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GSD's Open House, LA style
by Katy Purviance on 04/07/08 @ 10:52:02 pm
Categories: Architects, Events, Applying to Grad School, Grad School | 493 words | 1364 views

Harvard’s Graduate School of Design held their Open House last Friday. But what about the admitted students who couldn’t make it to Cambridge?

They thought of that. They had an event for LA-area admitted students tonight.

The shindig was hosted by Harvard alumnus Michael Lehrer of Lehrer Architects.

It wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pretty sure there would be sandwiches.

(They were pretty good.)

Two other admitted students came – Karolina, originally from Poland, and Jose, from Costa Rica. I brought my boyfriend along so that he could better appreciate the workings of the architect’s mind.

Michael told us about life at Harvard. He is heavily involved in the Alumni Association and returns twice a year. Now that his son is a student there, I’m sure he’ll return more often.

He talked to us about the difference between a job, a career, and a calling. My boyfriend and I had been talking about this on our drive from Culver City to Silver Lake. Since I have discovered my calling, I have been trying to help others discover their callings too. Most people I know hate their jobs.

Michael said, sure you can get any job. It’s something to do. It might even be a good job, but if you’re heart’s not in it, it probably won’t make you very happy.

A career is something you can feel a little more proud about. It requires specialized training. It pays more than a job. It can make you feel pretty good.

But a calling is something you have to do. It can be a blessing or a curse. If you’ve got a calling, but lack the skills – or the opportunities – to truly revel in your calling, you’ll be miserable. But if you can live your calling, that’s sublime.

Michael took us on a tour through his large open office. His office has won awards. When you walk inside, you can see the whole office at a glance. Thanks to all of the clerestory windows, they don’t have to turn on the lights.

And two large glass-panel garage doors open up one end of the building to permit plenty of air.

Outside is a bamboo garden. They have created a meeting room by growing bamboo around a sunken square terrace.

I couldn’t help but think about my job. We don’t have clerestory windows. We don’t have any windows. We can’t open an enormous door to the outside. Instead, we have a poorly designed forced air air conditioner that is always on the Cold setting. It brings the microwaved smells of popcorn from the floor above. And our meeting room is another windowless room, even colder than our office. It certainly does not sport a bamboo perimeter.

Because I wasn’t sure what to expect, or who would be there, I had brought my portfolio along. Michael took a look through it.

“No wonder you got accepted,” he said.

That’s a good feeling.

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I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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