Think back ... your studio sequence ... and how good it was (or wasn't)


Why not?  School "supposedly" trained us for the world of work.  I have a friend and classmate who is struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, but refuses to leave.  She was one year behind me.  She thinks our design preparation sucked.  I'd go part way with her on that.  Here's my report on the quality of (my) studio instruction, over 7 studios:

  1. - Nice elderly man, not an architect, couldn't help you at all with projects or graphics, and retired the following year.  NOT the way to be immersed into architecture. The most exciting thing, to him,  was his two dogs' birthday, and an intermediate course grade was based on how often you used the word "space" in your presentation, irrespective of the quality of the project.  He told us that AFTER he handed out mid-term grades.  Everyone thought he was a joke.
  2. - Weird, quirky guy, but a very nice person.  A true design intellectual, with great mastery of theory and vocabulary.  I had to corner him into doing some mini-sessions on graphics for us because the dimwit retiree from semester 1 did not.  I viewed this teacher as a friend, and often got his feedback on my work while in other studios.  He was altruistic enough to give me his time.  He was awesome to have on a jury review.
  3. - I got this guy when he was new.  Heavy Beaux Arts bent in his training, but pluralistic in what he allowed.  Got some practical tips from him on the layout of my building (natural lighting, illumination, cantilevering, how to handle long sequences and break up repetition with nodes, etc.). He reportedly turned into an a-hole once he got more confident with his place on the faculty.
  4. - Lazy guy who had his own gig going.  Always late to class.  Two responses:  "yeah, I like that" or "do some more work on that."  Completely hands-off.  We had to master plan the site before being assigned individual buildings, and he liked my master plan and some of my different ideas, so I was on his good side.  Since he was gone a lot and/or when we were there at night, that studio was a zoo.
  5. - German guy.  Supremely smart.  A man of few words.  If you listened for the between the lines message, it was economical, yet said a lot.  He would not hold your hand, nor get too involved.  The variability of the quality of output, at this level, was suboptimal because of that lack of involvement. Somehow, one of my better projects, nonetheless.
  6. - Latin American guy.  More eyewash than smart, though smart enough.  The ONLY serious discord I ever had in a studio with a professor, and in higher education ... ever.  I was about to graduate and had a scheduling conflict, necessitating that I be absent for a very small portion of the very long morning studio, toward the end.  He was toasted.  It only required that he visit me earlier while doing his rounds.  Kudos to the administration.  I had been "low maintenance" over the years, that they told HIM to "deal with it," and supported me.  He gave me one of my few Bs as retaliation.  Since I had recently graduated, I sent a friend who would be there for another term to get my work since he and I would meet up later, coming from the same area.  Within a matter of weeks, he had destroyed both the model (fine) and even the graphics which could have been rolled up (not fine).
  7. - Nice elderly gentleman, trained as an architect/licensed, but with a different bent on practice, and on his studio.  This was my terminal, non-thesis studio, and it involved researching zoning, feasibility, infrastructure, and a lot of dialogue with planning officials and such, that design was downplayed.  I did a large multi-unit housing project.  Got a pat-on-the-back little paper award for it.

That's about 3.5 to 4 marginal professors out of 7.  That's not good.  My friend from NYC does have a point.

Do you remember the patterning and quality of your studio experiences?

Mar 7, 13 2:59 pm

Currently in 4th year B.Arch program :

1. Professor just taught us one thing: after you finish your design, flip your models. That is a better design. All his crits were same: "flips model" "Ah! looks amazing". This was a design fundamentals studio. Our studios were often just an hour long, he would talk about how he has to run to the bank and he ran to the bank. All we learned was Sketchup. Worst introduction to architecture. People had models with duct tape as their final model. 

2. Summer design fundamentals - Amazing young guy. Very passionate, he made it clear that loves architecture. taught us how to think or approach a design. Very strict about attendance. gave us great model making techniques because the other guy didn't teach us anything.

3. Old lady, highly educated and interested in baroque architecture. She was a great artist and a curator of a famous local museum. She wasn't strict at all. She taught us site analysis and designing through sections. Previous guy taught us designing through models, we made drawings in the last week for his class.

4. Young passionate lady, she was very helpful. Our studio was in morning 9-12. She stayed in studio till 9 pm. Always there to help, even today I ask her for advice. She taught us how to think conceptually.  She cared a lot about the big concept. I was one of her favorites. She absolutely hated that duct tape model student.

5. new professor, GSD grad. She was amazing with precedents, highly knowledgeable. She taught us smart planning and some sustainable design.

6. As*hole Prof. He teaches from 10+ year but he didnt care what we did. he was amazing at first, he taught us all technicalities. He expected us to know everything. Very strict about time. He commutes a lot to get to the campus. One day he came to studio, he saw that few students weren't pinned up. He just left. This was right before a major crit.

7. Young guy, close friend of #4. He was all about diagrams. He taught us how to diagram things. Very helpful. Offered me to work with him.

I have a new professor right now and next year is Thesis so I will have same professor for 1 year. I am planning on taking #4 or #7 for thesis.

Mar 7, 13 4:33 pm

I have a new professor right now and next year is Thesis so I will have same professor for 1 year. I am planning on taking #4 or #7 for thesis.

Sounds like your percentage of good design profs is/was higher than mine, thus far.

Mar 7, 13 5:54 pm
tranz kafka

1- old guy-fuck him. all about line quality and real life.

2- young guy- fuck him. all about poche because ivy league school he went to. 

3- young lady- fuck her. all about maps and diagrams she didn't know anything about. recent ivy school.

4- old lady- fuck her. all about modernism. lived in a mid century house she ones wrote an article on it and calls herself a writer. 

5- young guy- fuck him. real jerk who used the word awesome a lot for the wrong projects.

6- young beautiful lady- flirtatious, really fuck her. mini skirts and exposed breasts. liked flower patterns great deal as urban design, said, urban design must be organic. 

 * I am now working as fucking urban designer.

Mar 7, 13 6:28 pm


That's friggin' dismal.  I hope this wasn't a "good" school.  Funny descriptions, though.

Looking at my 1 through 7, even the good ones were lacking in at least one serious area - pushing graphics, helping you better your design, general involvement, limited viewpoints based on personal preferences, etc.

That's why you really need to look at what OTHER students are doing and at the LITERATURE.

Mar 7, 13 6:33 pm
tranz kafka

"good school" ??? it was as good as it gets in the school market, they are avant-garde and cutting edge! 

Mar 7, 13 6:47 pm

I always thought my professors sucked until I thought about each professor and wrote about them. My school is quite underrated :/

Mar 7, 13 7:57 pm

1. Meh. Hardly remember anything. 2. Young guy, I adored him. I was teacher's pet. My best studio. My work was described as brilliant. 3. Another young guy. I liked him but I don't remember learning much. The project bored me, an interior. 4. Gray haired old school geezer. Only studio teacher I had that had actually practiced. I confused him. He didn't like me or my work. I don't blame him. My work sucked. 5. Lady that resembled a witch. We didn't share any interests at all. My favorite project, but she gave me a C for it. She hated our whole class, and with good reason, long story. 6. Summer studio, design build. There was a teacher, I'm sure there was... But it was mostly just the students self organizing. 7. Middle aged man. Known among students for poor teaching skills and arrogant attitude. The kind of guy that didn't have any friends. 8. Semester abroad - studio teacher was dedicated and helpful! Knew how to give constructive feedback. 9. Diploma project - my professor gave me an F for midterm grade, told me find a different career. We avoided each other for the rest of the semester. Then he gives me one of 2 A's in the class. Still confused about that one. 10. Same Prof as #9. I had a bad case of senioritis. I learned how to design in Studio 2 and again in #8, good thing it only takes 1-2 good teachers to reach a student, too bad that the others couldn't rise to that level. This was a top ten B. Arch program.

Mar 7, 13 11:56 pm

old guy/girl, young guy/girl - All failed in the real world of architecture and ended up teaching.  All talk, no substance.  Mainly there to boost their own ego and make themselves feel good with big words as they rip through models.  Heavy favoritism among the older faculty.  Learnt nothing about real architecture from any of them.  Anything meaningful I've learnt was done on my own, during my own time and through my own research.  I just attended classes to get the degree ;) 

Mar 8, 13 3:07 pm

old guy/girl, young guy/girl - All failed in the real world of architecture and ended up teaching.  All talk, no substance.  Mainly there to boost their own ego and make themselves feel good with big words as they rip through models.  Heavy favoritism among the older faculty.  Learnt nothing about real architecture from any of them.  Anything meaningful I've learnt was done on my own, during my own time and through my own research.  I just attended classes to get the degree ;)

Interesting answer.  Sad that you learned nothing from them.  I wish mine had all been like my instructors 2 and 3, minus the jerkiness that instructor 3 picked up, after I had him, from reports I got.

As for teaching, that's not always the case.  Some people are called to teach and love doing it.  However, the ones who most people like are usually the good teachers.  I have friends who went into teaching the fields they initially studied because they love(d) teaching.

Mar 8, 13 3:30 pm


1. Complete bitch teamed up with a fading academic on his way out. I got along great with the old guy and ironically the complete bitch ended up hiring me after undergrad. She was still a complete bitch and I ended up bailing on her for a greater opportunity. At that next job I was actually seated next to her boyfriend...architecture is a small world.. 

2. Author/Furniture Designer/Practicing Architect - no ego, completely supportive, he kept me in architecture school after a rather rough first studio. We still keep in touch. The first professor who really took an interest in my development, encouraged his students to approach design as a user. Highly beneficial to begin thinking that way early in school.

3. French Academic, came off as very cold to most of her students but we got along great. Again very supportive and she could always tell who put in the time on their projects regardless of "design ability." Those who showed a desire to learn received the most studio time. Interested in classical architecture, I know everyone has had that professor who pushes the classical orders on you. 

4. Failed architect - by far my worst studio, I was lost, he was lost, my classmates were lost. C-, worst grade I ever received in school. 

5. Insane, fun, completely impractical but a fantastic salesman. Anything goes kind of studio. He allowed me to work with my roommate on a collaborative industrial design project. One of the more rewarding projects of my undergrad experience.

5. Environmentalist nut-job but ended up being a great friend. A check-list studio, simply in place to meet NAAB requirements.  She wrote one of my letters for grad school apps and we still keep in touch. 

6. Failed architect + failed academic - Comprehensive design studio, I got screwed on my studio choice and I paid for it. Complete waste of what could have been a valuable studio/portfolio piece.

7. Failed architect who decided to become an asshole academic - I still hate this piece of shit with a passion. Pretty sure he's dead, if he's not, then I hope he is soon. Miserable human being. He somehow taught there for over 40 years. 

Grad school

8. Long time academic, probably should have been a poet. Interesting studio, not interested at all in practicality. One of those studios where the prettiest pictures win. We got along great though. 

9. Purely academic without the ego. He was actually great friends with the asshole professor from my #4 studio but at a different school. Extremely critical and offended a lot of students...but he was honest. Students with thicker skin got the A's.

10. Right-wing, birther, who writes books about global warming being a hoax - not only were most of his view out of this world, his studio topic was lunar design. After you learned to handle him and chuckle behind his back he became tolerable. Great studio for getting out your extreme ideas, he did a good job of bringing things back to reality...even for a lunar design studio...

11/12. Thesis - hated by most, understood by few. Anything but an architect, with a resume longer than this thread. Extremely critical and often times inappropriate. She loved to find one flaw in your project and beat you down with it for weeks, even after you made changes. She's a pretty terrible person but we hit it off for some reason. Ended up with one of the two A's and overall a great thesis project. Our paths will cross again in practice. 

In the end, studio did very little to prepare me for the "real world." However, networking is one of the greatest things you can learn in school. Specifically, keeping in touch with professors who respect you and understand your dreams/desires can certainly lead to rewards in practice. 

Mar 8, 13 5:29 pm

Wow - I can honestly say I learned a LOT from my studio projects, mostly programming and the relationships of adjacent space relationships, and secondly, for constructability - which went from nothing to something, as the structures sequence progressed.

By studio:

1.  some artsy-fartsy sculptures which were not habitable, a cube which we manipulated into a building, a residence

2.  rowhouses, a community center

3. an academic building

4. a site master plan and a sizable hotel

5. a museum

6. a multi-function performing arts center and a free-standing performing arts stage in a park or other setting

7. multi-family housing (my terminal project)

The projects were great.  The instruction and involvement was "teach yourself," for the most part.

Mar 10, 13 11:54 am

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