Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Studio Culture(shock)

By Joel Wallace

After recently reading an article on Studio Culture (and an abnormally loud day in studio) I began thinking of the shock factor of returning to school a few years ago and the challenges of that adjustment. Though I had several years of experience within an architectural office prior to returning to school, I wasn’t necessarily prepared for what a university architecture program considered a working environment. Now at the graduate level, it’s safe to say that I have adjusted, but it honestly took a few semesters to do so. It’s obvious my age has played a factor in the adjustment (28 upon my return), but I believe the biggest adjustment was the overall atmosphere itself. Ringing phones and daily progress meetings, turned to blaring speakers and group projects with “fun” craved, salivating 19 year olds; targeting project budget’s and completion deadlines morphed in to the development of par-ti diagrams and concept statements, just a slight change in lifestyle. My professional colleagues always mentioned the days of Studio, whether it was good or bad, with a sense of pride and accomplishment. After a almost four years, and many loud days of shaken concentration, I have grown to understand that though a Studio environment may or may not be for everyone, it is an a experience in which one will learn from and remember.

Below is an excerpt from an article of the AIAS Studio Culture Task Force on the myths and reputations that some may perceive an Architectural Studio to be. Very interesting to relate how our own beliefs and interpretations may stack up to those of other programs around the country.

Studio culture can also be characterized by the myths it perpetuates. These myths influence the mentality of students and promote certain behaviors and patterns. The following prevail within many design studios, if not within every school:

 Architectural education should require personal and physical sacrifice.
 The creation of architecture should be a solo, artistic struggle.
 The best students are those who spend the most hours in studio.
 Design studio courses are more important than other architecture or liberal arts courses.
 Success in architecture school is only attained by investing all of your energy in studio.
 It is impossible to be a successful architect unless you excel in the design studio.
 Students should not have a life outside of architecture school.
 The best design ideas only come in the middle of the night.
 Creative energy only comes from the pressure of deadlines.
 Students must devote themselves to studio in order to belong to the architecture community.
 Collaboration with other students means giving up the best ideas.
 It is more important to finish a few extra drawings than sleep or mentally prepare for the design review.
 It is possible to learn about complex social and cultural issues while spending the majority of time sitting at a studio desk.
 Students do not have the power to make changes within architecture programs or the design studio.


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