I had a mid-term critique on Tuesday before my entire thesis committee. I also invited three other members of the architecture faculty to contribute, though Jim Potter was the only one able to attend. His critiques were right on the mark and well delivered (aka minus the scathing tone favored by some professors). The others were likewise helpful in the comments and then entire critique went quite well. That is not what troubles me.
I presented two designs. The first was a concept of my choosing which I had then articulated in the manner prescribed to me by my guiding professors. Jim presciently pointed out that the resulting schematic building was “trapped by it’s geometry,” to which I wholeheartedly agreed. I had felt trapped by the process and the result it created throughout that entire design and had struggled against it to my and my professors discomfort, even going so far as to question them “Is this process supposed to be so constraining? So linear? Is there another way to do this?” to which they responded with puzzlement or frustration.
The second design was created more or less my own way. Again I had a concept of my choosing, but I decided not to articulate it diagrammatically but rather simply hold it in the back of my mind as I laid out the building spaces. The final result was something which, while I am not nearly satisfied with it, is much more promising. When I presented it to them, I even presented it without any concept diagrams (which I have been chastised for as a big no-no in the past) simply due to technical difficulties which prevented me from printing them in time for the review. Despite this, the critiquers had no trouble understanding my concept as I explained it, showed a few very early concept sketches, and then demonstrated it within the schematic design of the buildings. That is because this concept lived in the architecture, not in some random diagram.
As a result, they unanimously preferred my second design. Their comments for affecting its improvement were very useful to me. However, I do not feel like crowing. I was right all along. I should have just done it my way from the beginning. It all rings hollow. I don’t really feel like I learned anything. I wanted to be wrong, I guess.
I think I may learn something in the result. Rumiko’s talk about hierarchy was spot on and Jim’s references to Frank Lloyd Wright will be useful inspiration. But I didn’t learn much about the process other than the way some people evidently do it doesn’t work for me.
Perhaps I am selling my professors short. Perhaps the first attempt was constrained by a less than inspiring concept rather than the process itself. I don’t really believe that though.
Although I feel more comfortable moving forward, I am disquieted by what has been left behind.