architecture school... on the tv!

this makes me sad
Aug 23, 08 12:24 am

why does it make you sad?

Aug 23, 08 3:34 am


Aug 23, 08 6:41 am

"You back in the black neighborhood experimenting on shit!...You want to experiment, experiment on St. Charles street."

Aug 23, 08 11:18 am

yeah, but the real philosopher was the other guy.

Aug 23, 08 12:52 pm

no. that was the guy making nice for the camera...he obviously feels as the other gentleman, but was unwilling to let fly on film.

i like the,"well, you asked for my opinion"...and the kid is letting it go in one ear and right out the other.

Aug 23, 08 1:11 pm

no, in fact later in the episode he says, paraphrasing; if you can't afford it then you shouldn't be able to buy it. the man is a pragmatist, he may not "get it" but he understands it's importance to the community.

Aug 23, 08 1:21 pm

well go figure..we disagree.

Aug 23, 08 1:27 pm

well, looky're wrong and i am correct!

Aug 23, 08 2:35 pm

wow. someone's mommy didn't love him enough.

Aug 23, 08 3:27 pm

no, actually it was daddy, he burned me with boiling water and a lot of alcoholic rage, mommy loved me plenty, but thanks for asking.

Aug 23, 08 4:16 pm

Well, regardless of which one of you gets the last word...

...this show was actually pretty revealing. Nevermind how snotty those students seem to sound ...what we also see here is a real example of socio-economic and racial idiosycracies that were present before and after....that part at least is fascinating to me.

Notice there were no Black Arch Students?!

Aug 23, 08 7:57 pm

..."before and after" the hurricane that is...

Aug 23, 08 7:58 pm
liberty bell

Oh my god, that was so great! I was excited about the show when it was posted in the news, and since I don't have Sundance I figured I'd have to wait to see it - thank you so much for posting it, gbbell3!

It's really well-made, I love the graphics style (like the overlapping photos of the first house construction process). And it's totally not "reality" TV, it's a documentary, as was said in the interview with the producers that was in the news section.

I'm on the edge of my seat already to see how it all goes - and it makes me simultaneously miss school/studio and feel sooo glad I'm not suffering through that again, with the added stress of competing with my classmates AND the unfathomable stress of building something that might not be welcome in the neighborhood or even an appropriate act at all.

I am so excited for this show.

Aug 23, 08 9:22 pm
liberty bell

Well I felt bad for watching it free so I just went to itunes and bought a "Season Pass" to get all the episodes automatically - will be the best ten bucks I've spent in a while, i have no doubt.

Aug 23, 08 9:33 pm

ff33 said it all

the show just inspired even more than what i already am.
right now i feel like making little models of the designs
ive upchucked thus far. The show seems cool, in a way it kinda
gives us college students who havent yet gotten to the architecture
part of our college career a preview or trailer of whats to come,
im excited, i cant wait to get into to architecture
i dont think the downsides of architecture will discourage
me to much, but i think im gonna go ahead a watch some more
to get a better picture.

liberty - ten bucks doesnt sound bad, i might do the same

Aug 23, 08 11:58 pm

i'm interested in seeing the results of this tv show. you have to admit that the whole "concept" segment was hilarious. typical architecture jargon with them just talking out of their ass. amarit seems like the winner gauging the amount of screen time he gets.

Aug 24, 08 12:35 am

I actually thought this show was thoughtfully produced -- they did a better job than many n.o. shows in terms of showing the actual community and the way it works. I am very interested in seeing more episodes and seeing if the students can rise to the very real challenge. (Plus, the sneak preview of the next episode -- featuring a real crit! -- got me all psyched that they're actually showing it like it is!)

on the other hand, almost ALL of those "concepts" (if not all) were not actual concepts at ALL. I'm sorry, but "there's going to be a central service core" or "I want everything to be condensed on the 2nd floor and open on the 1st" is NOT a concept -- that's the FORMAL RESOLUTION of a concept! What's the driving idea behind all that?! You can't just say "the service core is my concept" -- every building needs a service core. WHY make your service core the way it is? What is so special about your arrangement of spaces and forms? Why would that particular arrangement be any better than any other? What is your argument for the over-riding suitability of your particular choice of forms? This bothered me a great deal. I understand that it's a housing construction studio and thus they can't really afford to spend a ton of time on concept development, and that's ok -- but then in that case don't make a big deal over your supposed conceptual development.

ok other than that small point I really liked this show. good for you, sundance! although it IS weird that there are zero black kids in this studio. is that a tulane thing?

Aug 24, 08 2:08 am

" although it IS weird that there are zero black kids in this studio. is that a tulane thing? "

I think it's a private university in the US thing, possibly even an architecture school thing.
I just did a quick search for the demographics at a bunch of schools and here is the % of african american students in each freshman class

Tulane - 12%
Cornell - 8%
SciArch - 2%
IIT - 6%
UCBerkeley - 4%
U Cinn. - 13%
NJIT - 13%
Harvard - 8%
LSU - 9%

Aug 24, 08 3:13 am

mantaray (and ff33), are/were you an architecture student? the rate of african american students in architecture school at any high level is VERY low... this is fairly ubiquitous at all schools with few exceptions.

Aug 24, 08 3:18 am

I do agree with you that some of the students didn't look very bright when they were questioned in their initial design review. A lot of the answers bothered me as well, but I would imagine that the pressure of a review with Byron, which can be intimidating to some, on top of the cameras in the room probably didn't help so much.

I would have liked it if they went into detail on how the decision to use SIP panels as a construction meathod influenced their design, or how they could have used the SIPs in an unorthodox way.

Other thank those minor things, I think it is an awesome program. It gives TU some much needed recognition for the UrbanBUILD program and hopefully it will help to continue the work that these students are doing. I am certainly jealous that UB wasn't around when I was there.

Aug 24, 08 3:26 am

vindingo- you should also do a survey of what % remain in the senior class...

Aug 24, 08 4:49 am

i think, because i can't find what year they are, that they might be 3rd year?

yes, this profession does not do enough to reach out to black youth and get them coming to architecture programs...

Aug 24, 08 8:17 am
the rate of african american students in architecture school at any high level is VERY low... this is fairly ubiquitous at all schools with few exceptions.

nahh, I know, but you'd expect at least ONE, especially in an area with such a high african-american population. We as a profession REALLY REALLY need to work on this, it is pathetic. The show is just a reminder to me...

Aug 24, 08 11:26 am
I would have liked it if they went into detail on how the decision to use SIP panels as a construction meathod influenced their design, or how they could have used the SIPs in an unorthodox way.

I agree, this would have been interesting. Hopefully they'll address it in future shows.

Also, I agree on the pressure of an on-camera crit -- I certainly could NOT have handled that in addition to the rest of the general trauma of architecture school! Plus, I was thinking that we don't know what was left on the editing room floor, of course... It's possible that the cameramen / editor / director don't truly understand design concepts in architecture and selected weird little bits of verbiage that didn't really get across the true picture of the design process. All in all I think this show is an excellent idea and I hope lots of people watch it!

Aug 24, 08 11:29 am

The saddest / scariest of those stats is LSU @ 9%.

Aug 24, 08 11:30 am
liberty bell

mantaray, I was thinking the same thing re: concept and totally agree. But I think I let it pass by without worrying too much about it because it seems "concept" is a slippery issue.

I mean, 25 years ago when I was architecture school we argued over whether "circulation" is a concept - in my mind it isn't. But if circulation gives the form of your building, and the building functions well and looks great, does it matter? Maybe "circualtion" is a driver of form, but it's not a concept. I guess I think most buildings don't have a concept at all, but can still be very pleasant buildings.

I did notice Amarit use the word "parti", which pleased me very much, because I think every building should have a clear parti, and it doesn't seem to be a word that is used much in academia any longer.

Aug 24, 08 1:22 pm

f33 well depends on how you use the term "black" one of the students is actually afro-caribbean despite obvious appearances.

I like this show, and am glad someone decided to publish the episode even if just to wet our appetite. There is more via the website

Aug 24, 08 9:40 pm

hate to spoil the surprise of the next episode but the archinect front page just did it for me. the design they chose was the Dominican Republic girl with the S-shape envelope concept. Check the front page to see the spoiler.

Aug 24, 08 10:10 pm

i don't think there is any surprise, it's not Project Runway, the show is more of a documentary than a competition. the process, as always, is what the show is about. i don't care who got their design built, i want to see the how.

Aug 25, 08 5:21 am

S-shape is not a concept.

Aug 25, 08 9:01 am

LB, I actually agree with everything you just said, especially including :

I guess I think most buildings don't have a concept at all, but can still be very pleasant buildings.

We've had the same debate on "circulation" over in my corner. It's an interesting discussion to me... I agree that buildings can easily be taken just as they are and enjoyed -- I guess I just feel like school is the place you learn things like that, and if they're going to talk "concept" at all I'd like to see them have a true discussion about it.

A clean and clear parti is one of the single most important things everyone should learn in arch school. Actually most of those students looked like they were keeping it nice and simple in this respect.

Such an interesting program!

Aug 25, 08 9:17 am

"circulation" in and of itself is not a concept - it's too general. focusing on circulation could be one of the ways you test your concept...

IMO, concept = "abstract idea that you can test."

But, I agree that buildings don't have to have a concept to be successful... it's like having to develop a central thesis every time you do a kitchen remodel. you'd spend more time writing about how the kitchen explores modes of domesticity in contemporary society through the user's interaction with cabinet hardware, than actually designing a nice kitchen.

Aug 25, 08 10:12 am

is there always a need for a concept? at the scale and given the variety of functions to be accommodated in a house, can having a parti not be sufficient? i mean, i know villa nm had a concept, but...

Aug 25, 08 10:14 am

cross-post w/toaster. yep.

Aug 25, 08 10:15 am

I think alot of the best built buildings come from ass-simple concepts, usually taken from nature, like baths at Vals. Its very hard to sit there in studio, look your crit in the eye, and say "My concept is caves, and movement through caves, and how the play of water, air, light and the compression and expansion of space interact with each other." Without being laughed at.

As vado said a while ago, if want a academically-solid concept, go watch French New-Wave cinema and read Derrida.

Aug 25, 08 10:20 am

I would argue that concept is something difficult to illustrate/ produce without treading into the parti arena...and the more successful parti diagrams are concepts since they really should be reduced to their purely elemental. I find during crits that's all I record from the students work...the parti

Aug 25, 08 12:27 pm

I agree with architechno,

I always think of Tchumi's Categorical dissection in these instances:


As picky as people are about having 'parti' or whether or not a roof shape is technically categorized as a "concept", there is a simple relationship with the interior space and the activity and forces of the outer community that is real. The domestic strategy of the space negotiates with the urban environment, and regardless of whether the diagrammatic ideas are apparent in the form of an architects parti, or some other obvious formal convention.

Aug 25, 08 12:53 pm
Aug 25, 08 1:46 pm
liberty bell

Yeah, ether - I wondered about that too. ;-)

I do agree w/ techno that a clear, straightforward yet compelling parti can drift into concept territory. But going back to what mantaray said about school: in school, one has the opportunity to actually develop a design around a concept, one that may be wacky or ethereal or whatever. So if they are having a "concept review" they should be talking about less-concrete aspects of the building than circulation, service cores, etc.

Definitely a building does not need to be driven by some big-idea concept to be a successful building. In my experience, since I like thinking about materials conceptually, the concept basically reveals itself through the working out of the design, as one starts making decisions that are informed by previous decisions and in the end reinforce one another towards a bigger idea.

And in the realm of a house, as toasteroven said, the scope is small enough that an abstract concept may not be the best approach (though some "big concept" houses exit, to be sure - I'm thinking of Holl's Turbulence House as one that I love). Especially given this project: a low cost, easily built and maintained, livable, flood-resistant house in NO. It practically screams for a simple, clear parti - and from what I can see of the selected design, it got one.

Aug 25, 08 2:44 pm
mean prank riverbank

...on the African-American student thing... One thing to keep in mind is that this is just one studio of only nine students, probably randomly selected or via applications - not the whole class of 50-75. Though not being a student now, but one in the past, I wouldn't say that TSA has many African-Americans (there were only two in my class), but it is diverse on the whole.

Aug 25, 08 3:04 pm

Hey, I'm just stating my opinion. I've sat there as a student and over-conceptualized projects before, when typically the simplest option will lead to the best project and give you the least headache overall.

That said, "ribbons" or "bands" as a parti are getting hopelessly out-of-date, and I am guilty of using them in the past.

Aug 25, 08 4:47 pm

Right on with the concept idea. You don't necessarily need to have a "Big Idea"... sometimes concepts develop overtime. I think as an academic, ideas are introduced, and professors should develop those with students to create some kind of story or poetry, not simply telling them "this is not a big idea" and starting all over.

There's a clip on hulu of the second episode where the Asian kid gets critqued.. Its quite amusing.

Sep 2, 08 2:46 pm

i think "big ideas" tend to be overrated
a building doesnt need to have some great philosophical idea behind it to be a good building

many times in arch studios, you hear people prattle on and on about their "idea"
every building doesnt need to be groundbreaking and something that has never been done before

that being said
i think the show is a good idea, but i tried to watch some and really didnt like it at all

the part i saw was after the winner was chosen i guess, and there were shots of everyone discussing it and why they themselves didnt win. a lot of the students sounded really bitter and complainy about the whole thing, and it sounded like a lot of them felt cheated. I know the show is more a documentary and is not trying to make you like anyone, i think it just shows the ego-tistical side of architects, and especially architecture students

i think i will give it another chance later on, but it made me glad i am not in the studio life, having to deal with over-inflated egos like that

Sep 2, 08 4:30 pm

on the diversity of the student's backgrounds...

i am not sure if its really a "problem" there were no african american students
correct me if i am wrong, because i dont remember at all since i only saw maybe 10-15 minutes, but it wasnt a class of just 9 white kids, right?
there seemed to be some diversity

i dont know if they necessarily needed to make sure they picked 1 student from every background to be on the show

did the first episode tell how the students were picked?

if it was by people applying, who is to say there were a ton of african american students interested in being on the show?
being that it seems to be more documentary, i would hope they chose the students either randomly, or based on their work (preferably anonymously)

its not "the real world"

again though, i didnt watch much, so i could be wrong

Sep 2, 08 4:35 pm

i dont remember sort of seems like the show is trying to turn the people into "characters" a little bit, but it seems like the students are more interested in the project htan becoming a least from the first episode...

Sep 2, 08 4:56 pm

i take that back after rewatching the episode...definitely some kids with big egos.

Sep 2, 08 5:13 pm

not surprising really

if you are an architecture student, and you want to be on this show, you probably have a very healthy ego, and i wasnt surprised to see those who lost bitch about how they should have won

Sep 2, 08 5:15 pm

yea...just watched the second one...honestly, i think its not that bad that they picked that girl's design, even though i didn't like it the best - she seems a lot less ego driven than the others, and will probably take suggestions for her classmates more seriously. i could not imagine working for the kid who made the "core" house.

does anyone know what year these kids are?

Sep 2, 08 5:30 pm

not old enough..

Sep 2, 08 10:52 pm
liberty bell

I just watched episode two. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm an old woman, but I didn't think any of these kids have overly big egos, they sound like every single architecture student I went to school with! And most of the designs looked really pretty dang good, like even if they didn't "win" they got a great experience designing a simple program while having to consider construction in a completely realistic way, as well as a good portfolio project!

When Reed Kroloff was ripping on Amarit I was literally squirming in my chair. I think it's a smooshy grey line between "Why should your architectural ego outweigh the concerns of your client?" and "When should your critic's ego outweigh the opportunity for a student to learn instead of being publicly shamed in a review?" - he crossed way over that line. At least as presented in the TV show he did - I'm sure the people in the room have a truer sense of what really happened.

When it came down to picking the winner: man, how freaking painful - it felt like back in grade school when the smallest kid was the last one picked for dodgeball. What a horrid way to go about selecting a winner. I figured the guest critics would have weighted in on it: even if not allowed to actually vote, it seems letting the guests give their opinions would ultimately be less divisive amongst a group of 15 (?) who now have to build together as a team.

Am still totally impressed by the film graphics, and overall production/project. And can't wait to see the next one.

Sep 7, 08 11:28 pm

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