Worst Crits


worst crits...:

anyone want to list? the more i watch american idol & paula abdul the more i believe pat-on-the-back crits are worthless, even though they're much less painful.

so anyone want to share their most painful ones?

Apr 23, 05 9:07 pm

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All 169 Comments

freshman year, while presenting in pairs...
"If your drawings matched his model, we might have one good project between you" also from the same crit, "Is this a ... structural... glob of glue?"

Apr 23, 05 9:23 pm  · 

All my crits end in shouting matches..

Apr 23, 05 9:48 pm  · 

I had a final crit in Spring of my 3rd year, one of those ones where all the dfferent 3rd year profs would rotate around to every student and give the most conflicting analysis possible for hours and hours.

So the first professor to get to me listened to my presentation quietly, then said "when I went to school, at a different school than this one, there were students who would present projects like this one. <pause> <eye contact> And they would fail."

On the bright side, I figured things would only get better as the afternoon progressed.

Apr 23, 05 11:00 pm  · 

I cant recall a crit of my own thats worth mentioning, but I did hear of a student at my school who, after an all-nighter, fell asleep standing up and fell to the ground as she was listening to the prof. critting away... hilarious

Apr 23, 05 11:50 pm  · 

I just gave a crit to a girl a few min ago. right before midterm presentation, and I pretty much tore up her entire concept and building. needless to say she was pissed and almost did the crying thing. but I kinda feel bad, I had the best intentions though. even worse she didnt even ask for my opinion. uugghh, oh well.

Apr 23, 05 11:51 pm  · 

i had two professors in two different classes.. and there was a time when one was a visiting critic to the other.. man, they tore up every project on the boards.. i think that they didn't like each other..
so, sometimes criticism can be unfounded.. someone is trying to embarass your teacher, and you just get caught in the middle..
its like a family feud..

Apr 24, 05 5:59 pm  · 

Pasha's point about conflicting criticism is very important here.

For major crits, with invited outsiders (even if faculty inside the school), the discussions often are more about personalities and politics than with the student's work. That is the height of unprofessional behavior... but this happens in many fields, not just ours.

Of course, occasionally the clashing critics ARE focused on the project. Then, the discussion can be really invigorating.

Apr 24, 05 6:09 pm  · 

"is that an octopus?"

Apr 24, 05 6:34 pm  · 

"you should have just said that it is a vertical garden / day care / package liquor store / parking garage / culinary retreat!"

Apr 24, 05 6:36 pm  · 
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

a tutor chucked one of my brothers models off a balcony.
as a tutor myself, i routinely take a knife to student models to 'improve' them. (usually only when its patently obvious that they have spent very little time on it)

Apr 24, 05 6:58 pm  · 

neither of these were my crits but were crits that I observed

"your project looks like something that's been through a trash compactor"

"this space that you've designed is the type place where beggars and dogs go to die"

Apr 24, 05 7:01 pm  · 

As legend has it, one of our most respected professors once asked a student to go get a glass of water during a crit. The student returned to her model being on fire on the studio floor. Good thing she had a glass of water.

Apr 24, 05 7:04 pm  · 

"are you in interior design?"

Apr 24, 05 8:31 pm  · 

aaronUF, best story ever. I laughed out loud at the thought of that model on fire, even though it must have been horrifying for the girl involved!

Apr 24, 05 8:35 pm  · 

When I heard that story it was by a Cooper Union grad who claimed that he saw this happen there, with Raimund Abraham as the critic.

Apr 24, 05 8:55 pm  · 

Recently had a professor use a sexual metaphor while trying to describe one of my classmates projects....don't remember the exact words, but basically he likened their design process to the physical act of getting blue balls, except much more graphic. I really had trouble keeping it together in that crit.

This is always a good one too: professor listens to presentation, waits about a minute in silence, then simply asks "why are you studying architecture if you're producing things like that?" I've actually seen this happen on more than one occassion, never turned out well.

Apr 24, 05 9:06 pm  · 

in my undergrad days the profs were very harsh and fairly regularly told students they should forget the architectural profession. harsh but a good incentive to work hard.

but the worst crit I ever saw was from a guest prof who lacked both wit and interpersonal skills. She ripped into a student's thesis project so incompetently that the student audience (which was large, as the project was interesting) began shouting her down in what turned into a lengthy argument between her and several students over trivialities. She concluded the non-debate by retreating to her chair, close to tears (i think from shame, though it could have been anger).

Sometimes profs get the idea into their head that they MUST speak even when they have nothing intelligent to say. Luckily my school was filled with better profs than that, but I pity the students that actually had to learn from that lady on a daily basis.

Apr 24, 05 10:45 pm  · 
o+ a fellow students particularly bad project final crit:
" hey, everyone, gather round this project, come in close...because
this is a great example for everyone of exactly what NOT to do.."

...was sweet watching the students gleaming glow of pride turn to
absolute horror in a millisecond..... architecture sucks....

Apr 24, 05 11:18 pm  · 

i was once told my project was "irresponsible"

Apr 24, 05 11:19 pm  · 

ooh, ooh, I forgot about, "This is just so facist". Of course at that point I had not taken arch history yet, so I actually burst out laughing at the idea that they expected me to know what they were talking about. Couldn't help it, just started laughing. Once I got it together, I expained I had no idea what that meant (but of course the tone made it sound bad, as well as the political connotations), but the critic just kept repeating 'facist' over again... At least it was amusing.

Apr 25, 05 12:55 am  · 

I once saw Jeff Kipnis tell a student that he couldn't stand to listen to their presentation any longer because it "is just masturbation" and he got up and walked away.

Apr 25, 05 1:28 am  · 
and I pretty much tore up her entire concept and building. needless to say she was pissed and almost did the crying thing. but I kinda feel bad, I had the best intentions though. even worse she didnt even ask for my opinion. uugghh, oh well.

another hot coed you won't be frogging. May pen rai

Apr 25, 05 6:55 am  · 
"is that an octopus?"

ah. no. It's a cuttlefish, after he's settled down in front of the telly and tossed his bishop's hat into the corner. you didn't think that cuttlefish really have pointy heads, did you?

Apr 25, 05 6:58 am  · 
a tutor chucked one of my brothers models off a balcony.

the classic aerodynamic stability test.

Apr 25, 05 6:59 am  · 
"your project looks like something that's been through a trash compactor"

you were so young, yet already your designs were one step beyond gehry, according to many archinectors. :-)

"this space that you've designed is the type place where beggars and dogs go to die"

niche design, below the radar. blah-blah

Apr 25, 05 7:02 am  · 

a professor once told one of my studio mates...

"this looks like a suburban dentist's office"

the project site was 6th avenue in manhattan.

Apr 25, 05 8:10 am  · 

After breathlessly discribing some device I had made with glass and mirrors, my professor said "So...why should I care about your project?" I expected her usual harshness but not THAT.

Apr 25, 05 10:00 am  · 

to one of my classmates...
"this looks like something i could buy at home depot.."
after he presented what was basically a was
supposed to be a car dealership.

of course the same student when asked where his model
was said:
"i really don't think you need a model if you draw a really
good axonometric..."

i don't think he made it into fifth year...or even fourth.

Apr 25, 05 10:32 am  · 

creepiest fellow student ever:
a kid who, instead of working on his project, was creating
a was in a plexiglass case with a mercury switch...
designed to be left on a doorstop or the like...when moved
the mercury moves, creates the connection and 'boom'

for some reason i was ok with it because he told me 'he'd never
actually arm it...' that was in 96 too before even atlanta....

Apr 25, 05 10:36 am  · 

A professor was having a love affair with one of his students. During her crit, 1/5 of the work on the wall were his hand drawings- the project was bascially his. The guest panel caught onto this immediately and the crit turned into a critique of the prof. The prof was so uncomfortable with this that he stood back and pretended to check his phone for messages.

Apr 25, 05 10:38 am  · 

Here are a few that I have heard while waiting my turn in front of the fireing squad:

A guy was presenting a he said the word "like" and the "uh" after every other word during his presentation. After stumbling around for about 8 minutes he finally finshed. My professor looks to him and says, "That was the worst presentation I have ever heard. The only way to make that presentation worth listening to is if you passed out while giving it." Then the professor looks to the class and says, "Don't ever give a presentation like that. So who wants to go next?"

Same semester, we were all sent away from the room after placing our models on the floor. We all com back 5 minutes later and the models are in 3 piles. The professor tells us to stand next to the pile that has our model in it. After we all did this, the professor says as she points, "This is the "A" pile, this is the "C" pile, and this is the "F" piles and the students that need to rethink their architectural career."


After students had spent many days and many nights on model, they all took them outside and placed them on a step of a building. The professor tells them to stand directly behind the model they built on the step above it. Then he tells them to jump on their model and if they didn't jump they fail. Needless to say there were a lot of upset people.

Apr 25, 05 10:45 am  · 

Another one that just hit me.


A persons drawings were so bad that a professor who is known for saying only nice things to students says, "This drawing isn't worth the paper it is printed on."

Apr 25, 05 10:49 am  · 

there are some really bad students out there. there are equally just as bad crits/architects out there. when they are put into a critique at the same time, however- there is NO scale to show how bad it could be.

"this project makes me want to not be here right now. As a matter of fact I'm leaving."

"..if I rip this piece off- ahh- there. that looks better, eh?"

as a crit looks down at the floor, full head bowed, slowly shaking head in disbelief "i just can't quite fathom how you've made it to fourth year. I just don't..."

says a crit to his friend, the professor of the class "you made me miss jury duty for this sh*t?"

Apr 25, 05 11:01 am  · 

followed by my professor stepping on my final model

Apr 25, 05 11:08 am  · 
sweet em

An innocent classmate of mine, innocent as in "never left the garden", designed a health club that:
in elevation looked like a bottom,
in section looked like women's breasts, wait let me rephrase that, hooker's breasts,
and in plan looked like male genitalia.

He worked home so no one saw it until final crit and he didn't realize what it looked like until it was posted on the wall, we were all so sleep deprived we laughed the entire time and I have no idea what the crit said.

Apr 25, 05 11:52 am  · 

(with a strong norwegian accent)

" reminds me of a saturday night live skit called bad idea."

later in the same crit...

"your model reminds me of a cubist pinnochio."

Apr 25, 05 11:53 am  · 

We had a teacher once that continuesly told us what to do, shouting his orders like we were in the military. The group did what he told them but I didn't and just made my own project, not his. Result; no grade. I didn' even get a 1 (=F, we have 1 to 10 scale), they simply refused to grade me. (I felt like lisa simpson; grade me , grade me!)

Anyway, the best project of each group was invited for an exhibition. But the No1 guy in our group didn't want to, saying: "I hate my project and don't want anybody to see it". No2 the same and so on...nobody wanted to show their project in the exhibit except me, but I wasn't allowed. Made me understand why this was the most hated guy in the school.

A few years later I saw an obituary in the school journal; he had passed away. Turned out his body had been in his house for several weeks before he was found...nobody missed him! As much as I hated the guy, nobody deserves such an ending...

Apr 25, 05 12:13 pm  · 

rutger...thats really depressing

Apr 25, 05 12:19 pm  · 

It is...

Apr 25, 05 12:26 pm  · 

an end came to him, before an end to himself..

this thread is great..

Apr 25, 05 12:27 pm  · 
el jeffe

a visitng critic once said to a classmate - "these are the most graphically naive drawings i've evere seen. i'm though talking about tis project."
he was correct....

Apr 25, 05 12:34 pm  · 

not a crit, but there was one teacher at my school who used to make his students rank each other, 1-12, then averaged the rankings together and posted them on the wall!!! The guy at the bottom of the list got so f*ing depressed about it, and I know one girl who was on the lower end of it who is still convinced that she can't design even though she gets decent grades and crits. Actually I've heard from students in other years that he did that for several studios. Fortunately, he doesn't work here anymore.

Apr 25, 05 12:39 pm  · 

rationalist...only thing that system could really do effectively,
in my mind, is knock some egotistical students down a peg
or two...

most memorable crit:
a prof of mine said...i feel as though you've invited me to
thanksgiving dinner and you've given me a lot of pumpkin
pie, but not enough turkey...i think i got his point, but i still
like the line.

he also had a lazy eye so you could never really tell if he was
really looking at you or not..which made for some amusement/

also, i was in a hallway once unbeknownst sp? to some critiquers
who were looking at my 5th year drawings...they'd seen me in 3rd year...basically said something along the line of 'he was so good in
3rd year...what happened..? may have crushed me if i didn't
agree with them a bit...thankfully it was only mid year and i had
a chance to improve before graduation.

Apr 25, 05 12:48 pm  · 


Where the hell did you go to school?!?!?

Apr 25, 05 1:22 pm  · 

it was common for the studio to get together at the ned of the quarter and have critiques at the professors house. the projects were to be presented after dinner in front of a few invitees and the other students. well the host professor was known to provide plent of spirits and good food so by the end of the meal everyone is feeling fesitve and enjoying their full belly's. about halfway through the critiques there was one partiulcar student who had these beautiful drawings up on the wall and an exquisite bass wood model in the middle of the dinner table. the crit was was going rather well; there hadn't been one critical remark towards the design, presentation, etc. well the host professor was sitting there during the entire crit (not saying much but) thinking to himself that there's no way this student is getting away this easy. so he starts to pepper the student with questions especiallay how the roof is going to shed water. the student goes into this long speal but the professor doesn't pay him much attention, instead he's eyeing the spagetti sauce ladle sitting next to him. he decides he is going to test the water shedding ability and proceeds to fill a ladle full of red sauce and pour all over the model. need-less-to-say everyone on the room froze. the student looked at the host professor and exclaimed "you fucker!" at that, the whole room erupted into laughter.

Apr 25, 05 2:33 pm  · 

that's hilarious. some profs here have end of the semester get-togethers, but usually after the crit.

Apr 25, 05 2:36 pm  · 
Devil Dog

architecture professors, much like Marine Corp drill instructors are masochists and take pleasure in other's pain. but, unlike their Corp breathren, they're not tough. consequently, my studio professors got to say what they thought and i got to say what i thought. i only got one bad crit a year from the new professor before they learned that their crit style would be very painful for them. any of that stupid model jumping or F pile of models would not be tolerated. since most of my class were older students who arguably had more life experience that almost all of the professors, we didn't put up with any of that shit. now that i've been out and working for some time, i can honestly say that almost all professors at any school don't really know how a building goes together. they can wax on and on about theory but when it really comes to the profession, they have no clue about how documents are put together, presentation in the real world, project management, budget, etc.

i'm on really great terms with my alma mater and several of my professors. i think they know that i didn't put up with their bullshit and now know so much more about the profession then they pretended to know for the students.

Apr 25, 05 7:34 pm  · 
Devil Dog

oh yeah, there's some funny ass crit stories in hear. i can only imagine seeing them live and thinking what i would have done.

funny shit.

Apr 25, 05 7:35 pm  · 

devil dog...

"i can honestly say that almost all professors at any school don't really know how a building goes together"

i can honestly say that i don't think you're anywhere near correct....
maybe the TAs and some first year profs...but most profs that i had had
been built...and were working on active projects.

Apr 25, 05 8:36 pm  · 

I would say the better the school, the less the instructors know about actually building shit. This is not a criticism. One can imagine the perfect school, in which no one builds anything at all.

Also, in the right context, and in front of colleagues, telling a professor that they are being unprofessional will prevent you from every having to deal with a tantrum again.

Apr 25, 05 8:58 pm  · 

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