Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

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    Quilian Riano
    Jul 15, '07 4:04 PM EST

    As many in archinect know, Career Discovery (disco) is the GSD's introductory summer program. I had a chance to sit in two disco juries recently and wanted to share some thoughts for those that may be interested. Disco is usually taught by people that either are about to graduate or have just recently graduated from the different programs (MArch, MLA, MUD). The first time I juried for Dara Huang's class, a good friend whom just graduated with an MArch. I have known her since undergrad and she is familiar to many as the star of the infamous "pimp my model" video. Her class is comprised of an interesting mix of people from well established and successful professionals in their current careers to energetic recent high school grads. I did their first review after only two weeks in which they were asked to design a small intervention in Corb's Carpenter Center. I have to say that I was mostly truly impressed with the work specially when one considers the short amount of time that they had to produce it. Out of respect for people's privacy I will not go into any specific examples but to say that many were very developed and full of an energy that those of us that are by now veterans of the studio culture sometimes miss. Work that is unafraid of making mistakes and making moves that may or may not land within the typical academic discourse. The jury in this first review was comprised of myself and Ben Uyeda, a recent Cornell grad that works in his own firm specializing in green design and consultancy.

    The second review had a much larger jury, comprised of three GSD recent grads and students (including myself) and a well known editor and writer. This review was for their second project and in the fourth week of the disco program. The program was a house in Cambridge and the process is very reminiscent of the "cube" projects many of us have had in introductory studios. The instructor, Joshua Dannenberg a friend who is going into his thesis year, took his class trough a series of spatial and compositional exercises and as bonus gave his class the challenge of incorporating ideas of the 'functional ornament' into the design (Joshua helped illustrate the book). This led us, the jury, to have some very interesting conversations about skins, architectural language, what can be part of an architectural language (can you include smell as an architectural element?), etc... Overall these were a very exciting set of projects and gave us lots to talk about. I do not want to get into many details, but a student made a very interesting and provocative project that led us to bring in issues of sarcasm in architecture and the sublime.

    Check out the exercises Joshua gave his class (large PDF's): WK_03.pdf | WK_04.pdf

    So there you have it, a limited view of disco from the sidelines.

    disco students from a Harvard Gazette article. I will try to update this entry with some images from the reviews...


    • Quil, you should think about writing reviews of review (review|review) as a possible career option. I am always intrigued by the jury's perception of work and programs, having spent time doing it myself at various studios around the world and you seemed to be equally interested in what you experienced.

      The question I ask of you, although I have a feeling interpreted from the tone of your writing, is what effect do you think that experience will have on the way you work/practice??

      Jul 15, 07 10:02 pm  · 

      archi, I have done some crits before, first at UF where I TA'ed 4 design studios, and not too long ago a buddy invited me to look at the work of MIT undergrads. I have always enjoyed doing it for some of the reasons you describe above. I specially enjoy it when we disagree in the panel and the students see that all these critiques are less like final judgments and more like the conversations they should be having amongst themselves anyway.

      I think that something I have always felt while doing it is that you learn a lot more in this side of the critique. It is sometimes (but of course not always) hard as a student to be awake enough during critiques to learn as much as you should. As a critic it becomes crystal clear, you notice the trends, you begin to position the projects within the many current architectural discourses. I enjoy the perspective that comes out of having to think and say something to every student and their project.

      As far as somethings I learn from this group specifically, I would say that it has to do with their daring nature. For some reason I see these students proposing things that at times feel more daring than what you see in regular architecture school. I have a hypothesis that it has to do with their varied backgrounds and stages of life. I re-discovered from the recent high school grad that architecture and Corb are and should be 'dope' and 'fresh'. From the lawyer I learned how to make architectural drawings look almost like flowcharts (in a good way). From the goth how to make fearless arguments and make architecture that can at first seem tongue in cheek but is (or can be) actually a strong social and political critique. And I learned (or re-learned) directly and indirectly many other lessons from the projects I saw and the comments I heard from other jurors.

      Jul 15, 07 10:42 pm  · 
      vado retro

      its all so wicked pissa and badass!

      Jul 18, 07 10:11 pm  · 
      vado retro

      Way to stereotype Germans there Josh. We are all so hard and unfeeling and rigid. I guess you never heard of Beethoven or German Expressionism or German Romanticism. WTF?

      Jul 18, 07 10:31 pm  · 

      vado I've never heard the word 'wicked pissa' before, already love it.

      Jul 18, 07 11:35 pm  · 

      vado, good point you make about germans. but you are neglecting 2 very important realities: a) sprockets, and b) first-time architecture students who struggle with the concept of designing for clients. had i tried explaining the "softness" of beethoven or expressionism, it would be to no avail.

      but thanks for letting us know where you stand on german stereotypes. and, i guess, on boston speech vernacular.

      Jul 19, 07 12:32 am  · 
      Sprockets!, fun stuff...
      Jul 19, 07 7:28 am  · 
      free cholesterol
      Jul 19, 07 7:54 am  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      u juried some of the MIT undergrads Q? You should have dropped the Level One grad studio and said hello -- would have been great to have spoken.

      Jul 19, 07 12:45 pm  · 


      Jul 19, 07 5:09 pm  · 

      Mindarch, Germans bore you?

      Jul 19, 07 5:18 pm  · 

      Arjun, it was one of those quick, there-and-back type of things in the middle of the semester. I think I am taking some classes this fall in MIT, if not I would love to meet you for a beer sometime. The R&D in the Stata Center seems like a fun place..

      Jul 19, 07 5:21 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      cool -- what classes were you thinking about? speaking of i need to check the gsd's offerings for the fall ...

      Jul 19, 07 6:41 pm  · 

      Not completely, actually my girlfriend is German.....

      Jul 20, 07 5:05 pm  · 

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