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Learning how to build the right way
by Katy Purviance on 03/30/10 @ 03:26:46 pm
Categories: Field Trips, Applying to Grad School, Building | 508 words | 1680 views

Yesterday I showed you some cool brickwork at this house in Del Mar. I woke up this morning remembering a conversation I had with my fiance while we were there.

“You know, in all my years of architecture school, I don’t think we ever went to see an actual construction site. This is very helpful. You know, in The Pyramid of Learning, they say that the best way to learn somethng is to actually do it, and the worst way to learn something is to sit and listen to someone else talk about it, which is exactly how school is conducted. No wonder it takes so long. I wonder how long school would really take if you were out doing the real thing that you wanted to learn to do?”

The Pyramid of Learning

This was my complaint I made while at the GSD:

Unlike last semester’s Building Construction class I took here at the GSD where we copied line drawings out of books in order to fulfill the requirements of our assignments. I didn’t know what all those little black and white lines were, or what they meant. What they were for. Why they’re important. All I knew is that I only had a couple of hours to whip it out so that I could go back to trying to please my insatiable studio critic. In other words, I learned squat about building construction (except what I remember from my Materials & Methods class at the U of I.)

How HELPFUL would it have been if we had just gone to a real live construction site and seen all the layers that go into a building instead of trying to figure out which line weights represented which materials?

How much would I have LEARNED if we could just spend an hour walking around a place half-built instead of paging through our Building Construction IllustratedChing books?

How QUICKLY could we get through architecture school if we spent that time watching people build and then building ourselves?

Half a year ago, one of my former TA’s announced that he was finally an architect. I asked him, “How long did this take you?”

He replied:

Bachelor of Architecture: 6 years
Intern Development Program: 3.5 years
MArch: 1 year
Architect Registration Examination: 5 years (which is really 1 year + a 3 year break + 1 year at the end)

In contrast, you could learn design and building much quicker by attending hands-on workshops.

At Yestermorrow, you could learn timberframing in 6 Days. Stone masonry in 2. Strawbale in 5. You could learn how to design and build an entire home in 12 days.

True, you wouldn’t be able to legally call yourself an architect. You wouldn’t be able to design parking structures and strip malls. But you could also save yourself about $100,000 and years of your life.

Take a look at a few other schools offering short-term workshops:

Have you attended any of these workshops? I’d love to hear from you!

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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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