Are american architects better?


Many foreign students that go to the United States for a semester are very impressed by the way we Americans study architecture. First of all, it seems that we produce more work and study harder than what is done in Europe. We spend twice as much hours in studio than the I've heard from many foreign/exchange students. What we have to produce in 6 months, they have to produce in a year. What surprised me completely is that most foreign students I've spoke to find that we have more architectural design knowledge and a better technical background than they. Does this automatically means that we are better architects than, lets say, Europeans, or are we just better prepared coming out of college.

Feb 27, 06 5:15 pm

Based on my limited experience, the students in the Chinese architecture programs (particularly Tshinghua University) make the US students look like slackers.

Feb 27, 06 5:19 pm

I'd have to say it would depend greatly on which schools in particular you're comparing. I know that we've had some Italian students come to UC and their graphics skills were very impressive. I'll be traveling to India to study at the CEPT institute this winter, so that will also provide another vantage point.
Unfortunately, by that time, I doubt many people will still be reading this thread

Feb 27, 06 5:30 pm

i think your post must read 'are american architecture STUDENTS better?'

you'd know if you got out of your school and took a look at 'american architecture' in practice.
Though Id definately say that American schools teach how to THINK real quickly and efficiently

Feb 27, 06 5:36 pm




Feb 27, 06 5:49 pm

The American students I met/worked with from Sci-arc and MIT, did work pretty hard. There was alot of emphasis on production, particularly built models and detail models, using basswood etc.

In NZ and Australia, there was more emphasis on idea development and theoretical argument, and very little production requirements in terms of amount of drawings/models etc. In my final year, all of my presentations were digital, using a projector and 3d models. There was a freedom of medium and expression, provided you got your point across.

I could mount an argument about working smarter not harder, but I wont go there.

Feb 27, 06 6:03 pm

From experience and I won't go into better or worse...

I spent sometime at MIT just before the summer break in 2001, and was able to interact with the grad students. I remarked at how much they were doing, and that there was little time to turn projects around avg about 3-4 weeks...which meant that they could shoot out 3 projects a semester. At the time I had just completed my first year of grad school - and had only done 5 projects for the year.

No obvious conclusion, but alot of the work I felt wasn't developed - personally. But I think that might of had more to do with the timing that anything else...but damn they created alot of stuff; multiple models, variant solutions, shit load of analysis...and the work was very initimate. Something you never say whilst studying...

but those were students....

Feb 27, 06 6:47 pm

good architects everywhere .

good students everywhere too. education here in japan is 180 degrees different from what i did when i was in grad school in canada. BUT the good students stand out.

there were maybe 3 or 4 students who stood out back in canada, and the same goes here. education doesn't count as much as one might think.

Feb 27, 06 7:44 pm

they make better lovers

Feb 27, 06 8:32 pm

I'm sure I should say something about this last post, but I won't. Actually, somebody should stop this whole thread!

At the same time, I did go to school in the us for a while, and I enjoyed it. There definitely was a lot more time spent on drawings and model building, more time in studio in general. Not enough time spent on reflexion and project argumentation, social sciences, basic program critic and stuff like that though. It felt more like a good training for working in a firm and be as productive as possible than it does in France, but it doesn't genrate the same intellectual development than in most European schools.
but that's only my point of view...

Feb 28, 06 6:48 am

its a ridiculous question. architectural knowledge is not all about having a sound technical background or spending unending studio hours.

yes, its important to an extent, but what counts is the ability of the person to provide solutions with the limited resources in hand. its about people and designing for people. having a sound technical problem alone will not asure one in serving clients better.

i would call someone a better architect, who understands the nature of the architectural problems in the society and puts forth better solutions. some of the leading architects in todays`s world are all not all americans. there is something to learn form everything and nothing can be underestimated.

probably, american students are more geared when it comes to the technical front, but its not all. attitudes of people are different and are more subjective to their location. architectural education is geared to serve people of that particular domain and may not be universal.

Feb 28, 06 11:03 am

is american architecture better???

Feb 28, 06 12:44 pm

I used to believe that only American students were the best at binge drinking. Then I visited colleges in Canada and Germany. Now I think American students are light drinkers.

Feb 28, 06 1:16 pm

how about a different question...

in a world that is becoming more and more global, is there a difference anymore?

trying to determine if there is one nationality or culture that produces better architects is ridiculous. there are dedicated and talented people everywhere.

Feb 28, 06 1:23 pm

The best architects come from the school of Philip RK Nixon

Feb 28, 06 1:30 pm

obviously it's impossible to generalise but from mies and corb right up to koolhaas and herzog&de meuron the americans would be hard pushed to match us europeans...

Feb 28, 06 2:57 pm

the most productive architects nowdays are all but not american, but usa is a good environment to develop their ideas.

Frank gehry is canadian.
calatrava is spanish.
zaha haidid & Foster are english.
Piano is italian.
MMDRV & Koolhaas are dutch.
Philippe starck & jean nouvel are french.
Tadao Ando, Arata Isozaki, Toyo Ito are japanese.

but i think it's a mere matter of passport, because they all are influenced by the global architectural environment we are living in.

Feb 28, 06 6:17 pm


Feb 28, 06 9:37 pm

American architects are terrible, and our training is abhorrent. Any decent american firm is filled with foreign labor...

There's a reason so many architecture firms are now outsourcing their production to places like argentina and india: there are fewer mistakes, better training, less attitude and the labor is cheaper than in the US.

American architecture is only good at talking itself into irrelevancy at the moment.

Feb 28, 06 10:00 pm

Something to be considered, good, better, best. True great Architects
are not of a Country, not educated, they are because they are. Great
Architects are not what you see in the press they are people struggling with everything possible and impossible in their day to day lives. Architecture is not as shallow as a nation or an education. Schools teach us Theory and how to design buildings that provide for the health welfare and safety of the occupants. We are shallow in what we think are great architects by what we see in the press or on the internet. I can tell you there are individuals working out there in the trenches everyday who create and develop projects which bring joy to the live of clients they work for. Clients, homeless shelters, community centers, schools, banks. Is every project cutting edge"
No and neither is every budget, but solutions are sought to bring forth
a quality of life which is only understood by Architecture. I take my hat off to every Architect who understands of what I speak.

Feb 28, 06 11:04 pm


Mar 1, 06 12:05 am

"the most productive architects nowdays are all but not american, but usa is a good environment to develop their ideas."

thats bullshit

Mar 1, 06 1:14 am
Unfortunately, by that time, I doubt many people will still be reading this thread

i think some recently revived treads began in 2004, so you can bookmark this thread, and 'bump' it next winter.

Mar 1, 06 1:30 am

artists are born, not programmed

Mar 1, 06 1:34 am

One thing though.
As a person who decided to pursue architecture
after two years of liberal ats college,
if M.Arch required previous studies in architecture,
i wouldn't even consider going to architecture school.
I really appreciate the M.Arch being a first professional degree here.
(Besides I am from Korea where bachelor's degree is a must
to get regiestered)

Mar 1, 06 10:33 am

check out the Chan Chan thread. there is a breakdown by country of those who participated. only one american project received an honorable mention. not that this really proves anything because France had three times the number of participants.

Mar 1, 06 10:43 am

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