Professors with perfunctory attitudes towards students


this should be given more attention to and blown up to a bigger matter than the case of unpaid internships 

May 29, 19 9:12 am
Non Sequitur

Actually, shaming unpaid internships is more important than protecting weak snowflakes. 

May 29, 19 9:14 am

Please find a more useful term than "snowflake" lest you be chucked in with the swath of utter morons who use the term far too frequently.

Non Sequitur

I prefaced my comment with "weak", so that puts me in the clear.


No, but I guess if it helps you avoid thinking about it...

Non Sequitur

Is that not half the battle? Not sure, it’s a little too busy to be consistent this week.


All I'm suggesting is that normalizing the language of Trump and his ilk isn't a good look.


I like you, NS, but that language is lazy. You're better than that.

Non Sequitur

Point taken, but man, tough crowd... can’t resort to lazy drive by comments. TIL the origin of snowflake. Taking tomorrow off anyways. Woooo.


Why would you need a day off? What are you, some kind of precious snowflake?

Non Sequitur

Yes. Thanks for noticing.


Snowflakes aren't weak they are the epitome of mathematical beauty

most of the time it means the prof is a poser. or they have tenure. or both.

May 29, 19 12:11 pm
Non Sequitur

I've found it 50/50 where it's the teacher trying to take a stand on something, or the student just can't take criticism.



Many of my professors only paid attention to the students they thought were "cool" and/or wanted to have sex with.

May 29, 19 1:28 pm

I'll second that. My experience was that the professors seemed to gravitate towards those students that aligned with their own design philosophies. Especially those that wanted to push the envelope--simply for the sake of doing something cute. Those that were interested in nuts and bolts--like myself--often got the obligatory 15 minute crit about why doors should swing out.


Has an architecture professor ever had sex with a student?



/pərˈfəNG(k)t(ə)rē/Learn to pronounce

adjective: perfunctory

  1. (of an action or gesture) carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection. "he gave a perfunctory nod" synonyms: cursory, desultory; More antonyms: careful, thorough
May 29, 19 2:30 pm

Hahaha, I hope this was sarcastic and I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the title was a little bit snobby. No wonder Architects/ architecture students get their criticism for being smug about their studies/career. We often tend to be fancy when there's no reason to be.


I honestly didn't know the word - english is my second language


It's the wholesale attitude of universities that's fucking everything - 20 years ago you had to see 120 students, now you have 320 plus online shit to care about. It's the same with mostly everything, the capitalistic dream/nightmare of infinite growth, deal with it.

May 29, 19 2:33 pm

why?  Because students will continue to pay for it.  No real market forces.   Students have very little ability to be savvy consumers of their education.  That’s why universities are going down the tubes.  

May 29, 19 3:02 pm

I think professors with perfunctory (great word!) attitudes are a necessity and a great opportunity to learn extremely important skills you'll never be directly taught. They force you to learn to remain professional in unpleasant circumstances, to ensure that you know how to back up your design decisions and to remain calm under pressure or when uncomfortable. Some are well aware of how unpleasant they are and even do it pedagogically. I've had a few of those and some of them would actually give you quite a bit of respect once you learnt to deal with their criticism professionally.

May 29, 19 6:27 pm

Counterpoint: It's arrogant and condescending as fuck.

It's unlikely that an arrogant professor will be the last difficult person you'll have to deal with in your professional career.


Considering how much USA schools charge students, the teaching really should be of the highest possible quality, and a focused effort made to maximize the potential of every student.


^ Seconded to thisisnotmyname. The fact is that if students are held to a high standard (and architecture students very much are), so should their teachers. Full stop. Gonzalo, you are correct, and I did learn from a teacher in a way that you have mentioned but I realize after that semester I tried to be much more of a "people pleaser" rather than a "knower" just so I could get the same level of instruction.( Eventually I unlearned that.) Beyond that, with each new generation facing more competition than ever to simply get admitted into said university...I'm inclined to generalize the students of today anything but perfunctory. Eventually we get burned out from only being valued on our ability to "produce" or other toxic pedagogues.

as a part time educator I would like to make a counter-complaint, namely that too many students have a perfunctory attitude.

May 29, 19 7:16 pm

+1 the bane of teaching. seems more common 'now' than 'before'

it might be ;-) Honestly, it's a mixed bag with both students and teachers. Life is like a box of chocolates...


Academia is dead. 

Starchitect (and even more wanna-be starchitects) taking studio teaching positions then showing up one day a week or one day a month, sending flunkies in their place. Professors of practice are disappearing, everyone is an adjunct and no one gets paid shit. 

Meanwhile students expect to be told they are prodigies and have A's rubber-stamped every semester and every class. Either on work-study and working extra to get by so they can't focus on class (and I really feel for these kids) or breezin through on parents money while squandering all the time they have. If you are lucky you can get 2-3 good students per semester where there used to be 5-6. 

May 30, 19 4:21 pm

not sure about that archanonymous.

i taught three studios with Sejima and she was there for 50% of the classes and was fully in. I don't know that the students learned anything but I sure as hell was paying attention. I could give similar reviews of Shigeru Ban and Fumihiko Maki....

Havent worked with that many star architects outside of my uni, but Ive met quite a few and sat in on crits with them. My experience has occasionally been sour but usually I find myself thinking how fucking smart this person is. Some starchitects might have had  advantages that a lot of us didnt get, and I suppose that sucks, but they are where they are because they are committed. It comes through in their comments. Doesnt mean they arent assholes, but lack of commitment is not something I would presume...

Great students are always in small numbers. Its a bell curve. Nothing to be done about it.

The adjunct thing though is a massive problem and it is maybe the root of all the above bemoaning and be-wailing. Every university is going that way now. The entire trend seems like short term thinking taking over, coming from decades of uncertainty and pressure from almost every direction.

May 31, 19 1:19 am

I don't (usually) question big-time architect's commitment to the profession, just their lack of realism about time constraints and the needs of students. 50% of Sejima or Steven Holl or whomever is still just 50%. Are their egos so big that they think 50% of them (or less) is better than 100% of a local professor of practice? These profs frequently have just as strong theoretical chops and often much better practical chops, just nobody is trained to fawn over their musings.


But what do I know, i've never taught at any ivy so I don't know what those students want or need. Just that the one's we get straight out of Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton are usually useless little snowflakes.


Should also clarify that I am willing to accept that a truly brilliant practitioner at 50% time could be better than a local prof at 100%, but the problem with this is it creates a culture where other professors (who really aren't that brilliant) start to travel for studios, fancying themselves the next big thing. This limits their attendance in studio while suppressing employment of local architects and educators, all the while shortchanging students valuable class and crit time. I think the adjunct crisis is tied in with the way these starchitects (and the universities that employ them) approach their faculty. Who needs tenured professors with funding for research and job stability when you can temp hire a few part-time adjuncts and gloss over that by promoting your (Insert Name Here) Prize Studio taught by big-time architect?

the adjunct thing is a different problem than the usefulness of star architects. I've taught with 3 pritzker winners now. If you think they dont know shit then there is nothing I can say to convince you. My experience is that they have important things to say, and if you are in a position to talk with them, one on one, and you decide not to, well then, you would, by definition, be a fool. Their comments in general are pretty well thought out, because they have been doing nothing but design for a very long time, and they have done both small projects as well as mega-projects with serious logisitics, and it shows...personally if someone asked if they should spend 3 hours sitting down and listening to me talk about their design or do the same with Sejima, I would tell them to go talk to her. No brainer. I'm a smart guy and all, and have some useful things to tell students, but come on, I've worked on a few large projects while she is CURRENLTY working on several large projects that are, in addition, fucking exceptional. The experience level does not compare. Like I said I dont know that the students are ready to take all that in, but I sure as hell am ;-)


Totally agree, but usefulness to a student - even most grad students of her for 3 hours vs you for 6 or 9 ? As far as I can tell from your posts, I'd take you... And I'm not totally unfamiliar with working with great architects.

lol. That is kind. I would still go talk to the starchitect. But I'll take the compliment ;-)


The best prof I ever had was very quite type and generally low energy type of guy- he was very old, but very very wise and well informed. He has a phd and ran a successful practice at one point. Honestly he never said much but whenever he did it was far more insightful and helpful then enthusiastic profs that talked all the time. One week of teaching from that guy was more useful then the years I had with other enthusiastic morons. Maybe it is an American thing but just bc someone speaks loudly all the time does not mean the content of what they are saying is any good. I remember my classmates made the mistake of choosing more enthusiastic profs to be their thesis and ignored the profs they never had. By overlooking what the profs wrote, built in the past and solely wanting someone to serve them all the time they were short changed.  

Plus what about lazy students?  And unpaid internships are a far bigger problem then expecting to have a prof serve you all the time, its university it is up to you to earn the respect from the prof. 

May 31, 19 9:25 am


I had a Japanese/American prof that was exactly like this. He would listen to you blabber for 10+ mins. only to rebut with literally one sentence! At first it was frustration, but after some reflection, he was actually right and his one sentence will literally give you a whole new perspective. I think what made his teachings so immensely powerful was that he actually took the time to LISTEN to what you have to say and address it in a simple and concise manner. Students need to keep their ego's in check and actually seriously consider their prof's suggestions.

won and done williams

Perfunctory students usually elicit a perfunctory response. 

May 31, 19 10:07 am

Students work so hard with little sleep, lose their heads in designing and easily have their stamina depleted. Direction and guidance from professors through discussions are more important than you think. After all, architecture is a cooperative and collaborative profession.

Basically my professors started avoiding me like a plague at one point when I went against their suggestion of doing everything in concrete. Of course concrete is easy and conventional for a large span structures - just have continuous columns and structural walls, do a Corbusier d'habitation.. But I was more inclined towards using glulam, i.e. a mass timber building with steel bracing/trusses (I feel like I had explained my structural strategy over and over that my throat is coated with the residue of it but no one was listening). Structures has always been my interest but I had no formal training in it. Resolving structures took up all my time and I was super confused as my building is terraced (a decision made based on form finding). Meanwhile as my professors already deemed my project as a failure (why would they want to work their brain and get a headache instead of sitting somewhere and drinking tea? Or my project simply lacks poetry and caused disdain), I had to outsource my guidance by creeping to the engineering department to consult across faculties and making international video calls to specialists I found - still trying to make everything work like a stubborn turtle. Open source knowledge sharing would put a prejudicial institution with a thick smell of internal politics to shame.

Technology is always advancing, there're already many 'first timber highrise' popping up around the world. Look at The World's Tallest Hybrid Timber.

Life is hard. As a distant school mate put it, "I had to learn from a young age that working hard in ******* is punished while those that do nothing are rewarded for it. A very broken system that anyone can take advantage of .."

May 31, 19 10:16 am

you have the right attitude and i hope in work you have found more success investigating legitimate ideas. the worst professors are those who obstruct knowledge to impose their own stuck thoughts


Professors avoided me my last year too. That's when you know it's time to graduate.


So you failed the project bc you decided to use glulam for the structure instead of concrete? Really that is the only reason this perfunctory prof failed your project? I am having a hard time believing you that you failed your project, prolly you got a mediocre grade and worked hard on the structure but the prof did not particularly care about only the structure and factored other things when making your grade. Look you need to chill a little, continue doing what interests you and forget about expecting profs to fall in love with your glulam structures. When you graduate there is a whole world out there where offices have different interests and I am sure you will find a place that aligns with your interests. Unpaid internships are


sorry was not finished......unpaid internships are a bigger problem then expecting profs to have the exact same interests as you.


@tintt me too. in hindsight i assume it was a hygiene problem.


My professor ignored me because he had nothing to offer me. It was sad. He would point his cane at me, wink, and ask, "you ok?" And I'd say yes. I got the 2nd highest grade in that studio. The other professor ignored the entire class by failing to show up for 5 weeks straight.


as I've said before, architecture school is like Marine Corp. boot camp

your prof will get in your face during a crit and "WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION" it's the way it is - you have to really be the best, be proficient. 

May 31, 19 12:03 pm

Let's be honest here. Student's aren't the best at determining if they're competent in a skill set, especially in architecture. While it is subjective in nature, there are certain principles or "truths" that are fundamental to the topic at hand. Some profs have big egos, but at the end of the day they're there to teach and/or do research. It's not like they have a personal agenda to ruin your educational experience. From my experience, the students that receive the cold shoulder or smug attitude from profs are the students that have the WRONG attitude to begin with and brought it upon themselves on the very first day of studio. These same students are typically one of those classmates that are: 

a) arrogant, dismissive, and think highly of themselves

b) incredibly annoying and needs to constantly remind the class of their pathetic existence and that their opinions are original, creative and intelligent

c) extremely defensive during crits and love using "big" words during presentation

d) extremely selfish (especially in group settings) and are too pre-occupied with their own existence

e) all of the above

Seeing a pattern here? If you're going to act like an asshole, you're going to get treated like one or ignored. Doesn't matter who's footing the bill, just be humble, receptive to ideas, and open minded and you'll certainly get along with your profs just fine. You're in school to learn, not prove to your prof that you "know it all". Keep your ego in check.

One last note: Your studio project is not your baby, the sooner you can let go, the easier studio actually becomes. That's a fact and you can take that to the bank!

May 31, 19 1:38 pm

Ok. I will empty my cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality


The point is that you need to get along with your profs. You can't change your prof, so you can only do what you can to change your approach. Be a politician and fake it if need be. You don't have to like the prof but you need get along with them if you want your time in school to be tolerable at worst, successful at best. Like I said, keep the ego in check.

Witty Banter

Funny, my experience was close to the opposite of this. Often times the the students exhibiting the qualities you listed above were the "favorite sons/daughters."


"Its not showboating if you can bring it" 


I think such challenging situations are a good opportunity to work/train your emotional intelligence. Getting what you want while working with people you don't see eye to eye with is an important skill that will help out immensely while working professionally. It's important to disassociate your goals in that design studio, from your personal 'dislike'/'war' with the instructor. No one can stop you from building value in yourself, other than you. I feel its a very important difference and step-up from being very talented to being successful. 

May 31, 19 10:19 pm

As I understand this issue, it's the faculty that rely on the phrase "that's the way it's always been done," that behave in perfunctory manner. Relying upon convention that were standard 20 and 30 years ago because that is either how they learned, practice, or both. This message can be delivered in a calm passive tone or with bravado, but both have the same effect- preventing students from having ownership in their future as practitioners 20 years down the road. 

The downside of this approach to teaching like this in a ugrad context the reaction is to fall back on their primary education, expecting to be taught towards the test, aka:" what do I need to do to get an A"- assuming design process is always that linear. It's not much better for grad students who are increasingly nervous about their investment in the profession they have discover to be a personal passion (read: assuming that all graduate students are a waste is also perfunctory thinking).

Conversely, students should be taking risks and accepting lower (passing) grades provided it's a compelling alternate inquiry and it results in a compelling portfolio piece (saying "I'm just not inspired" doesn't cut it). 

Design is clearly in a time where looking back to find answers to copy isn't going to be satisfactory- same as it ever was isn't going to cut it on either side of the table.

Jun 1, 19 11:00 am

This is a beautiful answer. On the point about the "that's the way it's always has been" professors I agree wholeheartedly. In my experience I've found that particular answer/perspective from professors to be one of the most counter-educational / anti-pedagogical attitudes in our academia. Not held by every teacher, but enough. While I don't think the importance perfunctory professors deserves more attention than unpaid internships, it strikes me that these "status-quo" professors/mentors are part of that larger conversation. I'm projecting here but often those same professors defend unpaid internships with that very mindset: "That's the way it's always been done"


I never encountered a "that's the way it's always been done" attitude from a professor in architecture school - quite the opposite: if you weren't pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo then you might not be interesting enough for the professor to engage with. The "that's the way it's always been done" thing has come up in lots of firms since then - though more often by relatively younger or less experienced people. It's a defensive thing I see a lot from people who have only experienced one way to do things so they latch onto that as the only way.


Our experiences are not synonymous with everyone else's....(I'm envious that you have not encountered that attitude) I've encountered it in graduate school mostly in relationship to whistle-blowers(both teachers and students) beyond other things. Without going into those private events, a number of issues were brought up to said administration and/or appropriate bureaucratic channels within the architecture school that I saw during my time there but were constantly met with responses that could be summed into *shrug*. Those issues ranged from plagiarism, unethical teachers, sexism, xenophobia, etc. To be fair, I know of one issue I personally blew the whistle at that was later addressed. But I'm positive I wasn't the first student to report it, it was simply that I went to someone who with the position to A) Do something about it B)Cared about doing something about it.


maybe we need to focus on how to deflate people's egos.  It seems to me that a lot of these people think of themselves as heroes, the great independent designer like Howard roarke who is better than everyone else and who should be adored by everyone.

This is a problem with the "this is the way it's always been one" comment above. It bugs me how often I still have to explain why you don't weep brick with sash cord, or why we don't wrap buildings with visqueen any more.

it also relates to the OPs concern with the attention professors are able to give students.  If they aren't getting that feedback of adoration they expect from their students, they retreat.  I was fortunate in that I did not get that from the vast majority of my professors, but it was there for a couple of them.

If your project is going to be more than single family residential, keep in mind this is a team sport, and no matter how important you think you are, you are a part of something bigger than yourself.

Jun 1, 19 1:56 pm

I think the point I’m making is bring missed. I’m not referring to fundamental concepts related to assembly, and your point “why we don't wrap buildings with visqueen any more,” get to the heart of what I was trying to get at. Things- even assemblies- cha
nge along with style, program, and user groups.

Edit on phone-
“trying to make.”

What should be given even more attention than unpaid internships are people using “perfunctory” in thread titles.
Jun 5, 19 6:03 am

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