This weekend I was asked if I was excited to be done with school. I have been asked this question before and have given a variety of answers, typically depending on how well or poorly my classes are going at the moment. But this time I paused and gave it some thought before answering. Maybe it was because I was in a car in the midst of a long, long drive or maybe because I am only one semester away from finishing up my degree. Either way, I cobbled together a more in-depth response that has stuck with me and prompted more thought and reflection.
Over the past 2 years of school, I have become more and more acquainted with the value and importance of academic thought. I believe that schools are pushing the boundaries of architecture just as much if not more than practice. The restrictions and fetters of practice just are not present in academic thought. The ideas are free to be as broad, crazy, and impossible as the creators imagination allows. There are restrictions but they are not comparable to the parameters of practice. As I understand it, the goal of school is to broaden your mind, to find information and even inspiration in unlikely places, and to chase ideas and concepts down various rabbit holes to see what becomes of them. The focus of school is on the ideas and concepts and the exploration of those is paramount.
I have been lucky to roam the academic world for the past two years but I can honestly say that I am ready and even excited to leave. In practice there is a rigor born from reality that is not present in school. Meetings and consultants and red lines are all realities that must be addressed. The intricacies of all of these things have real impact manifested in a leaky building, a happy client, and a bloody set of drawings handed down to the intern from the project architect. I miss these kinds of interactions and the learning associated with them.
I want to better understand how a building is actually put together. In studio, I would design a space, a form, and investigate it for quality and function. I would analyze the light quality through daylight studies, the energy use through modeling software, and the spatial quality through renderings. I would try to understand the concept in an academic sense. What I am most looking forward to now is testing those ideas in a real sense. Taking a concept and expanding the testing of it beyond the academic aspects, taking it to a real Client with a budget and sorting through how to achieve the concept.
School has been very worthwhile by providing me with a level of confidence in my ideas that I previously lacked, but what I am looking forward to most now is the testing of these ideas against the realities of practice. We’ll see how it goes but for now, I can say that after reflection and though, I’m excited to be done with school.