2018 THE VIRGINIA ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

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LESSONS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT

November 5, 2017

You encounter a wide range of personalities while studying architecture at a university. Often, the most idiosyncratic of these are the studio professors, architects who have either ended or suspended their careers as designers in order to impart the skills of the trade unto young minds. These individuals encompass a spectrum of didactic approaches. In my experience, these approaches can be grouped into two major categories based on the respective years each professor has been teaching architecture. I think its unavoidable to use the words old and young when discussing these categories. However, this is not to imply that old or young may be derogatory terms as each has their respective benefits. With age comes wisdom, and with youth, vitality.

 

Young professors offer valuable insight into the trajectory of contemporary architectural practice. Where they lack in teaching experience, they have abundant technical prowess. My semesters with young professors have challenged me to hone my skills with various programs, namely the Adobe Suite, Rhino, and AutoCAD. In addition, young professors, especially those who are still practicing architects have a thorough understanding of what it takes to succeed as a modern architect. In an increasingly digital world, firms are demanding a high level of skill with software, fabrication workflows, and digital presentation. The lessons imparted by younger professors have prepared me for my internships by allowing me to feel comfortable with the digital side of architecture.

 

On the other hand, seasoned professors often have a more extensive network of connections within the professional realm. If you are seeking professional experience the older professors can be invaluable. In terms of teaching methodology, seasoned profs generally have a more comprehensive understanding of the design process and how to teach it. In their education, they were taught the essentials of pre-digital design: sketching, drafting, and model building. Even in the age of computer aided design, these skills remain paramount to a successful workflow. In the studio, seasoned professors can see through the glitz and showmanship; particularly aesthetically pleasing drawings or models will not distract them from realizing the shortcomings of a concept. I have learned more about refining my initial design approach from these professors than I have from their younger colleagues.

 

It becomes rather obvious that there is an inverse relationship between the two types of professors. One groups pros are the other groups cons and vice versa. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to have both young and old professors at any respectable architecture school. This lays the framework for a complete design education, comprised of new techniques backed by classical theory. I’ll dare to say; this blend of youthful vitality and extensive experience is what makes our architecture department at Campbell Hall one of the strongest in the nation.

 

 

 

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