Student working from home vs in studio



I am a first year graduate student at the GSAPP, and also a newlywed. I am posting because I am a bit conflicted about where to do my studio and other class work. My wife and I got married in August and left for New York the next day, and for the past few months I've been working on my class work from my apartment in order to spend enough time with her. However mid reviews are coming up and I am beginning to wonder if I am doing myself a disservice by working from home rather than in studio, where all of my peers are working on the same projects that I am. Am I correct in my concern? Or is it okay to have that life outside of architecture?



Oct 17, 13 2:14 am

I think for me, it's great to work in the studio since you are in an environment where everyone is doing the same thing and there is a healthy culmination and exchange of ideas. With that being said, I have also felt at times, that its more productive when you work from home since its easier to get into your creative zone without anyone disturbing you. 

At the end of the day, I think its about balancing both. It's great to work in the studio because of the ambiance but when you need to get things done, working from home might be the better option. Just balance both and I think you should be fine. 

Oct 17, 13 4:04 am

You should spend as much time in studio as you can, but of course, not at the expense of your marriage. Discuss the issue with your professor, they should be understanding, unless of course they have no social life and no hope of one. You should also discuss with your spouse - if she has any sort of art or architecture background she will understand the need for long hours and studio time. Perhaps you explain to her that you will need so spend some late nights in studio (for deadlines) and some evenings (just to absorb studio culture and ideas), and you should also be home as much as you can otherwise. 

When I was a studio prof, I completely understood that some students were at different life phases than others. 

Oct 17, 13 9:24 am

bring your wife into studio. you can spend some time there.

here's what i think, just to maybe give you a different perspective. if you're in studio with your peers, maybe you can bounce ideas off each each other and learn something new and whatnot, but the bottom line is you're there for a degree more than an education.  your degree will depend on your grades, and your grades depend on the subjective whim of your professor.  in architecture and especially in studio, there aren't really any specific set of criteria to define your grade or your advancement.  a professor can claim to be objective or list objectives in a syllabus, but there is pretty much always going to be a bias.  if the professor sees you in studio and you can develop a relationship with that professor so they know your face and such, it is more likely their bias will work to your favor instead of working against you.

Oct 17, 13 9:44 am

"you're there for a degree more than an education."

I hope you know that you aren't speaking for everyone here. I think that someone who chooses a school like GSAPP over a standard, cheaper and shorter state school probably has more in mind than simply getting a degree. I almost have the exact opposite view of you. Grades will come as long as you do your stuff, what REALLY matter is what you do, how you do it and what you get out of it.

Having said that, there are definite pros and cons to working in and out of a studio. How far is studio from your home? Are you able to switch back and forth without much travel time/hassle? I would recommend a 2:1 ratio for studio:home time, with "busy work" being done mostly at home (model making, perhaps), while creative work (preliminary design, sketches, collaboration) will probably favor the studio. Bringing your wife to studio? I actually would not recommend that. Perhaps once or twice, but having her as a regular might, down the line, interfere with focus for you and your classmates working with you. Obviously, don't do something that will hamper your marriage. However, its comparable to a scientist working in and out of his/her lab (in certain ways). Stay in the studio as much as you can.

My 2 cents.

Oct 17, 13 10:42 am

just to put my previous comment in perspective, you are in college for somewhere around 5-8 years.  you will be doing whatever it is you're doing after college for something like 50 years (let's say you graduate at around 20 and work until 70. not an unreasonable assumption i think, but a pretty big assumption nonetheless). 

if you can get both an education and a degree, that's obviously best.  however, the degree is the stepping stone to place you on the right path to the next 50 years.  you can continue to learn during those 50 years.  you have all sorts of different avenues to learn new things outside of the university if you want, even while you're still in school.  if you're in a studio where, for whatever reason, you have to prioritize between the education and the degree, you're talking about something like a 6 month period of time within the 5-8 year college experience, which is a pittance in the scope of 50 years of actually working.  pick the degree.  losing a battle to with the war is by far the more prudent choice.

and why would you have to prioritize education and a degree?  shouldn't you always get everything you want in the real world?  to illustrate, if you have a professor who wants you to design a big circle, but you want to design a big pointy stick, design the circle.  maybe you will learn more about whatever it is that you think you need to learn by spending your 6 months designing a pointy stick, but at the end of that 6 months, you're fixation is only going to hurt you.  you can substitute anything you want for "circle" and "pointy stick" that would clarify the difference between you deciding what education you want (the 'pointy stick') and doing what will please your professor so you get better grades and further your goal of getting a degree ('circle').

i know that i don't speak for everyone here.  you can think you education is far more important than the degree if you want, but i hope i was able to adequately illustrate why that is an irrational and imprudent decision for you to make.

Oct 17, 13 11:07 am

I completely understand where you are coming from, and that's one legit way of looking at it. However, I view the degree as a material good, a simple trophy that you get for completing college and one of the many documentations you need to get a license (along with internship hours, AREs, etc). Thats ALL it is.

Some people do go to school simply to get their degrees - good for them. A lot of my peers are doing this. They went to graduate school right after undergrad, extending their studio time by another 2 or 3 years where they will probably plateau. But at least they got what they wanted, the certification. For me, and I truly hope I'm not the only one, I decided to wait on my masters, work for a couple years after undergrad, figure what working in the field is really like and to see what I am missing from my arsenal, and just this past year decided I was ready to go back to school because its been long enough where I will now absorb more from graduate school rather than if I had went straight from undergrad. That's what it is for me - absorbing as much as I can. I have absolutely no worries about "passing" or "failing" classes, because I believe when people do try to learn as much as possible in school, grades come naturally. When is the last time you heard of someone failing their Masters?

Education isn't by any means more "important" than the degree. I'm just saying they are really two separate things: the background that sets you up for the real world (kind of a  joke in today's architecture curriculum I know, but you get from it what you take), and the trophy that comes with it.

Anyway, I feel like I'm hijacking the thread now. Back to topic.

Oct 17, 13 11:27 am

Why try to fool her that you pretending to be around over the next 3 years let alone the rest of your career?

Never to late to get an annulment - or else, just give her the charge card and let her spend a few days every month down at bergdof - that may keep her happy for the next 36 months.

Oct 18, 13 2:23 am

I would say do both; spend some time in studio and some time at home. Maybe figure out a schedule where you do different types of activities in different places, such as being in studio in the early brainstorming phases of a project and going home when there is more competitive pressure and they become less social. (just a guess - I don't know what your studio culture is actually like.) Or doing studio work at school and a more introverted activity like history/theory at home. If you spend, say, 40 hours a week in studio (just making that up, the figure is probably low) and the rest at home, I would expect that you would be able to both get to know your classmates and still have time outside of that to spend with your wife. Anyone who comes to a knee-jerk reaction that you should just leave the relationship is disgusting. 

Also, from my experience, the whole "degree vs education" issue shouldn't be relevant; if the school is a good fit for you it will feel like an education, and if it is not a good fit it will just feel like you are there for a degree.

Oct 18, 13 3:30 am

I managed to make a pretty flexible schedule working between studio and home, but I was lucky because in my masters I had very few classes to attend. I went to studio from 8am-2pm ish, and every few days I made scheduled check-in design crits with 3 or 4 of my classmates. In the afternoon I took a big break for long lunch (sometimes with people at school, sometimes not) and a walk, errands, groc. shopping etc.. After supper I worked at home, usually until 11pm. I never did an all-nighter, never stayed in studio past 10pm, and never suffered in any way from my split between studio and home. Actually since I got more sleep and was able to spend time doing things other than architecture, I got a lot of inspiration from things that happened outside of school. I think that helped me a lot. It can be done! 

Oct 18, 13 10:07 am

There is no need to spend all (or any) time in studio as long as you are productive and creative without that setting. 

Oct 18, 13 6:15 pm

I second Will's comment, work wherever you are most productive.  As long as you are at school when you are required to be for desk crits, etc., I don't see an issue.  You are probably saving commuting time and money by not going in every day. 

Oct 19, 13 10:24 am

i disagree with will on my part, when on my own i tend to find myself facing many hurdles that another with a fresh perspective will think quite mundane. so i find that without constant coordination with atleast one peer a good design is impossible. of course others may be so exceptionally  inhuman that they wont never make mistakes while designing, losing sight of the basics in favor of minor details, but i do.

Oct 24, 13 5:36 am

I'm actually the opposite.  studio isn't so great for me in the beginning.  I get distracted, socialize, can't think clearly, and can't get into the creativity zone like someone said earlier to fully concentrate on the problem at hand.  taking in other people's opinion, especially too early, can be a double edged sword as well.  Independent thinking can suffer and group think may occur.  depending on the circumstances of course.

I'd prefer to maybe come into studio during the mid to late part of the the design process, after having time to think about the problem for myself and venture some design solutions.  Then I'd come into studio to discuss with fellow classmates about difficulties we've come across etc... and whatever else.

Studio at the end, during the production phase, is far more productive for me than at home.   the tools are there (shop, laser cutter, lab etc...)  and I get advice from other people on how to do certain things on the computer, or a machine, or different methods of construction that they have experience in but i do not. 

To each their own.  I'm more of an introvert so this way works for me better.  I could imagine that extroverted people would find it more beneficial to have someone to bounce ideas off of to clarify their thoughts.  But for me, I need alone time to do that.

Oct 27, 13 1:43 am


I got married while I was still in architecture school, so my experience may be of interest to you. Prior to getting hitched, my studio work patterns were more or less typical of most architecture students. I spent a lot of time in studio, often at all hours. I would frequently pull all-nighters at crunch time to get projects done. I was falling into exactly the sort of unhealthy work habits that many people adopt in the academic studio environment.

After I married and then returned to school the next fall, I continued in those same work habits for about a month. It was a disaster and totally unsustainable. I was miserable. My wife was angry. And my work was suffering. Part of being married means being a grown-up. That doesn't just apply to your personal relationship with your wife. It also applies to your relationship to your work.

So I started treating my work like a grown-up professional. Studio was my job. I changed my work habits to show up at my desk at 9AM and head home at 6PM. I'd attend classes as my schedule required, but otherwise would be at my studio desk working. Every day. Sometimes I'd have to work a little late in the evening, but I kept that as minimal as possible. Every once in a while I'd work a weekend day or two. Just like a real job.

And I never put in another all-nighter. And I finished every project early for the rest of my academic career. And I graduated at the top of my class with a happy, pregnant wife and a job waiting for me even though it was the middle of recession.

So, my sincere advice to you, from someone who has been there and done that, is Be The Grown-up. Do that, and you'll be fine.

Oct 27, 13 1:55 pm

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