UDM School of Architecture

Entries Tagged as 'Academics'

On the Radio

March 23rd, 2011 · No Comments

Designing is difficult business, it requires the right combination of atmosphere, motivation, energy, and of course music. When I am designing it is the one time that I can, or even like to work with music, but just any music won’t do. It seems like each persons design process is aided by different music. Once you get a room of eight to twelve people all needing different types, styles, and volumes of music it can get a bit tense.

Of course everyone should just be listening through headphones, however you can only do that for so long before it becomes uncomfortable. Then your ears hurt and you just want some space between the music and you. Even scarier than the space between, is when you are wielding and exacto blade and you are tired wearing headphones, I am certain some day I will cut the cord. I haven’t done it yet in my five years but there is still six weeks. Inevitably everyone wants their music and doesn’t want to wear headphones.

Solutions to the great musical debate are a vast as the types of music you will hear in the architecture building. Some studios resort to a time sharing plan, where each person listens to their music for an hour and the ‘dj’ rotates. Other studios don’t care who plays the music, and instead opts for a broad framework of styles that are acceptable, like anything but country. The benefits of these approaches is in allowing everyone to still be able to talk and the exposure to different types of music, which can be great for expanding your library. Others, however, do not use such peaceful approaches and instead individuals try to out volume each other for music dominance, this is the one realm where owning a Mac will put you behind. Yet others just break down and all confine themselves to headphones, which is the saddest state of all, simply for the loss of communication created.

Music is a beautiful things, that seems to greatly influence everyone’s design process. However, your studio chooses to resolve the great music debate, do it peacefully.

Tags: Academics

The products of an eventful trip to the store:

March 14th, 2011 · No Comments

Honey, Fresh Roll, and Plum

This morning I was feeling ambitious. Maybe it was the warm sun rays through the window. Possibly it was just the feeling I get after a great night’s rest that makes me want to do the things that tired me out in the first place all over again. Whatever it was, it spurred me on to head over to Hala Kopinska, a supermarket nearby with a flavor of its own.
Hala kopinska is a mere trip down the stairs (or elevator), a right turn, and a crosswalk away from Babilon where I live. The shelves are filled with types of breads, cereals, teas, spices. There are some similarities in the types of food, but how they prepare the food in Poland is nearly entirely different. To add one more to the mix: nearly every word is in a different language. For someone who cares about what is in their food (but still likes to try it a different way) the market becomes an adventure.
I have been called a “foodie” which apparently means that I love food. I will say this: I love to cook because I find it fascinating, like a delightful and mysterious language that you can taste, smell, feel, hear, and watch as it changes and melds together before you. It comes together into forms and colors that are beautiful together and if that is not enough you are then able to let it roll over your tongue transcending your taste to your mind. I have much more to say about this, but I will hold myself back. I guess I am guilty as charged.
On the way down I grabbed a quick breakfast. Juggling the food in my hands as I stepped down the stairs with my head phones in jamming to some morning music. I had a hard boiled egg, a tomato, and some cheese bread from a previous essentials only trip to the store.
That is what this trip was supposed to be. But I fell to the charm of the market. I found myself remembering all of the spices I missed, and soon all I wanted to try. I walked away with the basic salt and ground pepper with some cayenne and curry. I know which ones I want to try next. Next I went to grab a couple of rolls, which are very cheap here- only .2 zl which comes to about 6cents. To my surprise the texture of the sesame seeds was warmed with the feeling of soft (yet crispy) sensation which only meant one thing: fresh baked bread. I bought more than I intended. The mysterious Miod (honey) that always seemed to entice me on the racks was unavoidable at this point.
I walked out with 44zl worth of produce. I bought .7kg of honey for 16zl which is a steal, some bread and cereal items, oats, eggs, and some oranges (since they were on sale). Also some unusually good looking plums.
This morning with the sun rays warming my thoughts for an early lunch, I ate the products of my eventful and exciting adventure to Hala Kopinska. A warm fresh baked poppy seed roll the size of my half opened hand. Every crevice of it was explored by the fresh honey, and topped with a fresh juicy plum. I was pleasantly surprised, yes surprised, because it did not taste even like I imagined it would.
The honey smelled different. I am trying to think of how I can describe this to you without making my very tasty meal sound unappetizing, because as I have been saying that is certainly untrue. It has the aroma of a sweet animal like must. Like a dog (not a dirty one, just a dog) and the sharp scent of honey. I believe this is because it is not filtered or pasteurized to kill the bacteria (but as I have been told also the good parts).
That said I am feeling very fulfilled with having discovered and learned something after an adventure. Maybe to you I am a romantic. But to me I am OK with it, I am having a blast. Like the accusation of me being a foodie, I am fine with being a romantic- a second count guilty as charged

Tags: Academics · Poland

Halfway – Spring Break

March 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

It is hard to believe but the winter term is already halfway done. Spring break arrives on Friday, and I am sure many students are ready for that break. The best news is this means the worst of winter has past. The sun is out a bit longer each day, just as in Poland, and even on the coldest days if the sun is out it doesn’t stay as cold as it would just weeks ago.

This also means that thesis students are on their downhill slide. There is only eight weeks left, and students are frantic to get work done. Just as the sun is out longer students are working in studio longer too. If you get the chance to enjoy a spring break away, do so responsibility and have safe travels.

Tags: Academics

The Importance of Critque

February 21st, 2011 · No Comments

Part of the educational process that makes architecture different from many other areas of study is the nature of critique and the possibility for students and faculty to engage in a discourse about their work. This discussion and presentation has some very impressive effects for students and the way they think.

The first benefit of this process is the building on confidence and comfort in public speaking. The format of the critique, a presentation to your peers, professors, and guests from varied fields, many of whom possess weighty credentials, teaches one to be comfortable presenting their work and what they have a deep knowledge of.

In addition, the process of design and critique, or problem solving and discuss, furthers ones ability to think critically. This is a huge skill to have for the future. The benefit of this is that it drives one to question what they think is the right answer, and see the multitude of other possible correct answers. Because in life there is hardly ever one single correct answer, instead there is a wide variety of possibilities.

Finally, the process of critique is a chance to learn from ones own experience, but also to learn from the experience of others as well. The ability to watch and see how ones classmates have approached the same situation may spark a thought that would have never happened if left to think alone.

All of this combined is why critiques are a critical element of the architecture experience, as well as why an architectural experience sets individuals apart from others.

Tags: Academics · Architecture


December 5th, 2010 · No Comments

Hey everyone congratulations on finishing studio for the Fall semester. If you are not done yet you will be very soon. Hopefully you got to enjoy the wonderful breakfast hosted by the SOA Alumni and AIAS. Special thanks to both groups for their continued effort supporting our students hard work.

Be sure to sign up if you haven’t for printing, slots are filling up quickly. And last but not least remember to take some time in the next week to drop in and check out the various critiques happening throughout the week. Masters crits run Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and Undergrad crits run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Great job everyone and good luck with your critiques in the coming week, and with all those papers and other projects you have been putting off to finish studio.

Tags: Academics

Oxford Brookes Exchange Event

December 1st, 2010 · No Comments

Just a reminder that the deadline for submitting to participate in the Oxford Brookes Exchange seminars is coming soon, Friday Dec. 3 to be exact. Participants in the event will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on the urban environment with students from Oxford Brookes University in England, paticipation is open to 4th and 5th year students.

For those of you who don’t know, students from Oxford Brookes, came to Detroit last year as well to participate in a charrette with UDM students. Last years events focused on several sites and ideas for urban environments. That included ‘recycling’ based highly customizable manufacturing of green automobiles, long distance rapid (high-speed rail) commuting from Chicago and Toronto to Detroit creating a Midwestern hub, and an art and food based community intervention for the near east side.

This years event looks to be based on numerous seminars and discussions and multiple urban issues. And if anything like last years event will produce lots of great conversations and connections for students from both sides of the Atlantic.

PS remember to back up your files.

Tags: Academics

The Final Countdown

November 27th, 2010 · No Comments

The end is near, and its the final countdown… on a cello.


It being that time remember to sign up to print in the lab and DCDC times will fill up quick. Also be sure to be backing up your work. And finally don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Tags: Academics

It’s That Time Again

November 17th, 2010 · 1 Comment

There is only 2 and 1/2 weeks of studio left this term. This means it is crunch time, and therefore people start doing some funny things under the pressure of it all. The lack of sleep will do that to you. To make it through here are some handy hints.

COFFEE drink lots of coffee it will keep you up and productive. You are going to need it, after that whole term of not doing enough work.

Remember to eat, the biggest issue with this time of year is getting so caught up in your work that you forget to eat. It will keep you energized.

Always be prepared, due to the amount of time you’ll be spending in studio it is best to carry anything you may need on you. Suggestions a toothbrush, a brush or comb, mouthwash, some snacks, and some small cash for those needful snacks you forgot.

Hint: buy soda and snacks from Grounds for that late night pick me up, Soda is only $.50! You can get twice as much and you’ll probably need it.

Comfy clothes are a must, if you are going to be up all the time best to be comfy.

HEADPHONES are a virtual life saver, they allow you to block out the rest of studio that is now full of students, and get down to business to your favorite grooves.

Back up your files! Back up your files! Back up your files! Bad things always happen to your computer around finals and that can leave you without a project so its best to have it in many places.

And finally when you get a chance get some SLEEP! It will help so much more than anything else could.

Tags: Academics

Return on Design Recap

October 24th, 2010 · No Comments

On Friday (October 22) Matt Rosetti presented his lecture “Return on Design” which is a play on ROI or Return on Investment. The premise of this lecture and Rosetti’s practice is that architects have become too risk adverse to be competitive, and thus see an increasing irrelevance. The lecture was packed with fantastic graphics and quotes from an article that was published in ARCHITECT by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson (see the link is below).

The reality of the situation according to Rosetti is that “maybe .023% will be a Zaha Hadid or Norman Foster, the rest of us must work for our clients, we will not have unlimited budgets.” To really facilitate working for our clients Matt pulled a quote from Gino Rosetti, his father, that we as the architect in practice must, “become students of your clients” in that we must study and understand them and their language to give us an edge in providing good design for them. Which in return provides good work and wages for us. In order for all of this to happen though, it is imperative to understand business and finance, or we as architects will be relegated to the sidelines. Rosetti goes on to state that:

“business planning and economics is not rocket science. In short it is about profitability.”

And according to Rosetti for us to provide architecture that enhances our clients profitability we must show them why our design is best for their business, whether that is through improving efficiency as in the case of Rosetti’s Compuware project, or highlighting the company culture that produces the money as in their headquarters from Domino’s Pizza.  The ability to highlight how good architecture makes good business sense allows examples like Ford Field, a highly contextual stadium, generate more income and make the act of going to a football game more than just the game, providing winning solutions of all parties involved. Ultimately for Rosetti, and the future of architecture as he sees it, programming and planning for finances is the enabler of work.

Of course in all of this there is a risk, but there are ways to mitigate some of the risk, like knowing the market that you are working in and having your numbers checked by economic experts, and the rest is a part of business. The alternative is being  “relegated to the sidelines.” So which is worst being on the sidelines or having to take a risk.

Read the Dickinson article that served as a background for ROD below:


Tags: Academics · Lectures · UDM GLFEA Lecture Series

The Importance of Passion

October 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

I am going to break some hard truths here, being the end of midterm week and all. Sometimes architecture school can be overwhelming. I know, big surprise, right? It can seem like a marathon race, to a marathon. However, no matter how overwhelming it can be, there is always a reason that we do it. Passion. That passion is critical, as I dig further and further into masters year, that passion is what drives my project, and by default my life. That fact, it is true of all of us.

Over the summer between last school year and this, I read, alot. Searching and digging for things that peaked my interested, something that would bring that spark of excitement to school. For me, with my focus on women and gender studies and progressive activism, my clear choice was queer spaces. From there, I found myself spending hours upon hours of trying to pull ideas out of my head to write a single page abstract. Something that explains something so detailed and rich in my mind down to a simple and broadly understood idea of what I want to work on. Then school starts.

Things speed up from there, as these big picture ideas then need to become something that can be made, an idea that can be illustrated. I read more, and more, and more. As I read something, an idea, a concept, it hits me and suddenly more and more of the world in my mind makes sense. A flurry of activity proceeds from the find, a golden nugget from the mine, that becomes so precious, it is an obsession. Then it is time speak with my adviser, the ideas get shaken up and I walk away more dazed and confused than when I began.  And the process starts all over.

Although all of this process seems so daunting, and overwhelming. It is the passion that each one of us holds that makes each one of those high points the most euphoric experience one can have. Whether you are in your first year, or your last, you are applying to travel abroad, or to the masters program, remember what will carry you is that passion. It is what architecture school is about.

Tags: Academics