Thought Talk: Crazy

An interesting conversation arose today in Studio C with a couple of students and Pablo, and it deserves to be discussed between all of us. The question is: Would you describe the projects this semester as crazy? Could or should the semester have been crazier? What is crazy anyway? Dan Gehr, if I quote him correctly, wished for bigger, badder models and projects. I would argue instead that studio shouldn’t mandate craziness – let the students who want to be crazy be crazy on their own.

Your thoughts?



3 Comments on “Thought Talk: Crazy”

  1. johntswan says:

    Well I think Jim summed up the answer to this quest quite nicely during his lecture this past Monday. The quote on the screen that he left up at the talk’s closing said, in short, that one should lead man beyond what he can be for him to become what he should be. While I don’t want this to boil down to a pissing match over semantics and what a word means (like most conversations during critiques do), I’m going to assume that we are understanding “crazy” to imply a sense of our work (model size, formalistic choices etc) being beyond our preconceived notion of what we should be doing as architectural designers. In this way having a semester that is “crazy” is anything but a bad thing. It is the most productive thing we could possibly be doing. We can all learn how to draft, draw, paint, render, photoshop, and craft wood/chipboard/cardboard by merely going online, or checking out a few books. These things are cheap and are not why (I presume) any of us are pursuing architecture, faculty included. While we do need to be exposed to these things if we aren’t already, it should not be the focus of any foundation program. In stead we, as freshmen art/architecture/design students should all ditch any hubris that we may have and acknowledge that we know absolutely nothing at all about our field (just as every incoming student in every other college knows nothing of the field they are diving into). Now is the time to do things that are “crazy.” We are blind to opportunities and doing these “crazy” things can we begin to open our eyes. Only when our eyes are opened will we ever be able to be and to design in a way that we ought to–that speaks to a character that is truly our own and not of any mode or style of another.

    • Sharon Rubin says:

      I completely agree with you, John, but how long does this “crazy” phase extend to? While this habit may be applauded by the first year second semester faculty and curriculum, what about in latter years? I think our next challenge is going to keep this explorative and experimental attitude while dealing with more “realistic” projects. We can’t live in this fantasy forever, so how does one assimilate fantastical ideas and realistic expectations? I don’t have an answer, but I’m very interested in what our student body will produce next semester.

      • johntswan says:

        Personally, I feel it is up to us to decide what realistic is. In the end realism is only in the details. Details are taught, voices aren’t. So yes, architecture school should focus on what can be taught, but it would be too much of a cop out for an institution to just leave it at that and say “oh well, we let them play in the sandbox during their first year.” What could be more productive for a fledgling architect than to design something fantastic that was only precedented in his or her own subconscious, and then to be told by their instructor “alright, now make it happen”? Great architecture is never considered to be so because it’s exceptionally realistic; it doesn’t take a great architect to build a box. Think of all of the great architects and designers since Michelangelo (I’d even open it up to thinkers in general and include all other fields: math, science, literature etc), their work stands out because they pushed the limit of what was considered to be realistic or sensible. Nobody 100, 50, or 25 years ago would believe the things that we are doing today. And let’s be honest, the only thing holding architects back today is money, not gravity. While I do accept that architecture shouldn’t be so masturbatory in that it is only a medium for the architect to enjoy or understand, I do believe that we all should never stop being or be afraid of doing something “crazy.” It should stay with us throughout our career. And like I said before, learning realism costs as much as an internet connection.

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