Finals during architecture school are a funny time. Generally speaking finals week is a time to of rest and relaxation, and the first time all year where we get to hang out in the quad and laugh at all the other students who are sleep deprived zombies shuffling around with an open book in each hand cramming for a final they are probably already late to because they can’t recall what day it is. Architecture students can appreciate what they are going through but after a full semester of doing this it seems only fair that we get to see our peers, and often roommates, suffer like we have, even if it is only for one week.
We are not exempt from finals but our big dead line, studio presentations, usually falls in the week before finals. This time of forced creativity and production is highlighted but a string of all-nighters, last minute models made from anything found in studio because the art store is closed, computer failure with the last back up occurring two weeks ago, and printer bottle necks that would put any large cities rush hour to shame. Then the day of presentation everyone pulls a superman wardrobe change and arrives to final review dressed to the nines, sipping on coffee, putting on a good cheery face for presentations but their body language more closely resembles that of lambs being led to slaughter. With the hope that much like death promises reprieve from this life, the final critique will bring the suffering of this last semester to an end. With some luck we will look back on this time and be able to pull meaningful lesson and antidotal stories to share with others who, muck like we did, will not take head to the warnings.
This is not to say that we do not have exams finals week, but there is the euphoric feeling after presenting a final design defense that registers deep in the brain releasing the pressure of stress leaving behind something that I can only describe as a large mental sigh. In the wake of this feeling it is really hard to refocus and take final exams seriously. What is a one hour long test over a couple chapters in a book that has been spark noted to the umpteenth degree compared to a semester long design problem that has no end and is not guaranteed to even have a correct answer?
I have been fighting this feeling this last week. Our graduate program won’t conclude until the end of July, but I did a sort of final presentation to my committee. It was a really nice review. I got a lot of feedback and direction, but per usual there is a long way to go. I need to focus and stay buckled down to my thesis so in two months when I present for the final time, which could quite possibly be my last academic presentation, I will not be like those students whose body language resembles that of an animal headed to slaughter.