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What does it mean to devote yourself to architecture?
by Katy Purviance on 02/17/09 @ 08:41:14 pm
Categories: Architects, Grad School | 366 words | 1976 views

I just want to know.

Why does making a study of architecture = staring at a computer all day?

Why does it mean placing your entire life, your relationships, your friendships, your hobbies, your meals, your sleeping, your sanity, everything on hold?

My classmates stay up most of the night, every night, staring like zombies at their computer screens, contorting their spines into curious shapes in order to accomodate the low-to-the-desk screens of their laptops. Everyone looks pale and sick. We all look like hell.

I am on Day Two of my boycott against the insanity.

You know what I did instead?

I went outside. Gasp! Into the sunlight and fresh air!

And then later I delighted myself by taking photographs of beautiful old brick buildings here in Boston.

And then later I pleasured myself by paging through a book about tree houses around the world!

Oh architecture, I still love you. I continued to be fascinated by you and your ways. I still want to learn to speak your language so that I can utter your terribly beautiful poetry.

But this pedagogy is making me lose my mind!

The other day, I was describing our current project to my boyfriend.

He asked, “But, aren’t you supposed to be designing something *real*?”

His comment frustrated me.

It frustrated me because I agree with him. I think we should be doing “something real.” I think we should be outside building. Talking to people. Seeing how we can improve their lives. We should be talking to real architects. We should be going to planning and zoning meetings. We should be out in the community gaining first hand experience. Changing lives. Being brilliant. You know, all the things we came here to do.

Instead, all of our hours are filled with staring at our computer screens, cut off from humanity, working in a state of exhaustion, frustration, and panic.

Is this the best way to teach the next generation of architects? Really?

(Is this why our school goes by the name Graduate School of Divorce?)

(And is this why so many people who get a degree in architecture go into another field altogether after graduation?)

I just want to know.

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Previous post: The messy divorce between architect and builder
Next post: It's not about actually building something.

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

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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