I hate my mediocre design


I'm a senior and trying to finish up my last semester of architecture school. I'm not going to a 'name' school, but my school is generous. It gives me money and I don't have to worry about debt. My grades are fine. Nothing is below B. All of my studio instructors like me or at least they don't hate me. In professional level, I get along fairly well with everyone including my professors, other staff in the school, and my studio peers. Also I already have a job lined up after graduation.

Sounds like there is nothing to complain. 

BUT, I'm currently very sick of my work, my last semester, my current project and everything I did. It's just a week to the final submission. I have things and I just need to get it done. Submit it. Present it. Graduate, walk away and take the job. That's it. Very simple. However, I'm still sick, very sick of it. I hate what I'm drawing. I hate the model I'm making. I hate the concept that I'm pouring in my project. I hate everything. Nothing I'm doing makes me proud. I look back all studio projects in the past few years. They are mediocre I have to say. None of them goes beyond the boundary. Boring forms. Safe options. So so concepts. I guess I never got bad grades for studio (and other classes) because I always followed the rules. I made every deadline. My work was completed and met all required programs/codes. I explained my projects properly at final reviews. It's like I always did things that I needed to do and I just repeated the same routines. I repeat. I'm repeating them now. I'm no longer happy and enjoying architecture as I was. This semester I walked to first year sections more than any semester. I looked at their stuff. They may not know as many theories as I do, but their work is fresh and original. I was one of them. My work was once fresh and original. Now it is not. I did everything to recall that feeling. Nothing helped. I'm stuck in a circle I created. I spend time on reading architectural theories and philosophy. I spend time on open idea competitions (and never win one). It's not that I want to be a theorist or a teacher. I still want to be an architect. But I can't draw, I can't design, so I read. And after I read, I'm still struggling. Or I design, and the result is again - BORING.

Is it because I'm an average joe and I should accept that fact? I always take safe routes. I was accepted to the Cooper Union, but I was afraid of $100k+ debt, so I chose to go a cheaper school instead. I don't know if it would have made a difference to take the CU education and go to New York. I get along with my professors and peers, but I never try to push any relationship hard. I can go out and have a drink with them, but that's it. I never share with anyone about my plans, my passion, my hobbies or anything personal. I was told that I needed a stronger personality to pursue design. While my peers freely and passionately express their personalities, I just fade out. I'm shy. I never speak out in team work. I just do my part and do what other teammates tell me to do. My peers have many other talents: music, photography, languages, etc. while I completely don't. I suck at music. I can't remember even a note. My singing is horrible. My dancing is even worse. I'm not good at learning language either. It took me more than eight years to learn English so that I now can somehow communicate in English. I'm still learning English everyday and my English still sucks. Beside architecture, I suck at everything else. And even architecture, I'm not good at it either... But I don't know what else I can do if it's not architecture...

I'm still inspired by other people's work. But I feel like I can't learn anything from their design and apply to my own work. When I see my work, I just want to vomit and escape. I don't want to give up but I don't know how to change and what to do to make it better.

Sorry for ranting and thank you for reading. Good luck on your final review!

Apr 29, 18 10:57 am
Le Courvoisier

So you have a couple options here:

1) Push through anyway and never have this project in your portfolio, and start opening up to people and go after the type of design you want.

2) Don't, and make yourself miserable.

Apr 29, 18 11:09 am

Have you ever read "A hunger artist" by Kafka?

Apr 29, 18 11:42 am

One of my favorite books.


I know many students who look at the work-in-progress and think its not up to their expectation - sense thats normal. Remember its not the final outcome that is important but the process you went through during your full education.  

Take some acting classes - will build your self confidence -

Apr 29, 18 12:11 pm

Designing "beyond the box" is not what you do in the real world.  99% of client don't want that, and they will not permit you to spend their money pursuing your fantasies.  Your supposedly more talented classmates are going to slam into that brick wall very soon.  Relax and stop with the panic.  God, I hate the brainwashing that architecture schools do with this design-is-everything shit.

Apr 29, 18 12:49 pm

I was thinking this too. "oh great, he's already ready for his first job... I was tired of drawing these details today anyway, maybe he can start tomorrow and get them done for me by my F riday deadline?"


Finish the damn thing and take a few weeks after graduation to visit some exceptional works of architecture before you start working - you never really finish learning. Visit classical and modern buildings. After reflection you might decide your project was not too bad after all.

Apr 29, 18 1:25 pm

many students don't realize that school is only the beginning, not an end, or any kind of meaningful half-way point - it just a fraction. Questioning and being critical/reflective sound like very healthy forms of being-in-the-studio.

Apr 29, 18 2:32 pm

I was a mediocre architecture student and looking back, that is not so bad. It seems like a number of the people who had "fresh and original" ideas or "pushed the boundaries," who were the darlings of studio aren't really doing anything like that.

Apr 29, 18 3:00 pm

I would say I would send you my bag of creations (mostly architecture), it was probably 50 lbs, but I threw it away.  I love architecture.  I can't conform, I can't go back to school.  I know how to design and I know how to do the structural.  I love it, more than anything I could ever do.  In some equivalent way I'm just like you, I don't have my architecture supplies with me for the next sixish days, and this is complete torture.

Apr 29, 18 7:05 pm
Non Sequitur

No, you don't know design nor do you know structural. That's been well demonstrated here. You also can't sign or play the guitar either.

Non Sequitur

Thank you Jawknee, you've further reinforced what we already know of you.


OP, there's nothing wrong with boring. Second, the fact you can critique your own work is very valuable, I'd develop that further. Maybe instead of changing your entire project last minute (and still leave you dissatisfied, be sure of that) end with a critique of your project. If you can identify the "flaws" but are unable to fix them, you're basically half way there where most will never get :)

Apr 30, 18 2:41 am

As others here have said, studio is not the end-all-be-all that unis make it out to be.  It is a series of classes in school - so what?  FINISH your project.  Even if it makes you want to vomit.  Even if you're embarrassed by what you produce.  Just get that piece of paper so you can get out and start learning in a real environment.

School is just the starting point.  Nothing to really judge yourself by.  I was horrible in studio.  Had my best friend tell me I should change majors because he could tell by my studio work that I wasn't cut out to be an architect.  Now I'm working, learning a ton, and doing great in a job I really enjoy at a firm that does great work.

Apr 30, 18 9:22 am
Non Sequitur

It's like when I still get together with some of the highschool guys and there is always that one person who just keeps refering to things 15y ago... Dude, have you not done anything else with your life since then? Highschool was not that important. Same thing with university. It's just a small percentage.

Sam Apoc

OP, this is old, but quite relevant if you've never seen it:

Keep grinding and don't be so hard on yourself.

Apr 30, 18 11:02 am

Post that project here so we can see what you're talking about.

Apr 30, 18 11:05 am
Wood Guy

This is good practice for the real world, when you sometimes have to push through on projects and parts of projects that don't excite you. This may be the most important project of your career to date, but completely inconsequential once you start working. 

Apr 30, 18 5:06 pm

you're good at hating, use it.

Apr 30, 18 5:15 pm

Walk down a city street and look around.  Do you like any of the buildings?  If so, ask yourself why and then try to incorporate those things you like in your work.  Good luck.

Apr 30, 18 5:26 pm

hah, I'd expect the answer would be no for most of us.


That's too bad. If there are no buildings that inspire you, I'd suggest getting into a different field.


Even the Taco Bell is inspiring with its splash of purple.


I've seen those new Taco Bells! I admit, it was inspiring... though none near me. I guess I inferred you meant walk down 'my' city street. Indeed there are many city streets out there that are inspiring, just not mine.


You thought I said 'your' street? Another point for academia.  I really hope you (the author) take advantage to design something you love, cause when you hit the streets, you'll be missing the days you could have played Brunelleschi.  Time's short, do what you love and figure out a way to get paid doing it.  In the mean time, be patient.


wait till you get into the real world kid.

May 1, 18 12:10 pm

I'm painting, I'm painting again.
I'm painting, I'm painting again.
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning again.
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning my brain.

Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.
Pretty soon now, will be a quitter.
Pretty soon now, I will be bitter.
You can't see it 'til it's finished.

I don't have to prove...that I am creative!
I don't have to prove...that I am creative!
All my pictures are confused
And now I'm going to take me to you.

May 1, 18 8:24 pm

Wouldn't you know it

He thinks he's a poet.


bbbbut can you build bro?

You need to step back to the basics of what being an architect really means.. Screw trying to be a starchitect or designing 'cool' buildings.  Master the art of actual building before trying to push boundaries.

May 2, 18 1:01 am

You had me at "boring".

May 2, 18 10:10 pm

Thanks anyone who read and replied. I pushed through it anyway. Just woke up from the party as Sir Apple Chrissy recommended.

May 3, 18 4:16 pm

Good luck with that job, you'll see it is totally different than university, maybe it's more to your liking and playing to your strengths.


Thanks. I hope so.


"I hate my mediocre design" - I wish the firm i work for understood this. (about their designs)

May 3, 18 4:33 pm

Maybe do something about it.


I agree with one of the earlier responses in that it's a good thing to be a little self-critical, hopefully as a means of setting a standard to live up to each and every day. Still, it's no use getting so depressed about what you could have done better or differently while at school.  Within the longer context of an architectural career, schoolwork is a mere footnote, which most professionals would be eager to forget. After that first long and steady job following graduation,  no potential employer will care to look at your student portfolio. They will be evaluating you based on your on-the-job experience and your suitability to the project team. The attitude and temperament you portray to people around you will contribute much more to your career success than the quality of your work during the time when you were just learning the basics of the craft. Don't confuse the "good" with what's "new".  

May 4, 18 2:52 pm
Mimy Zen

Well, you say you can't do anything, for one thing, you can write, maybe you can work on that, along with your career in architecture of course, that's what i do too.

secondly, ou should consider the fact that maybe your have other issues, you can still be talented but you can't see it, or you can't access your creative mind for some reason, you should look into that.

i recently wrote a similar piece, but my issues came after graduation. I was inspired in school, and my artistic flair was on point.

after that, well, i was confronted sometimes with the harsh reality of "you keep creativity for architecture school and stick to boring", especially at the begening of my career.

Good luck, i wish you the very best in your career.

Oct 31, 19 8:36 pm

“Discontent is the first step towards progress” - fortune cookie 

Nov 1, 19 11:44 am

"Mmmm, brains!" --Zombie threads


I don't understand the obsession with students to always be the best in studio and present polished work to the nth degree. You're in school to learn to test the boundaries and there's nothing wrong with being mediocre and failing at it. Its how you demonstrate you're learning that actually matters and the more resourceful you are, the more recognition you get. What actually matters is how you produce the outcome rather than what it is that you presented. I've had many projects that were complete and utter failure from a design and polished project point of view, however still ended up getting top marks because of how the project is presented, lessons learned, process and demonstration of thinking. I literally had no renders for a final project and I knew I couldn't complete it despite it being a "requirement" but I knew that a drawing (a well drawn one) could convey so much more about the qualitative experience and iterative process than a polished rendering ever can. That's not to say that renderings don't matter, but every tool has its place. Be resourceful.

Nov 1, 19 12:39 pm

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