The City College of New York (Jessica)



Aug '08 - Dec '08

  • anchor

    for archny and anyone else who's listening...

    By jlew
    Dec 30, '08 12:39 AM EST

    i haven't been on here much since early this semester, which is truly a shame seeing as i joined this blog primarily because ccny tends to keep too low a profile for my taste. yes, our website sucks. i think the projects on there date back to the first graduating m.arch class. and, for the record, those students have now been gainfully employed for almost two years now (at SOM, and workAC to name two).

    since andrew zago's departure, the program has been headed up by brad horn. he is a cooper union graduate and has taught at various architecture schools in the city - he also orchestrated everything surrounding our accreditation visit, proposed and produced ccny's first publication of student work and has continued to organize "conversations with students," an informal lecture series that was begun by andrew zago for members of the graduate program.

    the studio curriculum is as rigorous as any i can imagine, and the emphasis placed on technical versus theoretical investigation ranges depending on the studio professor. much like the program at yale, ccny prides itself on creating an environment that produces graduates that can adapt to a multitude of working environments and who have had a chance to hone their unique talents and skills. i must also say that the caliber of the history professors is quite good and a notable amount of time and effort is dedicated to serious study of historic monuments and precedents.

    perhaps our website has already given this away, but ccny does not engage in technology in a similar way to, say, columbia. we don't run or write scripts using sophisticated or even basic programs (although we got to see some interesting work in this vein during the spring '08 'conversations' series). on the other hand, familiarity with design software in general; rhino, maya, 3d max (etc, etc) is facilitated by one on one instruction when students desire it as an alternative to "just figuring it out." for me, this is more than adequate.

    i am very satisfied with ccny so far and i encourage anyone interested to come visit the studios and take a look around. my assumption is that all programs have shortcomings, depending on who you talk to, but overall my experience has been challenging, fun, practical (but not overly-so) and therefore highly rewarding. despite being the reason i chose ccny, the affordable tuition is merely the cherry on top.


    • Living in Gin

      Thanks for this blog entry... CCNY is on my lost of M.Arch. programs to apply to when the time comes. I had Brad Horn as my studio critic in the Columbia summer program last year, and he's a great guy.

      Dec 31, 08 5:26 pm
      Nicholas Brewster

      Hi Jessica,

      My name is Nicholas and I'm in the process of applying to the MArch I program at CCNY for the Fall 2010 semester. I've been trying to get a bit of inside information about student life, the workload, etc. without much luck until I came across your blog. It gave me a bit of hope as pursuing a M.A. in architecture after coming from a B.S in Computer Science seems like, to say the least, a magnificent nightmare.

      Based on your other posts it sounds like you're in the MArch I program so I think just about everything you have to say would be very relevant.

      Would you mind helping me out with some questions about CCNY and your experience with the program thus far? It would be greatly appreciated.


      Jan 5, 09 12:22 am

      Hi Nicholas,

      For starters, I wouldn't worry too much about your previous field of study. The students in my class come from backgrounds in teaching, rhetoric, philosophy, fine arts, dance, business and many other disciplines.

      The workload is pretty tremendous, but that's true everywhere I'm sure. In the first year the school requires that you take five courses per semester. It will feel like you are living in the studio, but it should also be interesting and fun.

      Just send me questions and I'll do my best to answer.

      - J

      Jan 5, 09 6:05 pm

      thank you!!! i will be applying and plan to visit, but this info is definitely appreciated, given the absence of info on the web site, etc. in what ways (if any) has the program changed since the change in leadership?

      also, what other schools were you considering when you applied?

      every school has room for improvement. in your opinion, what improvements do you think ccny should make?

      sorry for so many questions! :)

      Jan 11, 09 11:16 am
      Nicholas Brewster

      Hi Jessica,

      Hope all is well. I've been monitoring the discussion "Entry Level Architects" concerning employment at:
      So far it's very interesting.

      I visited CCNY a few months back and was told by an adviser that students were getting jobs through diversifying their skills but she didn't give very specific examples.

      What are your thoughts on employment after graduation? I intend to start in 2010 and hopefully graduate in 2013. I've seen salary surveys, etc. about pay levels of recently graduated Architecture students but never heard anything from someone I actually knew. Others are saying they're going months and over a year without employment due to inexperience after graduating, what are your views on this?


      Jan 11, 09 7:10 pm


      glad to hear you will be applying.
      i applied to all of the programs in new york; columbia, parsons, pratt and ccny and also to risd.
      it's hard to know exactly how to answer your room for improvement question, because i think some of the annoying things about ccny are also the things that make it accessible and affordable. if you received your undergraduate education in a private institution that is well-funded and organized (as i did), i think you may be struck (as i was) by the difference of being in a public university. seeing as the program is still in its infancy, it's a little too soon to know how things will pan out, but i think the location, the tuition and the talented faculty are all factors that will contribute to its growth and success.
      in terms of the program having changed, i'm not the best person to ask, as i only enjoyed one term under the direction of andrew zago. i am aware of some changes that i believe were prompted by the accreditation visit, one of which was the appointment of dedicated faculty for the graduate department. previously, most of the studio critics had been visiting practitioners or professors.

      - j

      Jan 12, 09 1:33 am


      thanks for the link to the entry level discussion. that is some scary stuff, especially as i am spending my january break painting my apartment and cleaning out my parents basement - not exactly helpful in terms of getting more hands on architecture experience.

      it isn't easy to hold down an internship while going through this program, but i know some people who are doing it. i also know some students who spent their winter and summer breaks traveling and seeing firsthand many of the important buildings we have studied. while that is definitely cool and i wish i could travel too, i think the contacts you make during grad school are your best bet for finding employment after graduation so it pays to get out there and work - even if it is for very little pay at this point. (i worked last january doing retail design and over the summer for an institutional/residential design firm, but working on the cityworks book and TA-ing this semester really wore me out) by the way, i get totally annoyed when companies think they are doing you a favor by hiring you and therefore don't need to pay you. this is absolutely inappropriate, particularly for grad students who in many cases have years and years of valid work experience in other fields and are capable of doing much much more than fetching coffee and sharpening pencils. i personally have no intention of working for zero dollars. even in hard times, employers should be able to cough up $10 or $15 bucks an hour for eager, hardworking interns.

      what adviser did you meet with? i don't know what she meant by students "diversifying their skills." i'll have to ask around.

      - j

      Jan 12, 09 2:00 am
      Nicholas Brewster

      Thanks for the feedback. I spoke with Sarah Morales on my initial visit. I also came in for a second visit and spoke with a male, spanish, undergrad faculty member. I think he's in the same room as Sarah Morales. The information they both gave was very helpful.

      Do you know if all incoming undergrads take the same exact courses or do the courses change ever so often, what about the course schedules? I ask because I'd like to start compiling a book list for my first year, acquire the books and hopefully start reading ahead so that I'm not bogged down with reading once the semester begins.

      What type of expenses or cost did you run into during your first year besides tuition and books? I ask because as per the adviser it would be best not to work at least during the first year, so I'm trying to get an accurate cost of what it would cost for the first year, and maybe the 2nd and 3rd as well.


      Jan 12, 09 8:31 am
      Nicholas Brewster

      Hi again,

      If you don't mind me asking:

      Did you have any previous experience in Art, Drawing, or Architecture prior to attending CCNY?

      Personally how do you think you did on your portfolio submission?

      CCNY states that a year of Calculus and Physics are required, is that knowledge generally required for each course or only specific courses?

      What are the hardest courses you've taken so far?

      What do you and your classmates/group do for fun (as it sounds like everyone lives there)?

      Do you spend lots of time with your classmates/group outside of the studio? Would that be a normal thing?

      Do you or have you ever used (at least) CAD 2000, Revit, 3ds Max or Sketch Up during a course, during a presentation, for homework, for research purposes, at all?


      Jan 12, 09 3:12 pm

      I majored in architecture and dance at a liberal arts college a number of years ago. I have taken art classes for most of my life - painting, printmaking, drawing, etc and I worked as an art director for an advertising agency before applying to grad school. my portfolio contained a handful of print advertisements that i created, some scanned architectural drawings from undergrad, a photo collage, a sketch of a random building i saw while traveling abroad and one or two other random sketches. i know it was all over the place, but i tried to get as much in there as i could because that's likely what the school is relying upon most heavily in order to make their determination.

      luckily, i had taken physics in undergrad (twice actually, since i failed the first time) so i only had to take calculus before starting the program. i took it at pace, which is ridiculously expensive, but the professor was really great.

      studio is always the hardest course. second to that i'd say the structures series has been pretty tough (having the most to do with physics which, as i mentioned before, is not a subject i grasp easily).

      i have amazing classmates and we often hang out outside of school. many of us have significant others at home so balancing can be tricky, but we try to go out together and let loose when we can, particularly when things in the studio get really stressful. in any given year, i'd say there are at least a handful of students who get along well and hang out off campus. most people come together on campus for lectures, dinners and our conversations series.

      i have used autocad almost every day since the third or fourth week of first year, i messed around with sketch-up for one studio project but decided i didn't like it, i sometimes build models in rhino and although i haven't used it, some of my classmates have rendered in 3-d max. so far no one i know is working with revit.

      hope this helps!
      - j

      Jan 13, 09 12:09 am

      sorry - i forgot you had asked about book lists and expenses.
      this is going to sound really bad, but i don't remember reading anything i was supposed to read in first year. there was never any time! i think maybe there was a history textbook but i don't even know if i bought it. there was definitely a gigantic textbook for materials/methods of construction but it's mostly good for reference.

      i spent the most on supplies in the first few months of school - i decided to get a new laptop and then spent a bunch of money on lamps and a mayline for drawing as well as lead holders, lead, pens, trace, a good cutting knife, blades, wood, plaster, good paper for drawing, etc, etc, etc. minus the computer i'd say i spent about a thousand dollars by the time december rolled around. now that i have all the basics, i tend to spend a few hundred dollars (depending on what kinds of models i'm making) per semester.


      Jan 13, 09 12:23 am
      Nicholas Brewster

      Great. Thanks for all the insight and help. I'll add Rhino to my list of software to research. Does CCNY provide a student discount rate for autocad or any other software? Is one set of software preferred or recommended by your instructors?

      In reference to books, you had a background in Architecture so it may have been easy for you to skip a basic history book... or two. However I get the impression that each class had AT MOST one book per class? Is this correct? I'm budgeting for $1500/semester between supplies & books.

      Also, are any of these books on your book list:

      "Ten Books Every Architect Should Read"

      Jessica thanks again. The additional information you've provided more or less allows me to complete my initial research on CCNY and it's MArch I program.

      Jan 13, 09 8:52 am

      ha! the idea that ccny might assist us with software in any way just made me crack up. i don't know for sure about other schools, but i'd guess none of them do either. don't worry too much about that, you'll be able to get what you need when you need it.

      some classes had more than one book, some had none. again, i wouldn't worry too much about getting a head start on this. your budget seems pretty accurate though.

      btw - i don't think that article 'ten books' in any way corresponds to an architect's education. i think the author's point was that great works of fiction can be inspirational for how effective they are at creating a world (or an architecture) of their own.

      i wish you the best of luck in the application process.

      - jessica

      Jan 13, 09 9:42 pm

      Jessica - Any way you could post the Spring 09 lectures on your blog. I saw a poster a week ago and they looked good, but I didn't jot them down. And of course the CCNY Arch web site is showing last year's lectures. Many thanks! - john

      Jan 29, 09 9:12 pm

      hi jessica,

      i start in the fall, and i was curious about a few things: in regards to the technology issue, am i better off with a desktop or laptop? does the school recommend pc's over macs? which do you prefer? which did you buy?

      when were you allowed to register for fall classes? it's already may and i have neither heard nor received any information about this. did you have to meet with the grad advisor beforehand?



      May 4, 09 6:21 pm

      angelsjule78 -
      congratulations! i look forward to meeting you in the fall.
      i work on a mac laptop and run my pc software through parallels. i've been pretty happy with that. you're going to want a laptop, since you will be doing 99% of your work in studio.
      i can't remember exactly what the registration process is for incoming students. you don't have any choice about your classes, the schedule is set for you until your fourth semester, but you should check in with sara morales who is the grad advisor. she can register you over the phone and then all you have to do is pay your bill.
      get some rest this summer. you're going to need it!

      May 16, 09 10:56 pm

      Hello Jessica

      Thanks for all the information is the blog!! this is better than the actual CCNY web page!

      I have only one question for you

      Now that you are inside CCNY, do you recommend the school, especially the Master program to students that are planning to do their master at CCNY?

      i will appreciate your comments.


      Nov 18, 10 4:54 pm

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