I recently wrote about how working in an architectural firm compares to architecture school. I realized it might be beneficial to preface that post with this one, outlining all of the reasons I loved architecture school.
Architecture school fostered an inspiring and creative atmosphere.
Classes exploring everything from hand drawing line weights, nude figures, perspectives, and expressive sketching, to digital drafting, 3D modelling, and physical model construction in our faculty shop.
We learned how to “think like an Architect.”
We began with the fundamental principles such as site, floor, door, window, wall, and worked our way through room, single and multifamily residence, institution, etc. Through each step we learned of a variety of ways spaces might be experienced through a variety of senses and how that might impact the individual and society. We learned to look at the built environment in an entirely new way.
There were an incredible variation of classes. Everything from graphic skills, to architectural studios, building science, structures, professional practice, sustainability, and the list goes on. Architecture really is a study of many trades, balanced between art and science.
I developed a broadened understanding of what Architecture is.
Prior to architecture school I knew architecture was something beautiful, creative, and scientific, especially with respect to sustainable living. However, I didn’t realize just how far reaching in to our lives architecture is. It is our entire reality. It is where we sleep, where we eat, where we work, where we play. It can influence mood and productivity, it can address social issues, or ignore them, it can contribute to positive or negative change, it can stimulate economic growth or contribute to poverty, the list goes on.
It was the toughest academic challenge I have faced.
Having done an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences I was used to studying challenging material to then complete challenging tests. However, the answers were always finite and objective. You could either be right or wrong and when your knowledge was tested it was silently in the form of written tests (with a few exceptions). When I proceeded in to architecture school I learned the most challenging thing of all: design is not finite. It will never end if you don’t decide it’s finished. That is how many students will end up spending astronomical numbers of hours on deadline after deadline, until you’ve basically spent a full semester awake. To top it off, when you are forced to finish by a deadline you don’t quietly submit a paper or write a test and then go sleep. Instead, you pull yourself together to present in front of a panel of faculty and guest critics, as well as your peers. Finding the right balance between designing, deadline, stress and composure is a true element of success and one I continue to work on.
I experienced astounding personal growth.
I could and probably will write a full series on personal growth through design. To say that I grew in every possible way during architecture school would be an understatement. I am far stronger as an individual than I ever knew I would even need to be. My self-perception, stress management, and world view exists in a way that was foreign to me prior to architecture school and I am incredibly grateful for that.
My classmates and the studio atmosphere.
I am so grateful for my classmates. People that became my friends, supported me through hard times, challenged me, inspired me, taught me. They saw me at my best and my worst. We learned together, shared ideas, critiqued work, pulled all nighters, went on food runs or pub celebrations. My experiences with these people will never be forgotten!
Our faculty and the Student Association did a great job of enriching school beyond our classes. Networking events, guest lecturers, holiday parties, design charrettes with architects visiting from around the world, etc.
My study abroad opportunity.
I had always wanted to study abroad and it was highly encouraged in architecture school. In our final year, the majority of students went to either Barcelona or Australia depending on personal preference. Our school had organized either trip so the majority of the ground work was already done. All we had to do was sign up, figure out where to live, how to get there, and what side adventures we wanted to embark on. The rest was taken care of. So with that said, I spent four months in Australia and two months backpacking through Southeast Asia. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.
I suppose the main point I want to communicate through this post and my post on school versus work is that architecture school was worth it. If you’re considering pursing a career in design, but you’re afraid, then I say – go for it!
Any insights or questions feel free to post below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.