Worst Crit Ever?


So, you wrap up your presentation and this is the response.

I would have gone home and cried. Is Eisenmann a jerk or what?

Anyone willing to defend his behavior toward this student?


Jun 1, 13 7:53 pm

Not that I like Eisenmann or any of his work... I think that is just a small part of the whole crit.  Who knows what else they've talked about and what the student's project actually looks like. 

Frankly, I've learnt more after a rough crit in uni.  It makes me go back and think what could I have done differently, what doesn't work, what is the truth..  Too many students live in a false reality where the panel judges a work based on the person and not what they have created.  How a crit goes also doesn't reflect the student's mark for the project (in my school atleast).  Crits are just a discussion.  However, I'd hate to be in this student's shoes if the crit panel were required to fill out a grading form like some school's have. 

Jun 1, 13 8:31 pm

Eisenman and the young lady he's talking about have a lot in common, neither of them have a Pritzker. 

Jun 1, 13 9:33 pm

And they are both apes.  

Jun 2, 13 1:11 am
chatter of clouds

eisenman blames wolf. wolf blames student (yup he does at one point). student stands no chance.

Jun 2, 13 2:16 am

and this is just one of the b.s we have to put up with in this profession xD

Jun 2, 13 4:43 am

You kids are too sensitive. It's brutal, yes, but his points are valid; Fuller sucked, and certain fundamental issues should be demonstrated, especially by grad students. Yet again, probably another student, that has posted a thread here regarding which grad school to attend. She selected the wrong one. 

Jun 2, 13 10:39 am

nothing eisenmann has ever said is valid or worth thinking about even a little bit.  if the student gave eisenmann any credit, she will be worth less to her family and community for it.  wolf was wrong for letting that idiot speak to other people to begin with.  eisenmann should be shunned from all polite society.

seriously, he used the word "bourgeois" in a studio crit, and he used it to describe himself and the student instead of the project.  

when he said "as long as i'm here, i might as well give the full measure of my devotion" someone should have kicked him in the nuts and dragged him out back to the garbage bin.  or at the very least tap his nose with a rolled up newspaper like the cur he is.

what i think this really illustrates is that students should remember they are often more intelligent and capable than the people in their studio crits. 

Jun 2, 13 11:29 am

^Lol. Peter would benefit from a good old kick in the nuts. That the problem, no one ever puts these assholes in their place. 

Jun 2, 13 12:45 pm

Meh, you're all full of shit. None of you would have enough sack to say anything like that to Petey in a crit, none of you. 

Jun 2, 13 2:29 pm
chatter of clouds

he does come across as quite the conservative, as he himself had acknowledged. perhaps it was just not in his best place to be in a wolf prix studio, irrespective of the quality of the student's work.

Jun 2, 13 2:46 pm

One of my co-workers went to Penn -Ole' Uncle Pete  ripped her face too

Jun 2, 13 3:17 pm

"You kids are too sensitive. It's brutal, yes, but his points are valid" 

Getting torn to shreds at a crit is one thing- that's architecture school. Had he said "your project sucks and here's why..." , that would have been brutal- but, he didn't even have that decency to acknowledge the student's existence.  He isn't "quite the conservative," he's an ass, who hijacked the crit so that he could mug for a camera.

Thank god I don't like his architecture or writing, or I'd be conflicted about the guy.  Straight up contempt requires a lot less thought.  

But, no, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to call him on his shit.

Jun 2, 13 3:29 pm

Peter has a small Peter. 

Jun 2, 13 4:10 pm
chatter of clouds

by conservative, i mean his criteria and not his attitude or behaviour.

actually, i still see that Eisenman is directly engaging Wolf Prix. The suggestion made is that the teacher has not inculcated values wthin his student that Eisenman himself esteems.

yes, Eisenman comes across as rather snooty and his ego style (no i dont want to say egoistic style)  might seem to taint valid concerns that he has . but in my opinion, the student was sidelined not out of disrespect to her person or her efforts. peter cries wolf. its wolf's fault in peter's eyes. wolf flusters. he says something i don't care for from a teacher. in my opinion, wolf prix is the one who comes out the worse for it.

Jun 2, 13 4:19 pm

ha Peter and the Wolf. 

I love when E calls buckminsterfuller's work shit because it doesn't work programmaticly... oh kettle how  you call the pot black... 


Jun 2, 13 4:40 pm

Peter has a small Peter.

That's funny.  People make that association with people who are Machiavellian as if they are trying to overcompensate.  Maybe prosecuting attorneys have that problem, too, so they can be barracudas, but without the ... you know.

I've never had a really bad crit.  I will still never forget hearing about the accusation of "mental masturbation" in one crit that escalated into a shouting match.

The one crit that pissed me off was the creation of an entertainment center (performance hall + attached education building and offices) that was supposed to kick off an urban renewal for a sleepy town.  Mine was mostly volumetric and had some curved curtain wall segments up front.  One crit told me it was too spendy for the town under consideration.  No one handed us a budget.

What's amazing is that students can get so far into a project, given that there should be monitoring by a professor, only to get ripped in a crit.  Theoretically, that shouldn't happen often in a good school and with good professors.

Jun 2, 13 4:54 pm

I think that the crit was about HIM and an opportunity to grandstand.  (I detest two of his most signature like works:  Cincy School of Arch. and Columbus OH convention center).  How can he make an accusation that this young lady doesn't know the difference between Palladio and Borromini?  Has he observed her in history classes?  A review is only beneficial when it addresses both the macro and micro aspects of a student's design.  He seemed too self-absorbed to even discuss what was in front of him.  If it continued like this, he was a pompous ass and the crit was absolutely useless.  This is exactly the kind of shit that makes architecture look "flaky."

Jun 2, 13 5:07 pm

What's amazing is that students can get so far into a project, given that there should be monitoring by a professor, only to get ripped in a crit.  Theoretically, that shouldn't happen often in a good school and with good professors.

Given the variety of perspectives on architecture, there will always be those who operate with an opposing methodology to the premise of any given course and thus have no place in it's reviews. However, they will end up there, and it will be a disaster.

Jun 2, 13 5:13 pm

Given the variety of perspectives on architecture, there will always be those who operate with an opposing methodology to the premise of any given course and thus have no place in it's reviews. However, they will end up there, and it will be a disaster.

Let's see if I'm understanding you.  Are you saying that there's sort of an overall span of what is acceptable in studio designs, and that renegades and nonconformists stand their ground with their profs and other students, and push their design project through until the end?  Even in a conventional school, that happens.  What I've seen happen is that, most of the time, they do get ripped at the end, when crits seeing it for the first time are introduced into the mix, and on a rare few occasions, they are lauded for their "innovation."  Some quirky projects are in fact good.  Most aren't.

Jun 2, 13 5:43 pm

I think some peope have a difficult time in hearing, especially when they loathe someone so much. Peter, in my estimation, by keeping the student out of the discussion, and talking to Prix, was aiming his barbs at the pedagogical aspects of an architectural education, or lack thereof. And, I imagine that this student, at least by the way Pete made reference to it, is most likely a grad without a barch, which only further makes his point on mark. If she doesn't have the basics, then how could she possibly understand where she is going? As for Fuller, to knowing how to get into that fucking dome always irritated the shit out of me. I've like Pete's work, both writing, and architecture. I also happened to like his interviews too, see the latest architect newspaper.

Jun 2, 13 6:36 pm

Regardless of how crappy the students project was, he acted like an arrogant prick.  Arrogance reflects a real lack of perspective.  A real master should carry themself in a yoda like manner rather than act like a catty reality show character. 

Jun 2, 13 6:57 pm

Can you imagine a real master like kahn or ando acting this way?  As an architectural atheist I have a really hard time stomaching these self proclaimed gods. 

Jun 2, 13 7:04 pm

think some peope have a difficult time in hearing, especially when they loathe someone so much. Peter, in my estimation, by keeping the student out of the discussion, and talking to Prix, was aiming his barbs at the pedagogical aspects of an architectural education, or lack thereof. 

No, that was pretty clear.  All the high-design schools are far from vocational, so he shouldn't reserve that criticism for this particular faculty.  If it's a high design school at which it is hard to gain admission, the student knows the difference between Palladio and Borromini.

Access: yes, a lot of crits are an opportunity to yank out the nails more so than to be constructive. 

From the brief look at the project, it seemed more like sculpture than a habitable building, but we don't know the program, nor the level of instruction.  It could have been for a signature type structure for a city node, in the same vein as the Gateway Arch, which still would have invited questions as to "why" and "how."

Jun 2, 13 7:05 pm

I have heard stories of the old school reviews, where crits involved red markers (pre sharpie maybe, never really asked) and lots of markup on that hand drawn presentation. At one point students started overlaying a sheet of acetate over drawings to try to preserve the original presented concept. Then there are reviews like this, where this level of diatribe was dished out buffet style to anyone in the blast range. It's brutality at it's simplest form.

Then you think about it. In numerous conversations, I have seen that finger pointing happen. The profession blames the academics for under prepped new fledglings while the academics blame the profession for their meat grinder borg like state of mind. It's a self perpetuating cycle of blame and in the middle you have the students on the academics and maybe critics. If you really want to voice your dissatisfaction with whatever metric you choose, a studio crit is not quite the podium. Then you throw in the faculty beat down. I don't know enough to tell if that was called for or not but there is the right time and place to have that conversation. 

If bringing a high ranking reviewer like this, leaves a radioactive glaze in students minds, then maybe schools should simply not invite those reviewers anymore. This is not kindergarten, I agree, but this is no battle royale.

Jun 2, 13 8:30 pm

People are too smart these days, IMHO, to be fooled by pompous bullshit, architecture students included.  Smart people want facts and actionable data, not grandstanding, rockstar posing and faux education.  It's no wonder architecture is dying out if people are taking people like Eisenman and his ilk seriously.

Thanks for the entire post.  As someone who went to grad school, from an unrelated academic field where the was low(er) ego investment, building of self-esteem, objective criteria, and egalitarian access to professors and visitors from industry, some of the shenanigans in architecture school, such as the reviews, and the drama in the studios were an eye-opener.  I was lucky to sit in on reviews for my peers and I which were largely civil but, good God, some of the ones which went down for other studios hit the "grapevine" in no time flat.  Crazy ... and unprofessional.

Jun 2, 13 9:21 pm

Thanks timothy, someone needed to say that.

Oh, and I would've said something to him. Me and my big mouth like to get in trouble though.

Jun 2, 13 10:15 pm

Oh, and I would've said something to him. Me and my big mouth like to get in trouble though.

I would have, too, and given that I was a grad student who had worked prior, I would have tried to say it diplomatically.  I always stood my ground in reviews.

And, yes, you've alluded to the fact that I can be a dick.  That's ok.  I thought it was funny.

Jun 2, 13 10:23 pm

obs - excellent. I meant it to be funny, glad you see it that way.

Jun 2, 13 10:38 pm

Obs - I think that is what any grad student would have done. Diplomacy or not. Yes, because he is who he is, I can see some classmates choosing to bite their tongue (or not), out of fear of the grapevine outside of school. It should go without saying that in this day and age, any concerns about the 'quality' of teaching and learning should be discussed in closed or open letters to faculty / deans from the profession. The profession buckles under this kind of ego weight.

More schools will get smart and create incubator studios like we are starting to see and the dynamic will have to change.

Jun 3, 13 12:23 am
Erik Evens (EKE)

A.  Eisenman is an ass.

B.  If he had addressed the student directly, and told her in a clear way why he thought her project was not up to par, she might have learned something.

Jun 3, 13 1:11 am

Does it matter that much?  The YouTube comments indicate that it might have been at AA, with a (?).  Assume this is at an East Coast school.  If a mature person diplomatically defended their design, ok, maybe they couldn't work for his office, and a couple of others.  But I'm sure that a corporate firm somewhere else which operates on a different wavelength from Eisenman(n) wouldn't weigh that, let alone even hear about it.  Sometimes, I think doing architecture in grad school is a good thing.  As a 19 or 20 year old, a kid could be more easily intimidated and unlikely to realize that starchitects wipe their asses, too.  If one is a 25 or 26 year old, and have some miles on him or her, that will come across during the review and the way it plays out might change.  Might.

This is a tangent:  I know a person who did a MBA at a good school in a more conservative part of the country.  He told me that a major bank, in that general area, came onto campus to interview and "introduced" marital status, or prospective marital status, into the interview.  That's just wrong.  I got the feeling that if a person told the interviewer to fuck off, they would have been barred from using the MBA placement office's services.  Had that happened at a b-school the likes of Stanford, Berkeley, or NYU, the placement office would tell the major bank to get THEIR act together or they couldn't interview their students.

Jun 3, 13 1:14 am

Timothy, thanks for using Comp Sci to make your point, it reminded me why I stayed away from shitty programs like Comp Sci. Another thing, since when has going to architecture school, paying loads of money, suffering ridiculously insane schedules, laboring under task masters like Prix, not been a benefit to students? Students, obviously more wealthy ones, have paid to work for PE and others, yes that's right; paid to work for THEM. The crit is a teaching method, just not the teaching method you're wanting. PE taught a lesson, schooled Prix, and the student. Now, you can call PE names, but I think he did her a favor; if she sucked, then perhaps she'll move on, and not waste any more time, incur more debt and create shitty Bucky-tecture.

I still say you're all full of it though; i've sat in crits, with my peers, and have seen much worse happen, and no one has said a damn thing.

Jun 3, 13 9:21 am

beta, i can't tell if that's sarcasm or not.

PE did not teach wolf a lesson.  if there was some conversation between eisenmann and prix regarding his teaching style that eisenmann felt needed to be said, he should have said it to prix on their own time.  to chastise the professor in a public forum like that is unprofessional and just not the sort of thing a person with any leadership experience would do.  eisenmann, prix, and the student were all there to discuss the student's project; eisenmann is just too stupid to understand that so he thought it was all about his own glorification.  PE never even spoke to the student.  the student isn't going to learn anything by eavesdropping on their conversation.  the student isn't going to learn anything from eisenmann anyway, because eisenmann is dumber than the student to begin with.

i have said things to professors in crits that were not necessarily in my best interest.  i like to think i've learned to bite my tongue on occasion since then.  however, i admit if presented with this crit during school, i may not have said much because i didn't have the breadth of experience eisnemann had.  even then though, i would not have felt bad because (whether it was a starchitect or not) it's fairly clear he doesn't have any credibility.  if i met eisenmann today, i would treat him with less respect than i treat a mcdonald's cashier when my order is wrong and late or a parking meter cop writing me a ticket because i missed adding a quarter by a minute.

Jun 3, 13 9:47 am

curt, i don't think PE pays any mind to me, you, or anyone else. Say what you want about PE, at least he hasn't worked for corrupt regimes, dictators, fascists, excetera. You want to beat someone up in a crit, take on Remmy, Danny, Holl, or Zaha, then we can talk, but this petty bs, especially about the critical process, is, well, dubious.

Jun 3, 13 9:54 am

Trying to teach by embarrassing and shaming is sooo... I don't know.... right wing republican.


Jun 3, 13 10:03 am

^ now that's funny.

Jun 3, 13 10:06 am

Good for that other professor to step in and lessen the blow.  Not everyone is a teacher.  I think this blowhard Wolf has something valid and most likely necessary to convey, however, he doesn't know (or at least show) how to communicate it properly.  I think it's easy to get swept up in the moment to use metaphors especially in a profession where symbolism is equivalent to genius, however comparing her to a monkey with a type writer is classless.  If he said that about a different race, it would be viral and more widely condemned.

Crits are extremely important.  Most of the time it becomes stand up comedy hour for an aging Architect.  There are other times it becomes a significant step in someone's career when they hear praise for a hard thought out design concept and presentation.  Sometimes, I think the University Professor may need to remind these guys during their lunch before the Crit that their here to cultivate, not denigrate. 

God I hope my kids don't turn out like the Kardashians...

Jun 3, 13 10:10 am

you know how i KNOW with absolute certainty none of you would say boo? take a look at the other critics, what are they saying? what do they have to lose if they say something? where is their outrage? are they too sucking off the Teat of Pete? as for the monkey, he could have said a blind squirrel and finding a nut, but the point is, just because you wrap your crap with a PB&J, doesn't make a tasty sandwich; it's just crap with a tasty wrapper.

Jun 3, 13 10:25 am

Wouldn't say boo? Boo. What if I said, "Ya, I am boo-zwah! But I usually don't get super crazy booze-wild till later!" With a little jiggity-jig whilst tipping a fake bottle towards my lips.

You're right b3ta, I wouldn't have really said that. I would've said it to myself, then smiled enthusiastically at him and said, "I see. Okay, thanks!"

Jun 3, 13 11:36 am

(as if I misunderstood bourgeois!)

Jun 3, 13 11:55 am

The vid shows one thing.  It supports a friend's observation.  She is a hick (sorry, but true) with a B.Arch. from a decent school, has ZERO interest in design, should work for a contractor, but commented "Architecture is the least professional of the professions." 

Eisenman(n) comes off more like Trump on "The Apprentice" than he does a professional.  Pathetic.

Jun 3, 13 1:23 pm
Maybe she should've had her parachute parent come in and save her?
Jun 3, 13 3:05 pm

are you guys so sure this criticism was directed toward the student?  my take is that he was directing his criticism toward the studio itself and wolf's teaching.  It sucks that this student was made an example, but if you've ever sat through a review where you start to realize all these students were led astray...

Jun 3, 13 3:08 pm
^ me and toast on same page
Jun 3, 13 3:13 pm

I'm not trying to defend eisenman - he probably could have handled this better... but you all realize that the work presented in a review is also the reflection of a prof's teaching, right?  or is everyone so self-absorbed that they somehow think that what you present in your final review (down to the studio premise and project brief) was divinely inspired and virgin-born completely from your own imagination?

Jun 3, 13 3:14 pm

Maybe she should've had her parachute parent come in and save her?

Interesting that the person who has most defended Eisenmann's behavior is also willing to attack a student he knows nothing about. Birds of a feather?

Jun 3, 13 3:22 pm
Yep. I mean the rampant paternalism here, and I dare say sexism, as though an adult woman can't handle this simple, typical, studio crit, from an individual she likely knew was on the jury panel is just laughable. Parachute away.
Jun 3, 13 3:28 pm

I think the execution of a project is 100% based on the student.  I scrapped a number of versions of a museum because I sought my professor out.  I don't think this is necessarily the same type of tactic others use.  I assume (key word) that my studio was set up very similar to the current educational fold, meaning we had set milestone crits to meet and discuss our designs.  I would learn a great deal from those, and apply them towards my design, however, not everyone did that.

A teacher cannot force design, they can only suggest.  The classes I was in always had a powerful 3-5 (I was in that group), a glimmering 3 just waiting to crack that top coo, a "yet to realize their potential" 4 who may lack on either presentation or design, another 2 who flat out just didn't get it, and the remaining didn't care. 

I've seen my fair share of tear downs, because some of the ideas were mind numbingly stupid, especially considering the issues may have already been addressed numerous times in previous crits.  It's important to be honest, it's uncalled for to be disrespectful.  Frustration is a lack of control

Jun 3, 13 3:31 pm

so - if you were sitting in a review and the project was "a museum for giant elephant turds in eastern siberia" - and it was obvious that some of the early exercises were based on fungal structures found on said turds - would you not wonder wtf the prof was doing?

Jun 3, 13 4:02 pm

I don't think there would ever be an assigned project that specific.  The project would be more "Design a Museum of your Choosing for Eastern Siberia" and the A-Hole student would choose to do a museum for giant elephant turds.  Then if he didn't give it up, the Professor would most likely prevent him from giving it.


HOWEVER, if a professor was to assign such a project... I better research feces for it's stability because this client (which is typically the role the professor takes on) must be shelling out a lot of money if I'm taking it on.  Would make for one hell of a unique portfolio discussion

Jun 3, 13 4:17 pm

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