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notes 1. Robert Beckley, “From the Dean,” Dimensions: Journal of the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning, 1991, 13. 2. Stephen Kliment, “Academe or Boot Camp,” Architectural Record, July 1991, 90. 3. David Kiraly, interview with author, August 16, 1991. 4. Peter Osler, interview with author, August 20, 1991. 5. Alvin Boyarski, Lecture, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, October 25, 1990. 6. Supra note 3. 7. Robert Harbison, “Visions of Youth: Are Young Designers Out of Sync with the Times?” New Statesman & Society, July 21, 1989, 45. 8. Betsy Williams, interview with author, August 20, 1991. 9. Kathryn Anthony, “Juries on Trial,” Architectural Record, July 1991, 78. 10. Ibid., 77. 11. Ibid., 77. 12. See supra note 1. 13. Supra note 4.

omitting the formal studio altogether. In a recent lecture to American students, Alvin Boyarski, director of the Architectural Association in London, boldly stated his belief that “to design in large, public rooms like you do here with such a great lack of inward focus is simply wrong.” 5 He explained how English students design in the privacy of their own rooms, and only when fully prepared do they bring their work to the AA for critique. Osler feels this format favors European students in the respect that “they must learn to discipline themselves since they are pressured not by professors but by themselves to produce work.” 6 As for the quality of the often theory-based work done at the AA, Robert Harbison states, “for all the talk which goes round about how unrealistic AA training is, it is the only school which never forgets that architecture is sensuous.” 7 Many would argue about the exact role of the studio. Should it closely simulate the professional world? Should technology be integrated into design projects? If design can even be taught, is it best taught in the studio format? Regardless, few would doubt the studio experience teaches important lessons that are essential to those in professional practice. Betsy Williams, also a design professor at the University of Michigan, believes that, although “studio is not meant to simulate the ‘real world’, it can be used to teach such skills as dealing with deadlines, pacing your work, communicating your ideas, and working within groups.” 8 It is unfortunate that students do not realize that these organizational skills along with such criteria as attendance, attitude, originality, improvement, product, and most importantly, process, are the basis for their evaluation. Instead of emphasizing the design process students think the most important step of the project is the all-nighter before the review, when they prepare the final model and drawings. Most believe that a time comes when the ‘piper must be paid’ and with racked nerves, sweaty palms, a million-dollar model and no sleep, students approach the bench and address the all-knowing Grim Reaper panel.

A jury can be a constructive indicator as to how successful a project is, but by no means can it be the sole indicator of how well the student approached a problem and executed a design. Anthony does her fair share to identify the shortcomings of the jury system after interviewing over 600 architectural students, faculty, and practitioners. She points out that not only are students dissatisfied with juries as a whole, but that they learn very little from them, and when they do, it is often too late to act upon the suggestions. She also states “educators know surprisingly little about the effectiveness of juries as teaching and learning techniques, and are often unclear and ambiguous about their purpose…students and faculty agree that too many faculty criticize harshly, often competing with each other at the student’s expense.” 10 It is hard to believe that any good can come from such an experience. Lawrence Booth fears that, “If we taught medicine this way, we’d all be dying.” 11 But professors assure us there is a reason for everything: “We really get knocked around for the rest of our livess by clients,” notes Jacqueline Robertson. “It is useful as a kind of basic training to get used to that and to think on your feet and not get all weepy when someone criticizes you personally rather than your work.” 12 Osler agrees: “Architects must justify themselves to clients all the time. . .The jury is a good practice for students to think quickly.” 13 But he also points out that the jury often becomes a showplace for jurors’ egos and intelligence, and that strong, one-sided criticism without dialogue does little for the student.

With all of its faults and tribulations, the jury-studio system has stood the test of time and has produced quite a few great architects. But we should not be satisfied with this system for, just as in design, satisfaction breeds stagnation. If students see problems with the way in “The late nights and weekends in studios often encouraged which we are being taught, it is in our best interest to in schools reinforce the idea that architecture’s awards bring these concerns to those who can do something are not commensurate with the work expended. They about them. If we do not, then we will continue to become also indicate that it is perfectly acceptable to disregard products of an imperfect educational system. We have a time management skills and other organizational skills responsibility to educate those who will one day further (such as pacing)…The studio becomes more of an the profession. This does not mean we must all become endurance test for the survival of the fittest, rather than a instructors, but that we should make some positive contribution to architectural education. C true learning experience.” 9 In this way, the studio and the culminating all-nighter become counterproductive as Kathryn Anthony explains in “Juries on Trial:”

crit72 fall 2011

The task that the jury must undertake is not easy to accomplish in a matter of minutes for each student. Most projects become quite complicated and involved by virtue of the issues they address, and criticizing the final project without considering the design process neglects the importance of that process. Process should be the most emphasized aspect of design in our schools since it can be applied, in one way or another, to every problem.

Crit: Journal of the AIAS Fall 2011  

Crit, a celebration of student work in the field of architecture (ISSN 0277 6863), is published by the American Institute of Architecture St...

Crit: Journal of the AIAS Fall 2011  

Crit, a celebration of student work in the field of architecture (ISSN 0277 6863), is published by the American Institute of Architecture St...

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