January 11, 2012

Reflections from my winter break in the US

(This was a blog entry I was typing on my way back to Canada at the end of winter break in January. However, thought it should be posted up nonetheless here's the preamble:

I think looking at this entry, it reminded me of the life lessons I got from my travels, realize I gotta really work hard to keep it in me and remember cause during the school year and in the stress of it all, it's hard to remember it. I think I need to really define my boundaries of when too much hard work is too much. I'd like to think I'm doing way better now in school than I was a year ago and I think that is a better. I'm not going to compare myself to others right now, not to how other people perform, but how you have grown overall over time is truly the best. If my time ain't gonna be in undergrad...there's always graduate school...at a different university...)

I'm just ending my trip to the United States

What I'm realizing from the experience.
Be fearless. Make Mistakes. Have the guts to stick it out what situation it leads to. I'm gonna be honest, I did a drawing that went against the rules of technique and style that was prescribed. But I was willing to take that risk, and face the consequences. Failure makes you stronger. And don't let that snobby condescending "A-Student" ("A" as in Straight-A aka "A$$#*LE"), or that studio professor discourage you. Some of the best designers went big to spark a conversation and dialogue and reaction - unapologetic if some people dislike what they did.

Become better at managing your time. I'm starting to realize that things our better when it's slowly being built, rebuilt, and revised - like a snowball rolling down a hill getting bigger and bigger.

Have faith in yourself. Do your best, and be happy of what you achieved comparing to what you did in the past, and not where others are. this leads in to my next point.

I think this is a touchy-feeling one. And one of the stories that Mike Lin talked about was about one of his TA`s that passed away. And that story really struck a chord. The moral of this story is that we all have one life to live, and when it`s over we do not want to have any regrets. We can work soo very hard to becoming the best student and crazy designer, however all of that can easily be taken away. I`m not advocating the need to slack. But it reminded me that I need to give myself a break and enjoy life.

Savour the things in this life that are important to you. God, Family, Friends. Live in alignment by your values and integrity. Be humble. Don`t let life`s struggles and trials wear you down. Stay positive and determined.

January 10, 2012

Be Loose Architecture Students.

After AIAS FORUM, I decided to swing by Las Vegas to attend the Be Loose Graphic Workshop by Mike Lin. Mr. Lin is one of the most famous and sought out instructors who is famous for hand graphic rendering and representation. The workshop is a bit pricey, but if you're a student...AND additionally an AIAS member and can afford to take a week trip to Vegas, you can get your tuition fee reduced.

I'm realizing that as a designer, I'm starting to become more interested in hand drawing and old school methods (probabaly because I haven't gotten a good chance of intensity in school to jump in on the digital fabrication stuff...and somehow it's working itself out where I'm exploring where my strengths really lie as a designer). I need to sharpen my swords to design.

Translating what we conceive in our minds to that evocative sketch slowly and develops into a space that is habitable and experiential is what I'm interested. It's what Juhani Palassmaa argues and warns us in his books The Eyes of the Skin and The Thinking Hand that the computer can lead us to designing sterile spaces that lack a human scale and feel, and that our direct use of hands in the doing to make architecture is more evocative, human, and emotional.

I wanted to attend the workshop because I wanted to tighten up my drawing skills, as well as gain more confidence as what Mike promises and delivers. From previous entries, know that I'm two years behind my degree - and for those of you that experience setbacks and failures, It can be really disheartening. I`m straddling the lines between confidence and self-loathing, between working excessively hard and giving yourself some slack. I feel that the workshop drawing exercises and the words of wisdom kinda push yourself to learn more about yourself, reflect on your work ethic and values, and furthermore realizing your potential that anything can happen when you work towards something. Not only that, be happy for your improvements from then and now and not between you and them.

The experience was rewarding. I got to make more friends, and talk to people from various fields - Architecture, Landscape, and Interior Design. Some of the licenced architects in our class encouraged me to keep going. They actually liked my work, and told me to keep working towards becoming an architect. One of them mentioned to me that it`s really about just finishing the degree and not the grades. Some of the TA's mentioned how a setback in design school will mean nothing in the long run for those who want to get in the field. I had a great time, and apparently we were one of the best classes since all of us got along very well. For those students that have experience that Blip...be hopeful, It will work its way out. My next entry will be a reflection from my two weeks stay in the US, and how AIAS Forum and the Be Loose Workshop have gotten me to reflect on life and career.

I Just got (AIAS) FORUM'D

This winter break, I decided to head south to the desert. I was in Phoenix, Arizona for the convention of the American Institute of Architecture Students - the 56th annual AIAS FORUM. This was a great time to re-connect with the friends that I have met in the past year at FORUM when my chapter hosted it in Toronto, and going to the AIAS Grassroots Leadership Convention in Washington.

I really encourage alot of you architecture students to take advantage of student organizations like this because they give you the edge to gain more insights to our profession. Travel is very important to experience as an architecture student, and if you cannot get the opportunity to go across the seas, going to a different North American city can expose you to different issues and experiences that will furthermore inform you as a designer.

This year's convention centered around the theme of Solutions. And we see the various ways in how designers look towards realizing and solving the problems our world and profession faces - as exemplified in the nightly keynote address. Jeffrey Inaba showed in his Keynote the importance of graphically representing data in the design process to illustrate the scope and weight of issues, all the more leading to a much more stronger response to a problem. Teddy Cruz was looking at the current socio-economic issues and it's impact on urban form. Cruz's lecture was thought provoking - informing architecture students to really scrutinize the social, political, and economic factors underlining the design problem. A fuller understanding of a design problem can push us to look at new alternatives to the current design solutions we have. David Zach also dropped by to give us a lecture concerning the future of the world and what are the skills and values that designers need to cope with the emerging trends and technologies. Brad Landcaster gave a humourous and inspiring lecture showing how true sustainable design is attainable and why it must be the norm for designers to imbue into their projects. Definitely it has inspired me to really think about sustainable principles in a design.

These conventions also give students a chance to visit some interesting buildings that the city is all the more well known for. I was fortunate enough to check out the Burton Barr Central Library, which I always remember from the lecture of my second year Theory/Studio professor. This tour gets better - we were toured by the architect who was involved in the design, and was able to get the ins and outs of the building. The same went for the new additions to the Phoenix Art Museum by Todd Williams + Billie Tsien, we were given an introduction by the local architect who worked with them in the additions.

There were so many workshops, and I was fortunate to go to two of them, one of them focusing on communication and public speaking - It pointed out some flaws I need to work on to connect with people. The second one was a leadership seminar lead by our newly elected 2012-2013 AIAS President. Both workshops were enlightening and reminded designers the importance of soft skills and leadership.

Also, this is not just a conference for just academic pursuits - there is the fun aspect. AIAS FORUMs connect you to architecture students from all over the world who share a passion for architecture. you get to socialize in meetings/workshops/tours and on the way, while you wait, when you chill in the lobby/bar/restaurant and lounge. There's also opportunities during the social nights and the Beaux Art Ball.

As with all the AIAS conferences, each one I attend, I try and grow more as a person and push myself. I remember my first conference in Minneapolis and how shy and quiet I've been. and then Uly-Spice in Toronto. Now this year - I decided to do my first charette and I've been more social to connect with people, reunite with friends I've made, create new friendships, and move forward. In closing, I'd like to end this entry with what might be my final AIAS roll call - singing in front of 500 or more architecture students (unless I can afford and hopefully go to Grad school in the States with an AIAS chapter...or bring the AIAS to another Canadian University that I choose to go for my M.Arch). Cheers and Happy New Years from Uly-Spice!

To be (an Architect) or not to be, that is the question
Goodbye Undergrad! Thanks AIAS!