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    the phenomenon of the midterm slump

    Quilian Riano
    Nov 7, '06 4:21 PM EST

    Is it just me or it is hard to keep the focus and energy in design projects immediately after midterm? It has happened to me in almost every single studio I have ever had. I don't know if it is tiredness, I don't know if it is boredom, but whoa I am having a bad case of the design slumps. Any remedies out there?

    What I am beginning to do to combat the slump:
    My jury said, and I tend to agree, that I need to engage the program head on. So now I am knee deep re-programming a building and site which are as much a lab and studio as the spaces within it. To charge that I am giving my peeps inside specific jobs. So far I have decided that the scientists are there to study new energies (solar, wind, bio-mass) and the artists are there to explore phenomena (think land art and James Turrell). I am adding a retail component to serve the local public that in itself would be places for big retailers (I'm thinking walmart), with the help of the scientists and artists, to experiment with ways to truly "green" their business. I hope that these ideas start informing what right now feels to me to be a slightly stale project. Am I doing a bad job concealing the treehugger within me? Either way I don't have too much time to get going as plans, sections, etc.. are calling. Please feel free to send me suggestions and to tell you the truth the crazier the better.

    When in doubt, collage.


    • geimanj

      What if the scientists are there to do "artistic" things, the artists are there to do scientific research for future projects, and the retailer is there to sell it all? Mix the designations up and see what happens...

      Nov 7, 06 5:00 pm  · 
      Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

      Be careful with the retail bit, perhaps? The programmatic demands of retail (especially big-boxers like walmart) could easily become a big drag on the most interesting programmatic bits (the scientists and artists). Small retail (maybe like experimental test-shops for big retailers) might work alright.

      Nov 7, 06 5:13 pm  · 

      yes. that's my motto as well: When in doubt, collage.

      a couple ways the program narrative could work -
      1. develop a cast of characters (your 'peeps inside'). Give them names, ages, specific interests and concerns. They become your client, in a sense, and guide your programmatic decisions. No new idea here...just like a d3 project that calls for the design of a space for Gershwin to compose...actually, Architect magazine (the premier issue that just came out has an article about Bruce Mau Design's design for a new used the character trick, creating 6 fictitious potential site visitors...allowing the site's overall organization to respond to the 6 various use patterns)...


      2. develop a matrix that illustrates your idea regarding the programmatic relationships between your user groups:
      artists, scientists, retailers, general public.
      This way your program becomes about the architecture of this inter-dependency between your users. The buildings reinforce your fairy-tale of Wal-mart playing nicely with a creative base of scientiest and artists. ;-)

      or maybe mix these 2...

      surely there are 1000 other ways to attack it...just some thoughts.

      keep huggin the trees...someone's gotta love 'em...

      Nov 7, 06 5:20 pm  · 

      i would argue for keeping the 'big box' and thereby addressing the prevailant concern of how to integrate these monsters (inevitable as they seem to be) within a community. responsive and integrated rather than autonomous and self-referential.

      Nov 7, 06 5:26 pm  · 

      maybe a collage in model form will be more useful...

      hard to tell from pics in previous posts but it looks like a graphic design oriented project more than an exploration of program and the clash of cultures you have thrown together...

      throwing a wal-mart into the mix is interesting enough, but the question that comes to mind for me is why wal-mart? programatically what does that add to the mix, really? i would be more interested in finding out there is a wal-mart like space/function there because the artists or scientists need it...the wal-mart feels like an easy play on low culture iconography...without knowing the reasons for adding it in i can't say, but at first blush it feels like a kind of psychological viagra, an artifical boost that won't solve the actual problem...


      Nov 7, 06 7:04 pm  · 

      thanks for your comments everyone,

      jump, i am not sure what you mean by a 'graphic design' project, not knowing exactly what you mean I disagree with that characterization. I have used graphics, drawings, sketches, and models to explore the issues you describe above (program etc...), but I do understand that in this medium (small pictures) it is hard to see exactly what is going on and focus on the presentation. Thanks for your comments though.

      Nov 7, 06 9:01 pm  · 

      I HATE the post midterm slump. Mine lasted two weeks. But I also get post desk crit slumps and post pin up slumps.

      Nov 7, 06 9:34 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      i know exactly what you mean q - my perusing of the archinect blogs is testament to the slump i'm in right now. similarly, i've taken measures to combat the slump the best i can - by writing. to each his own - i usually find however that a couple of weeks after the midterm i get a burst of creatve production. then again, it might be less inspiration than deadline pressures ...

      Nov 7, 06 10:29 pm  · 

      no offence intended +q...since i can't see plans or hear the explanation for the design, i am likely incorrect in my comments, but what i mean is that the design seems to be organised by the nice way it works on the exterior as a graphic object., and the interior spaces are much the same... nothing wrong with that. steven holl and coop himmelblau make great buildings doing just (but not only) that...

      however, since the critique was that you haven't taken on the implications of program, my suggestion is that maybe what you need is to get out of your comfort zone, leave the collage aside for awhile, because you are clearly good at them, and play with program and space in a model (or other form) instead. take on the project in a way that is NOT easy for you. that way you may find yourself going in a new direction that you cannot get to with your regular routine.

      collage is great, but for you maybe the need is not for new crazy ideas or new program, but a new method that will let you see your project in a new way. cuz the program is itself already enough. adding wal-mart complicates the issues, but for me the idea sounds like an avoidance, since the original problem is not solved yet. now if adding the wal-mart solves the other problems then i would say put it in right away...somehow doubt that it does, though...

      i am of course very likely full of shite. ;-)

      Nov 7, 06 11:04 pm  · 

      similar to arjun's can try a method of linking the programs with descriptive words based on your ideas about them...they don't have to be narratives but could be as simple as:

      Program A = connected, adjacent, twisted, centralized, etc...
      Program B = isolated, monstrous, looming, awkward, etc...
      and so on...

      any word you feel is relevant to the program...

      it's not necessary to have a completed chart in one session...this is like a seedling in a pot by the window at your desk that you water everyday and you tend to it slowly until it grows and blooms...

      i know this sounds like a mundane task of enumeration, overly organized, and not as enticing as making collages but the idea is for those words to begin forming subtle images in your head of the programs and how they relate to each other...

      hope it helps...

      Nov 7, 06 11:40 pm  · 

      it seems the artists would have a more important role at this place than just exploring phenomena-what a better place for artists to be than a place looking for ways to make alternative energy!
      It's a bastion of potential. Typically, art has been used to reveal truth-unless it became fad. In this case, the artists at this place sole purpose could be to create art specifiically as a truth about our energy crisis, but even more so, the reality of our society that has let things get to this point.
      Interestingly enough, we have been able to learn more about our society's condition through artwork-whether that be music, literature, painting, sculptire, architecture, etc... than any other avenue. Because of this, the program might not be so strange after all, but rather a new way of considering our reality.

      LTL suggests that funtion fucks with form. I guess, because function is a product of program, and program is ultimately the resultant of worldviews, cultural norms and practices. So, we are left with cliche program and generic form.

      So, this may be a regression, but the method of communication for the scientific discovery could be through art!

      Nov 8, 06 1:57 am  · 
      vado retro

      when in a slump, get laid...

      Nov 8, 06 12:04 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      ha! thats the best suggestion yet.

      Nov 8, 06 5:01 pm  · 


      1. What is the context of the project? environmentally, socially, economically, topographically, etc... Consider re-engaging this with the program.

      2. Try taking all your ideas, the context and the characters, and build a matrix table and generating at least five scenarios (one can be a wild card where some things don't quite make sense, fit right, or answer all the questions).

      3. Come up with a good metaphor and have fun with it. Many good writers capture their audiences by unifying their thesis and its complexities with a captivating metaphor. This has historical precident in architecture, from Gaudi's love of nature, gravity, and God, to Le Corbu's love of the modern industrial, to the eclectic ecotecture of sprirals and other patterns found in nature.

      4. Love thy senses. Think about materials, perception, and spirituality. How does the building feel?

      5. Take a nice break for a tiny bit to explore real, physical space and converse with people, then mix and match all of the good advice in the comments to this post. Then have conversations with your classmates about all the projects.

      Best of luck!

      Nov 14, 06 1:56 pm  · 

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