Architecture studios in college have changed a lot over the last two decades – for the most part, computers and mouse pads have replaced Mayline parallel bars, borco table covers and drafting eraser scumbags. A while back I asked practicing architects to send me a photo of their work environment (here) and the response was really fascinating. Thinking that it would be equally as interesting to see the work environment of architecture students, I sent out the same request. While the response was not as overwhelming (I suppose a considerably higher number of practicing architects read this blog than architecture students), a few brave souls sent in some photos for us to see.
I suppose I didn’t know what to expect other than I thought the images would closely resemble what my college studio looked liked – junky but in an awesome sort of way. Once you got past 1st year, the number of people in one of my design studio’s was around twelve people and we generally had a lot of space to divvy up between us. I seem to recall that each person could plan on having 2 large drafting tables and enough 4′ x 8′ homosote covered panels to create your own biosphere. People tended to populate their new workspace with couches, bookshelves, cutting tables – even refrigerators … it was kick ass.
I kinda recognize some of that in these new studios but there is definitely a different vibe being thrown down these days. A majority of the images I received were of students workspaces in their apartment because they said they could get more work done at home than in the chaotic environment that was studio. What?!? Work at home?? You were a pariah if you did that back in the day (twenty years ago).
I had a jambox “re-purposed” from my space once when I was in 2nd year and I remember being particularly irritated about it because I had just made a brand new mixtape that I had left in the cassette player (does anyone even remember cassette tapes?). I found the jambox two years later in one of the other architecture school buildings, sitting there on a table as if that’s where I had left it two years prior…
… no mixtape.
I look at these pictures and I think my jambox is the last thing that would get “repurposed” from one of these studios.
Photo: Chris Duffel
Photo: Kyle Heying
Photo: Bilal Muhammad
Photo: Robert Pivovarnick
Photo: Aaron Hollander
Photo: Thom Church
Photo: Rafael Ian Pinoy
Photo: Mike Gorrell
Photo: Nicholas Dalziell
Photo: Lubna Chaudry
I still see homosote, blue insulation board, cutting mats and coffee mugs … but I don’t see my youth in there. I am feeling old at 43 but I’m nostalgic for the time I spent in these types of highly charged environments. One of the chief knocks I hear about architecture studio is how much work they demand, that you have no social life, all the things you have to give up in order to be in studio. Twenty years in my rearview mirror, I miss it – I had fun despite the stress and time requirements, maybe even because of them.
So, did you see what you thought you would see? While a few of the pictures I included here look like an art supply store exploded on the table, far more of the images I received were of relatively clean desks with Mac computers sitting on them, desktop printers and obviously internet access. I am not trying to infer that this is a bad thing, just an indication of how things are evolving. I don’t ever want to be labeled with “good ol’ day” syndrome so I was entering into this exercise with an open mind. There were still the familiar sights of different types of glue, Starbucks, headphones, etc. but clearly things have evolved.