating in a 3,500 word paper on a building of our choosing. We spent the majority of the class comparing two lists of buildings. One was the list put together by the AIA last year of the public's 150 favorite american buildings. The other was a list of "important" american buildings created by a survey architects. The lists were strikingly different and we discussed possible reasons why.

    1:00pm-2:30pm: Architectural Research (Leatherbarrow)
    This class is made up of the Ph.D and M.S. students as well as a few other post-professional degree students. Each year this class has a specific topic around which all of the discussions will revolve. This year's theme is Architecture and the Natural World: Theory, History, Technique. Every other week there will be a guest lecturer and subsequent discussion about how the guest's current research relates to the theme. There will also be two round-table discussions during the semester in which we will get to pit professor v. professor. So that should be fun. David framed the topic in terms of its relationship to landscape urbanism, generative models, ecology, and sustainability. The output for this class will include writing short synopses of the presentations, a lexicon of terms (more on this later), and a 5,000 word paper. I'm really looking forward to this class for several reasons. First, it will give me an opportunity to get to know my fellow Ph.D. students. Second, it will give me a chance to dig deeper into the topics that I'm interested in. Finally, it is held in the rare books room and we get an opportunity to see some really cool stuff. For example, this week David showed us an original copy of Tony Garnier's Une Cite Industrielle. I've seen reproductions of the drawings, but they don't hold a candle to the real thing. (Note: normally this class will last until 4:00pm, but we got out early today)

    2:30pm: Grab a quick bite to eat.
    3:30pm: Meet briefly with Helene Furjan to discuss what I'll be helping her out with as a research assistant.
    4:00pm: Hang out at the Fisher Fine Arts Library to do a little reading.

    6:00pm-9:00pm: Seminar on Urban Studies (Katz)
    At first this class seemed a little intimidating, mostly because it is not within the School of Design, so it is a little bit out of my comfort zone. But that is also one of my main reasons for taking it. I think that it will be good for me to see how other people and disciplines are looking at urban issues. Probably, about half of the class are in the education school. The rest are in history, anthropology, city planning, and a few other disciplines. I am the only architect. This is a two-semester long class and it will be pretty intense. The first semester is a lot of reading, six short papers about the reading, a few presentations in class, and the preparation of a research proposal for next semester. The proposal takes the form of a 2,500 word paper and the major paper for next semester will be about 10,000 words.
    9:30pm: Home to grab a bite of dinner and then relax a bit.

    The rest of the week
    Wednesday, I went in to read in the library. I also picked out my study carrel, which will be my home away from home, and my locker in the Ph.D. student "lounge".

    Thursday, I had my landscape theory class in the morning. During the discussion portion of the class we were talking about which designer we had chosen to write about. At least 75% (including myself) of the class had chosen West 8, so I'm debating whether to change to someone else or not. The rest of the day I spent in the library reading.

    Friday, I stayed home to read. Saturday, I've been reading and now I'm taking a break for lunch and blogging.

    Here's a list of all of my readings for this week. It averages about 100 pages per class:

    architectural research
    David Leatherbarrow, “Architecture’s Unscripted Performance”
    Luis Fernandez-Galiano, Fire and Memory
    Paul Ricoeur, “Objectivity and Subjectivity in History”

    urban studies
    Michael Katz, “The Death of Shorty”
    Michael Katz, “What Is An American City?”
    Michael Katz, “Why Don’t American Cities Burn Very Often?”
    Brookings Institute, “Metro Policy: Shaping a New Federal Partnership for a Metropolitan Nation”

    landscape theory
    Christophe Girot, “Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture”
    Sebastian Marot, “The Reclaiming of Sites”
    Elizabeth Meyer, “Site Citations: The Grounds of Modern Landscape Architecture”

    writing on architecture
    William Safire, “Defenestration”
    Louis Menand, “Comp Time”
    Witold Rybczynski, “The Glossies”
    Witold Rybczynski, “The Art of Building, or the Building of Art?”

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