In Which It’s Just Not That Much Fun Right Now

This semester’s studio, as I’ve mention before, is my comprehensive studio. That means we do one project over the whole semester and we have to do all the stuff a real architect would have to do on a project (all the detailing, making sure it doesn’t leak, all the mechanical stuff, Appendix B, etc.); I guess it’s supposed to be a decent representation of working in a firm, and we have to do it to graduate. So we’ve spent the last couple three or so months working on this one project.

And it’s not fun anymore. I like having the time to really think about the ideas and meanings behind my design, but I’m really not liking doing all the technical “real world” work. It was going along okay until this last review, where we had to have detailed wall sections and stuff like that, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s almost actively depressing to work on this project right now. I’m normally so excited by architecture, and I still am whenever I see it anywhere else, but having to do all the detail work of this project is pouring so much water on the fire. Thankfully I only have two weeks left and then the rest of my studios will be topical ones that I will probably have a lot of fun with, so if I can just get through these two weeks I’ll get a month-long time of rest and renewal and I’ll be okay. But it’s tough to work on the project much anymore. It’s not that I just don’t want to put in the time and work necessary to do all the detailing, it just doesn’t excite me. I’d so much rather focus on the ideas and meanings behind every part of the building than figuring out how every part of the building works.

So I’m kind of rethinking things a little bit. Rather than expecting to graduate, get a job in a firm, and make a life out of that, I’m looking at things like “paper architecture,” writing, and teaching. Paper architecture, basically, is theoretical architecture that usually doesn’t get built, and it’s actually a pretty respected field of architecture; it’s how some of the fathers of Modernism started to make their mark, and it’s all groups like SuperStudio and Archigram really every did. So it’s a viable field, and doing things like that would let me focus on the parts of architecture I really like (ideas, meaning, theory, etc.).

I don’t care about being a famous architect. All I want is to be able to help people through architecture. So right now I’m thinking that if I did paper architecture, taught architecture, wrote about architecture, and designed a small house every now and then if someone asked me to, I could help people pretty well. I am inspired by some of the teachers at my school, and of course I am interested in writing, so we’ll see where it takes me. But right now, I don’t see myself going down the normal path of graduating, getting a job in a big firm, and being a typical architect for the rest of my life. I don’t think it would be a life I’d enjoy, because I’m not enjoying it right now.

Don’t take all this to mean I’m giving up on architecture, please, or that I’m totaly ruling out working in a firm and all that. I’m just thinking about other options within architecture.


5 thoughts on “In Which It’s Just Not That Much Fun Right Now

  1. Don’t let one bad experience ruin the rest of architecture. You wouldn’t swear off all foreign food just because you got sick from one bad piece of meat, would you?

  2. Josh says:

    no, i’m not letting it ruin architecture. i still very much want to do architecture. i’m just thinking about going at it from a different angle.

  3. nate says:

    I say you should help with some Habitat for Humanity builds for renewal. Then you can stand back from the wall you’re working on and say, “Crap, this thing isn’t efficient at all- the whole system is antiquated. Sure, they’re getting a house for cheap and that’s what they need, but these walls, windows, doors and more aren’t truly efficient. They’ll be pouring money into the energy costs and upkeep more rapidly than they really need to… wait, but I know how this could be better.”
    I’m not going into architecture, but having worked plenty of construction now has me very interested in it, because I’ve seen where architecture can help carry general construction so much farther, and most of that is in the details. Regardless, I’m praying for you and excited that you are learning, even in the hard times. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

  4. nate says:

    further… carry it so much further. please esxcuse my poor grammar.

  5. Steve says:

    Welcome to the profession Josh. It’s about 5% fun, and 95% pain in the butt. But God is in the details…as I’m sure you’ve heard. Detailing is actually part of the job from which I get the most satisfaction. To each his own. But don’t close any doors yet. You really need to try and work at a firm to see if you’ll like it…and you’ll need to work at 4 or 5 of them to find the right one.
    I have some friends in the paper architecture world, and it’s not for everybody either. One of my best friends from school has turned into a studio professor, and honestly, he struggles a bit with depression. It’s hard developing friendships and connections with students, and then watching them move on and up. It’s easy to feel “stuck”.

    Enjoy the break, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family.

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