An open question: What policies have schools implemented (if any) to validate that student's digital work was produced by one student. Is the Honor Code still the enforcing authority? Has anyone witnessed students being more readily able to "farm out" their work now that its digital and hand craftsmanship and authorship is harder to discern? Discuss...

Mar 18, 11 2:00 pm

Getting help with your project is hardly cheating. At the end of the day you still have to defend your ideas, and a bunch of polished renderings will not help you mask a crappy project.

Kind of like in real life!

Mar 18, 11 2:37 pm
wurdan freo

If I was smart... when I was in school I would have farmed out most of my work. What is wrong with that? As rusty points out - the student still has to defend the ideas.

Schools spend to much time focusing on individual achievement, IMO. Would be much better time spent teaching how to work collaboratively. If two students share a cad file for a detail assignment, who cares. Not much different than cut and paste which is pretty typical in most offices.

Mar 18, 11 3:09 pm
On the fence

It's what we do as architects anyways.

He should be given extra credit for learning it early.

Mar 18, 11 3:36 pm
vado retro

i did a lot of things in school that were totally appropriated. whether it was in a ceramics class where i took all the pieces i used out of a slurry tank of discards by the real artist potters. also, i did so many collages in architecture school. frankly, most of these computer graphics that i am seeing in school look so much the same that i am sure faculty and critics would rather see something not created on a computer.

Mar 18, 11 3:46 pm

I think it's called collaboration, these days.

Mar 18, 11 4:27 pm

as long as your ideas are better than the renderings, i doubt its a problem unless you blatantly lie and say you did the production work yourself

It would be tough if you are up in a presentation and they are all super impressed with your presentation, but not really the ideas behind it

You probably would need to make sure you are allowed to "collaborate" in that regard, since particular classes might have specific requirements

I was always annoyed at say, the frat brothers who would get their pledges to do their model making. It wasnt because they were so consumed with their design and theory and made it so amazing, it was mainly because they could and were a touch lazy.

Most studios and presentation requirements i would imagine are set up to be one person's amount of work. So you better have something pretty spectacular if you are going to be having other people do the production

Mar 18, 11 4:56 pm
job job

Having others help you in your student work is fine - having others substantially design and develop for you is lame. Stealing work wholesale (collage is exempt) and claiming it as yours is wrong.

Regardless, I hope you aren't feeling the need to police others out of spite, and coming around here for validation. That's lame +.

Mar 18, 11 5:07 pm

this is a pet peeve of mine. to each his own, but i do not like this approach.

I am very much in favor of collaboration and think it is often the best way to work. i am a fan of collages, mash-ups, exquisite corpses, and found-object studies. i also think it is a good idea to work efficiently and avoid getting needlessly mired in the intractable. but when collaborating, credit has to be given when appropriate --- work done by others should be referenced as such.

on the other hand, appropriating ideas/designs/drawings/models, passing off another's work as one's own, lifting pieces and ideas almost directly out of case studies,etc, raises a serious question in my mind - in all other fields it is called plagiarism - and i wonder about the intellectual curiosity and motivation of the person --- if it means that little to you, then why bother --- you could take all of that intellect and do something much more lucrative instead of wasting it hocking stolen ideas in a low-paying profession which few respect anyway

i have heard the famous quote about, "the good ones copy and the great ones steal" --- and strongly disagree

Mar 18, 11 5:26 pm

this is a pet peeve of mine. but my comment was too harsh. i hope i have not offended any of you. if so, i apologize.

rather, i'll say this: i just do not understand why anyone would want to borrow or cheat or steal or copy. i don't understand where the fun is in doing so.

Mar 18, 11 5:46 pm

"the good ones copy and the great ones steal" - I love that quote! Probably the quote I hold onto the most (in this arena).

BUT that is because too many designers/architects think that they are 100% original and don't want to "borrow" ideas or solutions.

Too many think that they are so great that they can come up with everything on their own, without looking at others work, studying it, understanding it, for fear that it will "pollute" their work.

The best way to become a good designer is to study the best. Those that you study, studied the best when they were learning, so on and so on.

Really, I think the world would be a prettier place if people understood and embraced this a little more. So many just dive in and think that what they create is just wonderful.

Nothing, and no one, is ever truly pure or original.

That's what it means to me, and as was introduced in Studio 1.

Mar 18, 11 7:29 pm
olaf design ninja

Half the reason, or wait the main reason, architects make so little is "we" think our ideas are worth paying for. Whatever.

So developing actual skills to get your ideas produced in real life or sold is important, otherwise why waste 5 years or more on an intense education, when you could go and get into real estate and if money was handy developing.

By the time you are 5th year or something nothing wrong with out sourcing all your production work, because at that point it really is about your ideas and critical thinking on the subject matter. We'd assume you proved yourself in the formative years.

Furthermore, building chip board models is for monkeys and I always thought that was a bad sign for trying to get paid what you are worth as a professional. I would sure as hell never pay a registered architect 200 an hour to play with glue and paper, that's for children or interns...

I can tell when someone copy pastes and it usually obvious in their limited architecure designs. Not saying you should re invent a GWB MTL stud wall every time you use one, but you should at least know the difference between purple board, green board, blue board, cement board, type X or C and XP etc...

Mar 18, 11 8:37 pm

One of my schools just instituted a new honor code. The short version is that faculty must fail you if they suspect that you cheated, including turning work that you did not make without a citation, and that if two faculty do so you cannot continue.

Mar 18, 11 10:40 pm
St. George's Fields

I'd just like to plug this story-- "The Shadow Scholar" from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Found here.

I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.

That's from the essayist who apparently "cheats" on behalf of students as a ghostwriter. And it's an absolutely clever loophole to academic codes of honesty-- unless your school's policy is similar to mespellrong.

However, many professors, doctorate students and other students can enlist the help of others as "research assistants" who primarily do the dirty work of others. So, if faculty can outsource their own work... why can't students?

As long as you're crystal clear that not 100% percent of the work is not yours.

The larger problem here is that universities are suppose to be meritocracies . If someone is doing your work for you, if it is absolutely great work, then that person should be technically earning the degree that your project or dissertation earned you.

Mar 18, 11 11:22 pm
St. George's Fields

On the opinion side, I do believe higher education should be a little more collaborative.

Very few people these days do little work at the top of a totalitarian pyramid-scheme-type organization-- CEOs still have to answer to stockholders and sole proprietors are subservient to their accountants and lawyers.

Perhaps the purest form of totalitarian regimes only exists in lemonade stands.

Mar 18, 11 11:31 pm

this discussion sounds polemical, casting a person who does not subscribe to appropriating others work as engaged in a misguidedly struggle, trying to be a lone genius perpetually reinventing the wheel. this is an oversimplification of the opposing viewpoint

case study research is valid. collaboration is essential, as is understanding standard means, methods & trends. but giving credit where due is very important, as is bringing something unique.

if i were a client and realized that my designer was recycling someone else's work, i would think, 'why do i need said designer, i'll go find the person who figured this out or who was able to execute this?' creative problem solving is an essential skill, especially in areas of practice where unique challenges do arise.

the value of doing things for oneself in school is that it is deliberate practice time - it is a time to build creative problem solving capacity - seeing this as silly or superfluous would be like thinking that athletes or musicians are wasting their time practicing because they could just be playing the game/music instead --- there is a whole research literature on the value of deliberate practice --- it is essential to becoming highly skilled --- school is a period of deliberate practice for architects ----- but also, in the real world, when people can't think beyond standard solutions, on the fly, it is a liability in certain forms of professional practice --- sometimes decomposing problems to first principles and then generating solutions based upon those first principles is necessary

Mar 19, 11 1:43 am

the problem is (and I think we are just mincing words, without real examples we are just debating theoretical points, you probably have one project in mind, I have another, etc.) that people rehash one way or another. Look around us - it is rehashed crap.

When I try to give design advice, the first thing I'll say is go look at what is "good", understand "why" and "how" it is good, then go back to your project. 99.9% of the time, by the time a design is done, it will be your "own" and nothing is borrowed, copied or stolen.

I think people copy more ugly crap from their drive to studio or work than anyone really wants to admit, just look around the built world. That's not originality out there, it is copied crap!

Obviously everyone has to do their own work, create their own solutions, I assume that is a given if you are in a design studio. But everyone, in every profession, should recognize, understand and keep up with the "best" in their fields. So many architects and designers think that they don't need to, that their solutions are always just great and rarely strive to become better.

Just my 2cents. This is applicable to any visually creative field.

Mar 19, 11 8:58 am

Would a math major "farm out" his problem sets and feel that he or she has accomplished any learning? Would a law student get paralegals to read through his cases and believe she has fully understood the case? How often some of these excuses become legit only because we are architecture student? The issue here is not whether collaboration or assistance is correct from a professional or educational standpoint. When it is part of the pedagogy it can work well. The matter is honesty and honor and the moral code of students. If it is expected that a student is responsible for both the content and production of their own work, there is no justification for that student not doing anything other than their own work. In that case it becomes lying and has public effects on the others in their studio.

Mar 21, 11 9:19 am

Maestro: horrible analogies.

It's more like a CS major farming out the time it takes to run a complex algorithm.
It would be ridiculous to state that such a student could only use his own computer for calculating complex sets once he has the algorithm coded.

A trained monkey can make cardboard models.
A better trained monkey can make pretty renderings.

Mar 21, 11 9:51 am

trace, i see your point. i guess we are describing two sides of the same issue --- mincing words, as you said. whether you work from first principles and validate against the known or start by copying the known but work it until it becomes one's own are two ways to accomplish the same goal.

Mar 21, 11 10:02 am
vado retro

the downside of this is, of course, that you will be hired based on a portfolio of graphics that the person who is hiring you cannot do. once you drop the bomb that "oh yes I hired someone to do those renderings" it'll be..."Don't call us we'll call you."

Mar 21, 11 12:32 pm

for a just graduated portfolio looking for his first job, it better be loud and clear if someone else did your renderings, because a lot of times you are hired for that type of skill set, not your "oh so amazing design that you were too busy to do your own renderings"

it will be a rude wake up call if you are hired and expected to produce similar production level work that you didnt even bother to do in college

Mar 21, 11 1:00 pm

...and let me just say...

making things, whether models, drawings, renderings or the real thing is NOT just mindless labor that 'trained monkeys' can do

that is the arrogance too many architects have --- models and renderings are first and foremost design and analysis tools, not just representation tools, and buildings are not software or algorithms, they are real physical, functional, performance-oriented, dynamic entities, and that entails different constraints and opportunities than creating software, art or literature

yes, some final renderings and final models are mere representations, and yes usually we hire out professional artists or model makers to construct these, or keep such professionals on staff --- but with respect to design, we use renderings (especially now with how easy and fast they are to crank out) and models (especially now with how fast they are to make with laser cutters) to think through them about design --- for architects, they are tools for concept exploration first and foremost.

if you are telling me that your only understanding of models and renderings is as sexy representation that are generated as artifacts after you, the 'designer,' grace the world with your knowledge and perspective demonstrated through your wonderful sketchup or revit or rhino or max models or paper sketches, , then i would say you've missed something fundamental about the use of different media for design explorations or your work is not that challenging

if you understand the role these tools play in the design process, not as mere representation tools but as ways to think through design issues, then it will be clear to you why deliberate practice with these tools while in school is important, both to develop basic competencies and to learn to use them to help you think about design issues --- then you won't see engaging in such activities as wasted time, as beneath you


...also let me say...

people who make things aren't just trained monkeys either, dependent upon your wisdom and creativity for guidance

my first job out of arch school, by choice, was working in a steel shop.....often we could have saved time, money, and achieved the 'intent' of the design better than if we just 'made work' what the architects drew up ---- but few wanted the input

throwing around concepts and letting others 'make them work' is not design --- especially when the concepts are so out of touch that the people 'making it work' have to account for all of your lack of design sensibility by over-designing what is really going on underneath.

i remember one project where the architect wanted to express 'lightness' by having a very deep third story deck hang 'effortlessly' from the building

to do so, the architect and engineer came up with this idea for a massive rigid moment frame embedded in the walls of the house carrying these massive tube steel supports that jutted out to support this balcony to make it look like it was floating --- all of this structure and design effort to support 1 balcony!

our senior designer redesigned it so that it: a) did not require a massive steel moment frame embedded in the walls of the house for support; b) was much cheaper to build; c) looked as effortlessly light as the architect had specified and worked with the rest of the design; d) actually 'embodied' the lightness the architect was content to just 'express'

the architect was not interested --- addressing the reality of what his/her design meant, the fact that it was diametrically opposite of the vision being offered, and in the process massively inefficient, was not seen as a concern but a challenge to authority

knowing something about doing --- or at least coming off the pedestal to listen to those who do know something about doing is very important --- and will make anyone a better designer

Mar 22, 11 5:53 pm
olaf design ninja

Steel fabrication and chip board models, not same level
Monkees do chip board, seriously.

Mar 22, 11 9:10 pm

fluxbond: you seem to deny the role of craftsmanship and authorship here. Yes using a room of computers to run an algorithm may be efficient, but using a third party to do your school work is wrong and not the same situation. Architects don't live off of good ideas, but of what they produce with them. A lot has been said about being able to articulate your ideas when the work is not yours. But I am also interested in knowing if the school or the instructor has a responsibility to see if the honor code is being followed as a measure of fairness to all the students. It's like Rodney Dangerfield getting NASA to do his astronomy homework in "Back to School". Its one thing to have underclassmen help with some production for your thesis presentation, its another to have the guys in your office do your renderings and plans when you are so behind in studio and need to meet a deadline.

Mar 22, 11 9:54 pm
wurdan freo


What would donald judd do? or Peter Ballantine for that matter?

outsource... carry on.

Fairness is about as subjective a word as normal.

Mar 23, 11 4:58 pm

I still havent heard of a good reason why someone in school, who is supposed to be learning, would feel they are above producing their own final product

School is where you are supposed to learn your craft, and has been mentioned already, there is plenty in the design process that also includes production

Mar 24, 11 9:15 am
wurdan freo

Maybe in school you realize that, "I'm not a very good designer, but I still want to be an architect and work in the architecture field. Maybe I should be learning how to put a project together even though I won't be the lead designer." Assembling an office and getting the work done in spite of your weaknesses is pretty damn important to learn. And something most schools will not cover what so ever. If the sole purpose of going to school is to learn how to be a cad monkey then I agree with all the other points here. Production of a good idea does not have to be an individual effort and rarely is. Why we cling to this romantic notion is beyond me and frankly detrimental to the education we are putting forth.

Mar 25, 11 10:55 am

I think it is presumptuous to believe that everyone studying architecture has the aim of "assembling an office" or that being a good designer makes you not qualified to "put a project together". What we are talking about here is school, not work. School is providing you the means and environment to learn this degree of self awareness and self sufficiency; dealing with multiple tasks on your own with you as the first resource. Isn't that what eventually happens when you are in a position of responsibility? So why shortchange or accelerate this process by enabling students to cheat in this manner. This attitude in school will eventually lead to thos "good designers" minimizing the efforts of those who they delegate work to and perpetuate the "romantic notion" of a caste system in the architecture profession.

Mar 25, 11 11:27 am

Who actually is doing this production work? When i was in school, if someone asked me if i would produce their presentation documents, i would have laughed in their face.

Also, to be a complete designer, architect, manager, whatever, you should have a knowledge of what it takes to do all aspects of the job. If you start out in school by not doing any of your own production work, you will have no idea what goes into it and what it takes to get it done. So you will end up being less of a manager in that regard.

And to be honest, if someone in school tells me they are not a good designer and that they are farming out their production work to hone their office managing skills, I would seriously question the effort they put in to being a designer. What, did they have one bad studio and think there was no chance for them ever?

Mar 25, 11 12:06 pm

this thread somehow got really dumb along the way.

Discussion evolved into doing all your work vs. doing none of your work. No gray region whatsoever.


Mar 25, 11 12:36 pm
St. George's Fields

I'm thinking about outsourcing my bowel movements but no one in the third world wants to be tethered to me by a colostomy tube permanently for $2.50 an hour.

Mar 26, 11 2:38 am

Maestro: authorship is a funny illusion. if you're still stuck on the notion that you have any sort of control over the work you produce, this conversation can't go anywhere.

craftsmanship? cutting chipboard, setting up a laser cutter and gluing sticks is not craftsmanship. having your computer hogged for 15 hours while a realistic maxwell render runs isn't either. oh and spending 5 hours downloading cool materials from the mxm gallery: not craftsmanship either.

i never actually outsourced any work while at school (i enjoyed the brainless downtime that came with production), but let's not romanticize it: it was brainless downtime.

Mar 26, 11 7:28 am

that's the problem with the younger generation or those in poorly rated schools... Architecture is more than just fancy images and renderings.  You'd be thrown out if that's all you do in a reputable school.  Studios are in place so you have weekly crits, have opportunity to do reiterations, and move your design/research along.  I don't know about your school, but most profs give the final grade based on development on the project throughout the term.  You don't just show up for the final review with farmed renders and a design none of your profs guided you on.

Oct 7, 12 5:59 am

at my school they encouraged giving freshmen some of our work... teach them cad and rendering skills while lessening the workload.  i never did it... seemed like a hassle.

Oct 8, 12 12:52 am

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: