It’s the end of the semester, you’ve exhausted all of your ideas, and you’re totally worn out running off minimal sleep and too much caffeine. Your work is pinned up on the wall and it’s time to give your last presentation in front of the final jury. In the grand scheme of things, does this moment even matter? Welcome to Ep 112: Final Presentations in Architecture School.
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What makes a Final Jury different? jump to 1:24
If we take a second to explain what is meant by the term final jury it’s basically about more. More work. More time spent on a project. More drawings and images are on the wall or in the presentation. The obvious notion of the “final” part is that it is definitely at the end of a semester. It is in essence a culmination of the semesters’ work. Now that may not mean it’s a project that has lasted all semester, but it’s not one that was only three to four weeks. It may be a shorter project, but it’s one that is the culmination of all the semester’s work and learning. The idea that it’s the summary, in some way, of a full semester of education is the main component in our definition. Also, it’s at the end of the time for this studio and the life of the project. There is no more work after this jury presentation.
How much time and preparation is involved jump to 11:32
Another item about these final jury presentations is that they represent the most work you have done for a project in the semester. So you have more production than on other projects. Also, this is typically considered to be the “best” and “most complete” representation of a project thus far. For most this would be true that as you progress in architecture school, each final jury comprises more work than the previous semester’s final jury. Of course, this is not always the case, but generally, that is how school progresses.
Another item to mention here is that this project is also one where at some point, be it a week or a few days before the presentation, you stop “designing” and start production. You simply stop project development and earnestly begin the task of creating all the drawings, images, and models that will best represent your project. There may also be a list of required deliverables for the project. You have to stop changing and solidify the project so that you can make all of those documents. It’s not easy. As designers, we always seem to want to do more. To make one more exploration. To try out this other layout. But you just stop and just produce all the stuff.
Hopefully, you will work in some sleep before the time you present your work. There is nothing worse for a juror to have to see and listen to than a student who is sleep-deprived and incoherent while they attempt to explain their otherwise wonderful project. It happens all too often. Again being able to explain your project with words is just as critical as the images you use to convey it. So if you don’t sleep the week leading up to the presentation, at least get some sleep the night before.
What should you take away from this final review? jump to 31:39
One key thing here is to not focus on the “bad” parts of your project. I know that can be easy to do. Also, you don’t need to really focus on the suggested modifications to this project as it is now a thing of the past. There are two key takeaways to get from the final jury if at all possible. First deals with the way others (the guest jury) understand your project. This will tell you something about your graphics skills and your speaking skills. These are the tools you use to sell your project. If the jury doesn’t seem to understand your project as you intended, then one of those two elements needs work. The second is a bit more difficult to explain, but it’s about picking up on how others see the same problem or why the jurors give the suggestions they do. This is about learning how to design better and think more critically. This one may be difficult to always glean from the discussion, but it’s about improving your architectural thought process. So try to understand the “why” behind the jury comments and think about how it can impact your design thought process moving forward.
Should you do anything with this project now? jump to 39:34
Good question. A great deal of the answer depends on what type of project and what phase of your education it occurs. If it is within your first two years of architecture school, it may be best to put them away and take the lessons learned into the next project. If you are later in your educational journey, it may warrant the need to address some of the issues from the review; especially if they are more graphic in nature. It could be advisable to fix that elevation, make that new perspective view, or do those things that the jury asked for or commented on in regard to the way you presented the work. This project may go into your portfolio. That could be for a job application or for graduate school. Either way, it becomes important to strongly consider those jury comments and their ability to improve the project. Making projects look better after the fact is an acceptable action, as long as you keep within certain limits.
However, you should not ever really plan to “redesign” the project. That is never really a good idea. There are multiple reasons for this, but typically it isn’t an efficient or practical use of your time. If you want to rework images or renders because you have learned more skills, then certainly look to apply those. But the idea of redesigning is most likely time better spent doing something else.
Do the juror’s comments impact your final grade? jump to 47:23
For my studios and many of the others I discuss with my colleagues, that answer is an easy “No”. The idea that this jury review has any measurable impact on the overall grade of the semester is almost laughable. The reasoning is that the review process is only a snapshot of the work done by a student throughout the semester. While they present the project in its entirety, it cannot convey the amount of work, discussion, and learning done over the full semester. So the final jury shouldn’t impact the outcome of the semester. Of course, each studio and professor is different, so the mileage may vary.
However, I think the final jury can positively impact a project or maybe affect your grade. If a juror sees something in a project that I didn’t see or really appreciates a solution that I did not, then I may give pause and reconsider my thoughts. But again this would only ever be a positive impact on the student. The issue that usually upsets me is when an invited juror can pick out something that I completely missed; a solution that I couldn’t see or an area that I failed to review prior to this final jury. At that point, I feel like I have subsequently failed my students, or I get a bit contrary because I didn’t think of such a good idea!
There are some other resources that are available here on Life of an Architect if you would like to explore this particular topic in greater detail (or maybe you are just looking for some information that we did not cover in this episode because we have covered it before). The actual art of presentations is covered here:
… and if you are looking for information related to architectural jury presentations (as opposed to just “final” presentations) we have this resource for you:
What the Rank jump to 53:46
We each took a completely different path on this one but somehow ended up in the exact same spot for our top pick. Granted the number one spot has to be the undisputed champion of dinner sides; maybe even all side dishes in the culinary world for that matter. I know that may be a bold reach, but I’m gonna put it out there.
Today we are ranking [drum roll please] ….
What are the Best Three Dinner Sides?
|Bob’s Best Dinner Sides||Asparagus||Corn||Mashed Potatoes|
|Andrew’s Best Dinner Sides||Broccoli Rice Casserole||Macaroni & Cheese||Mashed Potatoes|
While there was some heated discussion about corn and macaroni and cheese, the others were acceptable to us both. I really dislike corn, if not for any other reason than it has no flavor except for what you put onto it. Bob was certain that the vast majority of the time any macaroni and cheese you will get is average at best and not worth consideration into the top 3.
Ep 112: Final Presentations in Architecture School
So final juries present a bit of closure to projects during the educational process. While they can be stressful and tiring, they are a crucial part of the design process if only for the fact that they force a stopping point to what may seem like an endless design iteration cycle. They push students to stop creating ideas and produce a quantity of work to showcase those ideas to someone with no prior knowledge. Hopefully, it culminates in a fabulous experience that improves the students’ work moving forward.
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