I miss architecture school, I really do. It didn't feel so much like it at the time but reminiscing about all those late night studio sessions brings me joy. I miss that hour when it was starting to get too late in the night, when people started getting weird, when it was peaceful. Sitting there with an exacto knife slashing at some foam-core, creating, evolving, massaging, like one of my teachers used to say. It was fun man, talking about our projects with my fellow students, pushing our ideas forward. I miss the nervousness I felt right before “pinning-up” all my hard work. I miss the feeling of relief after getting mauled by whoever happened to be in the panel of critics on “crit” day. It was liberating, creating something out of nothing, developing an idea so far and putting the “final” product on the board, it felt good.
I miss walking around checking out other people’s work. Seeing who was more “out-there” and who was more pragmatic, being a critic on my own. It was hard for me to be a critic though, I always felt like an asshole if I were to say something negative about somebody else’s hard work, because I thought everyone put in so much effort in to it. But it got easier as I grew in school. I miss the competitiveness aspect of studio, how beautiful some people’s drawings were, the intricacies of laying out a presentation board that made sense. I miss seeing a beautiful presentation, well articulated with amazing graphics that would not work for shit in the real world.
When I got my first real job after architecture school I was welcomed with a shit ton of rules. Pretty design drawings became construction drawings, theory was replaced by the building code, and presentations converted into arguments at the city’s building department. Now, I am not saying that architecture after school becomes a bore, far from it, for me it became a whole new learning experience, what I am saying is that I was never prepared for it. I am also not blaming the school for it either, I wouldn't trade the education I received for anything, I do blame myself though. I should have worked outside of school, real work, not being an intern but in the construction industry. Being on a construction site is eye opening, it helps on really understanding how everything comes together, the sequence of the work, the process of constructing a building. Touching and feeling the materials that will develop into an architectural experience.
The most successful architects are the ones who make innovation look easy. It is not easy, it is very hard and it takes tons of work. There needs to be a thorough understanding of the fundamental rules of building. We are lacking master builders in this day and age. You can hide yourself in the mantra of a “paper architect”, teacher or theorist all you want, and that's okay. But the crude reality of the business side of it is that the practice of architecture still revolves around building and there are rules to this shit. In order to experiment we must master the basics.