Kent State University (Micah)



Sep '09 - Feb '12

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    Micah McKelvey
    Feb 5, '11 1:41 AM EST

    Wowww, in true school blogger fashion I completely dropped the ball on posting last semester.

    However, if I may formulate an excuse, I knew if I tried I wouldn't post anything other than cynical, jaded rants...and regret them later. For my devout readers to be brought up to speed...there isn't much I can say other than last semester downright sucked. Because of the workload across all classes, coming back to kent after a semester in Italy, the real world mentalities of the fourth year faculty, and the less-than-compelling studio design prompts, I was completely uninspired and unmotivated for studio....the only course on my schedule that, in the past, I could count on to make me believe this degree was worth it. Out of frustration and spiraling into depression I underperformed and while I fully admit my faults and take responsibility for them, I had to appeal the final grade that was given to me in order to progress on to this semester. Now that all of that is behind me, things are much clearer (as always) in retrospect and I'm excited to finish on a strong note for my last semester of my undergraduate career at Kent State.


    Unluckily for us all in fourth year, that last semester I speak of is known as the Integrated Design Competition. For undergrads, it's the culmination of everything we've been taught here, integrating what we've learned in the Methods & Materials, Environmental Technology, and Structures courses with the Design Studio. The end goal is to have a project with all necessary systems designed in what would be required to literally construct a building to code specifications. We are expected in the end to have a complete set of construction documents explaining everything from foundations to electrical wiring, door schedules to beam connections. I feel as though this sort of approach to the design studio is more rare than common, so maybe it will be of some interest to someone.

    Side note: If any reader happens to be a prospective student with an undergraduate non-architecture degree and wishes to pursue a master's in architecture at Kent, then you too will be lucky enough to fulfill this course through the accelerated post-undergrad + masters of architecture accredited degree program. We currently have 3(?) students in this semester's studio in this situation. Once they complete this semester (the culmination of two years at Kent so far), they will be prepared to pursue their master's degree to be completed in one year plus a summer. I however will be pursuing my master's degree at another institution (still undecided where and for what exactly) after what I hope will be a fruitful year away from school.

    As far as how I feel about this project, I've been dreading it since the day I first heard about it. And with how much it was hyped by the fourth year faculty last semester, I was convinced that if I had known what I know now when I was choosing schools, I would have opted to get my degree elsewhere. I don't know if I feel that way today...but I have been up and down (to extremes) over the past 5 months concerning my devotion to becoming an architect...and actually building things. I'm now trying to view the attempted “reality” of this project as a challenge rather than a mute button for creativity.

    Because of the scale of what's being asked of us this semester, the IDC project is completed in teams of two. My project partner, Chris Schoenlein and I will be updating this blog every week with our experience (from this point on!), hopefully allowing you all to see what happens when two architecture students are forced to take an approach to a design studio project that hits way too close to reality.

    photos: chris schoenlein. top; me being depressed in studio. bottom; tri towers is the location of the fourth year studio.


    • Christoph Sch[o]nlein

      " Good flip bro."

      Feb 5, 11 7:10 pm  · 


      I understand the frustration with the semester following the Italy experience. I and many others in my class went through the reality check when we returned for the fall. Thankfully, I had a great studio prof who pushed us (unfortunately he left after that semester). He also had us make a portfolio to change things up.

      The course load during that semester at Kent is really tough. With ET, structures, and Methods that is enough work to begin with, then throwing studio on top is just torturous. You should feel very pleased to have made it through. That semester has destroyed many strong people.

      As for the IDC project, it is hard, and you will feel overworked and just tired all of the time, but it will be worth it. As much as you are trying to fight reality as a student, you have to come to it sooner or later. For it to be the last project is better than not knowing at all. Kent State is one of the few schools that does this project, and that is why when you show that project to a prospective employer or grad school you will hear accolades.

      As boring as it may seem, knowing how to put a set of construction documents together is one of the most beneficial things you can do. You can be the best designer and be able to create the most realistic or artistic renderings, but if you cannot document how it is built, then what is the point.

      This project will test your abilities and your toughness. As long as you have chosen a teammate that compliments your strengths. I wish you the best of luck. By the way, who is your prof?

      Feb 9, 11 2:56 pm  · 

      i'm not trying to fight reality...just trying to challenge convention. many of the profs here think convention = reality, which is fine when getting the round picture of what building buildings is really all about. BUT convention is the opposite of innovation, which the academic studio should be founded on. anyway...i'm excited for the challenge.

      and my professor is joe ferut.

      Feb 11, 11 1:32 pm  · 

      I've typed something pretty extensive in this box and deleted it 4 different times. Each time was not so cynical as the previous....but here goes.

      Micah; I agree with your views on the project. Tim, I don't see it in as glamorous a light as you do. Not to say that it isn't valuable information, but I think there's way way way more 'doing' than there is 'learning.' I'm still pushing for IDC to stay but with some extensive updating reform.

      It looks like you're "getting it" though; based on your most recent post. That's pretty much the deal. Get what you can and what you want out of it.

      Feb 14, 11 4:45 pm  · 

      jake: and i agree, serious reform is vital, but unfortunately i don't see it going that way with the new faculty and direction they seem to be taking on the whole.

      we had mid term reviews wednesday (still getting around to posting) and prof ferut said some really encouraging things about how he views the project. namely, if he sees column lines on any of our plans, he'll immediately fail us (lawlz).

      i think we've been tentative with our design still, so hopefully that's reason for us to rethink our approach a is getting a bit late in the game.

      Feb 18, 11 4:30 pm  · 

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