Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    Career Discovery

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Jun 22, '10 8:10 PM EST

    Hi Archinect!

    I'm making my guilty face again because it's been a while since I've written, but...

    The semester ended well enough for me, and since then it's been fun and busy and all over the place. I went on vacation with some friends to Washington DC and NYC, spent time with family in Boston and Montreal, where I attended my PhD graduation from McGill. (It was wonderful to be back in Montreal, and it reminded me how much I made that city, and McGill in particular, my home.) And I spent more quality time with friends, dealt with medical appointments, cleaned my apartment, and tied up a few loose ends in my personal life. So basically, I spent a couple of weeks unwinding and dealing with all those Life Issues that get put on hold during a busy semester.

    Which is good, because Career Discovery started last week and I'm a "Representation" instructor, so I'm back in Gund Hall, working almost as hard as during the school year!

    Teaching at Career Discovery is an opportunity that I'm really excited about, and I'm learning LOTS about teaching by presenting lectures, leading workshops, and giving desk crits to some 60 students (five sections of ~12 students each) on issues related to drawing, building models, and generally using representational tools within a design process.

    But it does raise the same question that was on my mind this school year: although the Career Discovery students don't work quite as long hours as we do during a GSD semester (given that the building closes at midnight during the week and 10pm on the weekends), it's obvious that we're already wearing them down with the workload. On the one hand, design is difficult and it takes time to develop the necessary skills and work through iterations within a process. On the other, is it really necessary to work people so hard that we snuff out the fresh spark of excitement that brought them here in the first place? I hope not.

    The students are working hard, learning huge amounts every day, and producing interesting work. I hope I can find ways to help make their experience productive AND enjoyable over the next five weeks.

    I'll write another update soon, but right now I'd better get going--desk crits await!

    Thanks for reading!


    P.S. Oh, and I'm also really excited that I've received a graduation fellowship from McGill that will be funding some research travel in China this August! I'm planning to go to Beijing, Shanghai, and some places in the vicinity.

    P.P.S. If you're interested in design and education in underprivileged environments, check out this interdisciplinary design competition hosted by UNICEF, called INDEX: DESIGN CHALLENGE 2010 / DESIGNING FOR EDUCATION. Registration is due July 29.


    • Lucas Delort

      Wow, what are the chances I come across this? I'm actually a student at Career Discovery right now, in the Urban Planning program! I must say, wearing the students down is a must - we are trying to find a career that suits us, and intensity is a must in the architecture field. We must not be lured in by a soft romanticization of the profession; instead, we must see the difficult realities of design, and if we find true love in the sleepless nights, if our spark of fresh excitement is ignited by the grueling tasks, then Career Discovery has been successful.

      Jun 28, 10 8:43 pm  · 

      Hi Lian
      My name is Nazar. I made the CDisco (love that shortcut- it has something to do with dancing))) last summer. For me as a practicing architect it was an amazing experience and a lot of fun! I do agree that the process was a bit overloaded- guys were complaining on this subject everyday. I also stayed in the dorms and so I was watching people working hard even after 12 and till the morning, specially before the pin-ups.:) And I guess it's fine to strip the truth about how hard design education and moreover professions are before people step in to this field. I only regret that we didn't have much time to discover Loeb Library along with Cambridge and Boston.

      There were few practicing professionals on the Program as well as some design students from other schools. I feel like these people were bearing the load pretty efficiently. I think CDisco should have collected them into one studio and keep the load to pop up the challenge. Meanwhile unloading the rest of participants. Or may be it would be good to think about another summer program for grown-ups?)

      Appreciate your blog.
      Best wishes,

      Nov 30, 10 1:55 am  · 

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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