An initial note: The following is a list of frustrations that I have observed and experienced as a student of architecture, compiled in the form of a how-not-to manual for teaching studio. Following that is an essay that expresses the chain of thoughts behind this list. Neither are objective nor without contradictions or exceptions to the rule, but I hope are still worth discussing none the less.


Frame the studio. It is your responsibility to establish what the studio investigates this semester. Feel free to tell your students what that will be, but withhold references, historical background, and other details as to "why" if it would compromise time for production.

Put on a show. Pinups are one of the only times others can see your studio's work. Make sure each pinup is twice as large in area and number of items compared to every other professor, to establish your studio's dominance.

Do multiples. Since the number of items needed for a productive discussion is about half of the total number you're requesting, compensate by doing multiples of things. That way there are two unfinished versions of the same thing instead of one thoughtful one. This might not make a lot sense to your students, but they'll do it.

Consider the time to complete assignments. It should be more than the time that is available. It is necessary to assign an excess so students are working in studio as long as possible, maximizing production. They will work through the night and day, forgoing other classes and activities in order to approach the goals you've set.

Address unfinished work. If you're students fail to complete all that is asked of them, it should be assumed that it is due to the students lack of determination and skill. To correct, schedule updated presentations incessantly, and ensure progress through required desk critiques with the TA after hours and on weekends frequently.

Listen to feedback. To keep students invested, be sure to ask what their thoughts are following a review. They will likely express similar thoughts to whatever you just told them. They will try to express that they understand even if they don't necessarily, because they don't want to be perceived as lost or more behind, especially after a tough pinup.

Update items continuously. It is important to keep all elements of a project up to date. Changes in a section must be shown in the plan, elevation, rendering etc. When changes are assigned, all materials should reflect that change by the next class period.

Studios fluctuate. Sometimes things will click, students will get it and ride with you into the sunset, and other times they will not. When things aren't clicking with your students, keep going as usual, you are the one in charge after all and the students they should catch on if they intend to do well.

Keep to schedule. Deskcrits can be long, and often there are other meetings or errands to do in a day that might cut into that time. If you have a meeting during studio, your students don't need advance notice, and if it runs long, feel free to catch the train on your way out. The students who didn't hear from you shouldn't mind, and will be glad to send you an email of their progress and expect no response back.

By the end of the semester, hopefully your students are overworked, under taught, and embody a lack of investment in their own projects. They will be better prepared to endure the real world, carrying thousands of dollars of debt for many years to come, and an inability to adequately convey their own suppressed ideas.

The relationship between students and professors is one that I've found myself considering more and more every semester. I would like to clarify that I do not think that this is the exact thought process for any professor I've met. And for the most part I have been extremely satisfied with my own education and studios that I have participated in and assisted, and I do not intend for this list to discredit the wonderful teachers and students I've encountered. But the concerns I and so many students often share among ourselves don't always seem to reach very far, so I would like to express of few of those thoughts below.


I think a potential root to every item in this list might be expressed as this: a lack of respect and empathy. 


Education is a fundamentally different issue than work. An employee or business owner works to satisfy the needs of a client, business, or higher up, and is paid for that effort. The student will often incur enormous expense to attend a university for several years, authoring projects in a studio to advance their own knowledge, sharpen their skills, and earn a degree. That investment should not be taken lightly, and writes an requires that the professor is responsible to making that investment worthwhile. If students are not taught to respect their own time, ideas, and abilities in school, than how could they be expected to do so going forward?

An essay title Rot Munching Architects ends its story of architectural discontent with this:


The ground of architecture will someday soon become fertile from decomposition; it awaits a new generation of seed-planters equipped with the self-worth, confidence, and ambition to resist the temptation of easily reachable, decaying ground fruit. All it takes to reach the more nourishing and sweet growth higher on the tree is to learn to stand erect, stretch, and reach straight upward using the piece of anatomy most often neglected by architects today—the spine.