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Is Marxist ideology infused into architecture education?

x-jla

An architectural education that’s so infused with Marxist/socialist ideology creates students that are ill prepared for the real world (assuming that they are graduating into a non-socialist country).   Academia has created an imagined context that is not consistent with the actual context that student will operate within.  By ignoring the constraints of the real context, I’d argue that the biggest flaw of academia is it’s disregard for the socio-economic and political context.  While many architecture programs stress the importance of context with regards to climate, demographics, geography, etc, they ignore a very important aspect of context that governs every part of practice.  Teaching students to operate within the constraints of the existing economic and political context would be beneficial in addressing many issues.  Can students find ways to create sustainable communities without having to create a fake imaginary context where the government hands out free money?  

 
Sep 14, 20 12:34 pm
x-jla

should we stress economic context like we do climatic context?  I’d say absolutely yes!   

Sep 14, 20 12:35 pm  · 
5  · 
Non Sequitur

^yes, especially since many clients won't care about environmental concerns if the design team cannot make financial sense of the cost.

1  · 
x-jla

Exactly non. There isn’t anything sustainable about things that aren’t feasible.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

You should have led with that point instead of the mega-vague Marxist generalization.

2  · 
x-jla

Agree. But big picture these sentiments tie into that line of thought. If you go down that rabbit hole it will all make sense. Capitalism/business is viewed as an oppressive force to be ignored or circumvented rather than engaged...which is the only constraint (other than gravity in some programs Lol) that is acceptable to be treated that way.

 ·  1
Non Sequitur

I'm not entirely sure I follow, and I'm trying here. Sure, there is always a small handful of students wearing Che shirts proposing radical shit without any intention of meeting reality... I mean I was one of those wankers (Che shirt included, albeit briefly), but the point was to design a thought exercise, not necessarily a rational building. This is more often than not the result of lax studio curricula or a more experimental prof, not the entirety of academia. 

There is no force or agenda present that oppress students. Perhaps it's just that the wild ideas are what makes media tours instead of someone coming up with a reasonable wall section for a 6-storey block of apartments.

3  · 
square.

the premise of your questions shows you have no real knowledge of marx, and as usual are using something beyond your understanding to incite an inflammatory reaction. the irony is your solution to this imaginary problem would actually be described closer to marxist; marx's theory of historical materialism was very interested in examining actual, real, material conditions. it's why his political/economic works stress, for example, the conditions of workers in factories, exhaustively detailing (based on real inspector's reports and data) what was actually happening in the factory, not just what the capitalist or academic might summarize or assume was happening.

i'll correct your question, which would be interesting without the usual bullshit:

An architectural education that’s so infused with [neoliberal]
ideology creates students that are ill prepared for the real world, [instead fostering a false sense of competition and scarcity, rather than collaboration, that further engenders cheap workers who are willing to sacrifice their livelihoods for false, commodified ideals such as "design" and "celebrity, leaving little room for more pressing concerns such as the economy or climate].

Sep 14, 20 12:47 pm  · 
6  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I mean, sweet Jesus on a half shell. It's almost like he's not paying attention. There's likely more assholes teaching anarcho-capitalism, or whatever Patrimetric is labeling it now, than there are flat out Marxists. Real Marxists want get rid of property owners, and have the state build. Where does this "program" exist?

2  · 
square.

right, it's funny: the right/conservative consensus has done such a good job solidifying neoliberalism as the mainstream that many people delusionally think that architecture programs are some how on the left spectrum, based on false assumptions and a hangover from mccarthyism. instead what we see is an overwhelming push for hyper-individualism and self-promotion. it's like when people describe sanders as a socialist, when he's in reality closer to center-left in the context of the world. what a strange country we live in..

3  · 
Non Sequitur

^to be honest, I had an elective class that revolved around this stuff... but it was mostly a literature class with no studio involvement. Few students took it since, from what I can remember, your entire grade was based on a single paper turned in at the end of the year and no exam. It was called something like avant-guard design theory.

4  · 
apscoradiales

Square, couldn't have answered the question better myself.

1  · 
apscoradiales

b3tadine[sutures] - there are slivers of such beliefs around the world in various political parties. In Canada, we have the NDP Party which sometimes borrows ideas from such thoughts.

2  · 
Non Sequitur

^Aps, don't forget Bloc Quebcois. They seem to hoard a great deal of these thoughts.

1  · 
apscoradiales

Don't get me going on the BQ!!!

Bunch of racists.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Aps... I can see them from my office window... almost. The peace tower conveniently blocks my view of QC.

 · 
square.

but are there any architecture schools that could be described as "marxist?" the idea is laughable to me; architects, by necessity, follow the money, after all...

2  · 
x-jla

Square. You are not paying attention.

 · 
square.

please then, explain to me what these principles of marxism are that you are so concerned about, and what schools are implementing them. it is the title of this thread after all.

 · 
x-jla

call it what you want. Will you at least acknowledge the anti-capitalist sentiment? To me that’s like a university in LA professing an anti-earthquake sentiment. The context is the context, and teaching ways to work within it is important. Do I have the quote Eames?

 · 
square.

no, because i don't operate in vague generalizations. i know many schools, including one of the ones i went to, that are thoroughly capitalist. their intent is to produce architects who can plug into a firm owned privately by an individual or a small set of individuals, not produce proletariats looking to own the means of production. in fact, many, if not most programs i am aware of (again i can't say all because i do not claim to over broad, oversimplified knowledge of all architecture programs in the us) are full of individuals who own their own practices and employ others, setting a perfect precedent for capitalism.

you're way out of your league on this one.. you've already made a fool of yourself with the opening question (whether you agree or not, to claim that marxism isn't interested in economics is prfoundly stupid); might be time to head back to the politics sandbox you made.

1  · 
x-jla

I’m referring to the rhetorical arguments and talking points of cultural Marxism, the thing that people pretend doesn’t exist. While I agree that many professors are tapped into the real world and have one foot in professional practice, many do not. The tenured professors seem to be more entrenched in ideology than the ones who come in to teach a studio or do desk crits. I’ll also note that this is a recent thing in architecture school. When I went it wasn’t really something too overbearing, but things have changed. When did you last step foot in academia square?

 ·  2
b3tadine[sutures]

Xla still has yet to answer square's questions; define, or cite examples of what you proffering as being true. Where is Marxist Design, or Cultural Marxism occurring?

Cultural Marxism, doesn't mean what you think it does. <-----tip #1

1  · 
square.

i currently teach, but there isn't one person who i know of at my institution who remotely resembles what you're talking about. also, even if we were to assume what you are saying is true, is your goal to suppress "leftist" points of view? should we not have a spectrum of perspectives and ideologies?

i would argue that while i see plenty of architecture professors who are liberal in terms of social issues, i see little to no left leaning professors in terms of economics because, again, even the "liberal" ones often own businesses and tend to be conservative. you see this cognitive dissonance all the time with "socially conscience" professors who turn around and pay their employees garbage with no health insurance.

1  · 
x-jla

I don’t mean straight up Marxism...should clarify a little bit thought it was obvious....but the Sentiments and bits and pieces of ideas that come from that school of thought. Mainly, a resentment of capitalism, business, etc....a hostility that it is something in the way rather than something to be engaged and respected as a given constraint of the given context.

 · 
square.

not so obvious. again, you're conflating liberalism with anti-capitalism. it just isn't prevalent in the way you think it is. what is much more common is professors with flashy practices who exploit their employees, a thoroughly capitalist ideal.
2  · 
x-jla

Square, viewing capitalism as a force of oppression rather than a force of liberation is an artifact of Marxist thought.

 · 
x-jla

And it’s also inconsistent with history and reality.

 · 
square.

i'm living in reality, today. not talking about history. paying someone a non-living wage in the 21st-century to run your cool architecture studio isn't liberating.

jlxax is railing against institutions to be more "in touch with reality," but they live in vague abstractions without citing any concrete examples. the irony is incredibly rich.

2  · 
x-jla

Because I shouldn’t need to give specific examples of the obvious....and it’s obvious to anyone who’s been around academia this last decade. This goes back further in the humanities, but it’s become the new thing in the post starchitect era that I think began around 5-10 years ago.

 ·  3
square.

fin.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Anything can be made into an "era" or claimed to be "obvious" if you invent your own rules. That does not make it so, objectively.

4  · 

Lol. If it’s so obvious, wouldn’t it be super easy to give specific examples?

4  · 
x-jla

Can you give specific examples to the contrary?

 ·  2

So because you can't give examples to support your point, now you want the rest of us to prove you wrong!? Do your own homework

1  · 
Non Sequitur

... yes, having students consider real things in their studio projects as opposed to fluffy ideologies is a good idea... however, developing fluffy ideologies helps develop the necessary imagination and design skills that fuel the passion of good students.  We're not accountants after all but I'd like to see academia cover the entire breath of the profession equally.

With that said, one of the most eye-opening stuff I took in school was a business class (taught by a real-estate developer as an elective offered primarily to 4th year arch students) where we had to develop business models along with small arch projects.  The end-of-year project was a full blown presentation + ROE analysis for a very large retail development c/w presentation in front of non-arch critics. You had to price out your shit and be ready to defend the cost vs potential revenue... considering all things from interest of construction cost loans to naming rights revenue.  

All I can say is that most of my peers hatted it because it was not about drawing pretty shadows (graphite hand rendering back then).



Sep 14, 20 12:55 pm  · 
3  · 
apscoradiales

While I was in school, I remember somebody bring up the Building Code, and why do we, as students , don't more info on it in the class.

The answer; "it will destroy your imagination".

True to a large degree.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

I do not disagree. I told myself I'd stop doing guest reviews in my old undergrad school after my last trip. One poor sap (4th year) used the building code's req for a fire-truck turning radius as the guiding principle of his project (a residential addition to an old 100+ year old historic church). 100% focus on driving a truck anywhere but literally did not give a fiery fuck about the buildings. I cut him off when he started listing the code sections.

2  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I used to think that codes, zoning, destroyed creativity, I wish I could have those five years back, practice teaches you a lot about creativity.

3  · 

creativity thrives with constraints

3  · 
Non Sequitur

constraints and deadlines.

and coffee


2  · 
thatsthat

We had a 'codes' talk in school that felt very much like the puberty talk they make you sit through in middle school. Everyone had the 'so that's how that works' look on their face but also looked equally uncomfortable and disgusted.

 · 
midlander

mainly i think the reason codes aren't taught in school is because they're hard to teach. it takes experience and wisdom to recognize what parts of a project really depend on clear understanding of a portion of the code and can inform the design (eg restrictions on facade materials for particular building types), and what things can be assumed to work out if you make reasonable allowances (fire truck paths) and occasionally what things no one knows without asking for interpretation...

1  · 
thatsthat

I think you're totally right midlander. I also wonder how much of it is some professors' lack of practice experience. Especially from younger profs who are straight out of an MArch II program and have never had a full-time job at a firm.

1  · 
randomised

Building codes and regulations age rather quickly and are outdated before they reach the studio, let alone finding the sucker(m/f/x) that would actually like to teach that subject to architecture students. The best way to learn that stuff is in practice with real constraints and real clients and real building departments etc. We all picked it up and are all able to use that knowledge on a day to day basis, yet none of us learned it in academia really.

1  · 

On the topic of building codes, 1. they do age but the basics stay the same, even some don't change much at all, ADA for example. 2. Why should the private sector have the burden of teaching something as fundamental as life safety, accessibility and zoning? A good design studio incorporates codes into the design task as part of the project brief, failing to do so is just a waste of time. We are, in this profession, designers not artist, part of a good design is working within the constrains of the codes and regulations. The goal of most architects should be to design buildings and other built environments that actually get built. Sorry if reality is too oppressive for you to express your creativity. Over and OUT Peter N

 · 
randomised

If all ideas in academia have to follow economic and political principles already ((pseudo)Marxist or (free)market capitalism is irrelevant I think), there will be no room for innovation. In academia you have to reach beyond the expected and beyond the reachable and venture into the unbuildable, thereby ignoring the politics and economics to some extent. Sure, it is great to design something that already has been proven to work, and can be built and paid for, but you don’t need to go academic to do that.

Sep 14, 20 1:04 pm  · 
1  · 

innovation often is the result of creative people finding a way to overcome constraints such as cost, codes or other real world problems, what you describe is more free form thinking that is nice and all but thoughts don't keep the rain out.

 · 
Jay1122

I understand why they don't want to touch on the practical aspect of the traditional architecture practices, the design tends to be a lot more boring compared to the day dreaming stuff. And less than half will end up in the profession, many more will quit the profession after a few years. It is good to let them dream and have fun while they still can. I would somehow love to see them set some dedicated studios that are practice based.These should be reserved for the truly determined to go into the profession. Teaching design with real world projects, RCP is a must, wall section details also required. They have to meet the codes.Consider budget impacts of their decisions.

Ah, It made me think of a classmates's project on 5th year studio. A giant man made skeleton tower with dandelions planted all over. The wind will spread the seed to the city. Help create a more green urban environment. Jesus fk is it a bullshit and waste of studio.

Sep 14, 20 1:17 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

Big Lawn Pesticide strongly supports the dandelion seeding tower. Time to lawyer up.

 · 
randomised

Jay, something in the line of the late Sam Mockbee’s Rural Studio...guess he could even be considered a Marxist!

 · 
JLC-1

can't make this shit up!

Greenshirt Laughing Man GIF - Greenshirt LaughingMan LaughingHysterically -  Discover & Share GIFs

Sep 14, 20 2:04 pm  · 
5  · 

Moderator, please feature this post.

4  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

That got taken away!!!!

 ·  2
apscoradiales

"creativity thrives with constraints"

Not really.

It thrives with need. Need to create a solution to a problem.

Sep 14, 20 4:06 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Man i am tired of people trying to make architecture as a solution to a problem. I hear it from interviews time to time. You may address some programmatic functional requirements, but it is not a problem. More of a condition. Do you think Ghery/Zaha made the work look like the way they are because they have to address certain problem? Nah They just want to. Just like you can make a building look like a duck while it solves nothing. 

1  · 

The fact that there is a problem to be solved is a constraint. Your creativity is constrained in figuring out a solution to that problem. Otherwise you could create anything.

1  · 
midlander

usually you have a lot of options in choosing your problems though, or making them up

 · 
apscoradiales

Expand your horizon - it's not all about architecture.

Carl Benz invented the car because he wanted to get from point a to point b faster than riding a horse.

Banting invented insulin, because lots of people had diabetes.

Bell invented the phone because he wanted to chat on it (I assume).

Windows were invented because people wanted to look outside to see what's happening there (I hope).

And so on, and on, and on........


Sep 14, 20 4:17 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

Coffee was invented by a bunch of guys sitting around and smoking who wanted something to drink that would let them stay up later and smoke fucking more. - Dr Denis Leary

 · 
apscoradiales

square;

"...i know many schools, including one of the ones i went to, that are thoroughly capitalist. their intent is to produce architects..."

No, no, no!

Their aim is to make money!

How do they do that? Certainly not by producing more of this or more of that.

They make money by getting students to sing up for their classes and fees. You really think their aim is to make for a better World?

Only for themselves. They couldn't give a shit if a genious architect graduated from their programme - it's the fee they want!



Sep 14, 20 4:22 pm  · 
 · 

Yes! Here is the Marxist ideology that was infused in my architecture school's curriculum. Not by reference to him or this quote though... 

Sep 14, 20 4:29 pm  · 
4  · 
apscoradiales

Can't argue too much with that, can you?

 · 
x-jla

Even a flaming racist like Marx gets something correct now and then.

 ·  2
newguy

Going to university and studying architecture didn't make me a Marxist.


Working long hours and being under compensated to increase the profit margins of developers did.

Sep 14, 20 5:18 pm  · 
3  · 
apscoradiales

LOL. Fix the situation, become a developer yourself...no?

 ·  2
newguy

Experiencing downward mobility, declining living standards, neo-liberal austerity and Laissez-faire market forces , the rise in nationalism, and the destruction of the environment in real-time is a far, far, faaarrrrr more radicalizing force than anything a professor said during a lecture about Walter Gropius or whatever.

2  · 
apscoradiales

are you then saying what you learned in school had very little to do with reality? horror...!

 · 
DTL.DWG

interesting topic, makes me think of this fake thread post - Architects as Saviors

https://archinect.com/forum/th...


Also, I've read a lot of Marx.  I like Marx, smart guy, very detailed, took philosophy to a new level - the economy.  You compare Karl Marx to Adam Smith and there is a huge gap in intelligence and just thorough thinking. The key difference was Smith just made observations about reality and imagined there was an invisible hand and Marx tried to solve serious problems, which he did and then others did, over and over again - the constant re-assessment of the lowest working class and fair compensation for being said class.  The question is - when robots start doing the grunt work  (much of it already) - what will be the lowest working class then be .... ARCHITECTS!

Sep 14, 20 7:13 pm  · 
4  · 
bowling_ball

Will never happen. Drafting will become more and more automated for sure, but the job of architect is way too broad to ever disappear. With few exceptions, we're also luddites who are only slightly less resistant to change than contractors, who will continue to exercise heavy control over the means of production / construction.

2  · 
DTL.DWG

you mean THINKING is important. Good response. on intelligence (good book) reference here, and on actual intelligence see

 · 
square.

made me happy to revisit one of my favorite jxalx self-owns.

Sep 24, 20 3:08 pm  · 
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