March 14, 2013

The Art of the Design Review - PART II

So the tables have turned for me. I went back to my architecture school. Not as a student, but this time as a guest critic for interim studio presentations. It was a bit new to me, because this is the first time I have been asked to be part of the jury studio presentations.

I have a greater appreciation for the critiques and even the comments I have received as a student in design reviews and desk crits throughout my educational career and I can see why it is important from the vantage point of the critic. I also talked to my fellow architecture alumni/classmates who were jurors  and we noticed some issues that many young architecture students deal with when they present their projects.

Especially when it comes to presenting your studio work in front of guest critics, architects, and professionals who would see your work for the first time - here are some errors to avoid during the studio review:

Drawing conventions, craft in models – Must be second-nature

You have to understand the basics of composing your drawings, and utilizing the hierarchy of line weights and hatching to convey depth and form. Your model should relate well to your drawings at the right or required detail. Laziness in drafting, making an integral model is no excuse! 
Orthographic, 3D Drawings, Model making - This is our language as designers. Just like English, you must have a sophisticated and refined way of speaking at a university level. Slacking and getting conventions wrong is like crappy slang – it looks a bit juvenile. 
As a guest critic – I found that it is much more difficult to understand one’s intent when your drawings are not drawn properly or a model looks lacklustre. Crappy drawings and a crappy model can eclipse your design intent and credibility.

Go Beyond the Assignment Brief!

Your design brief just shows the bare minimum of what drawings to hand in.You must convey your design intentions by ALL means necessary. Even if your design and/or concept is complex - the extra drawings, diagrams, images, renderings, and process work can help the jury understand where you are going and how you are developing your design.

The design jury is determining if what you say aligns with what you did.

What you say is being compared to what you visually present on your sheets, slides, and even your models if they do not correlate well, it’s a good sign that you have not finished the job in showing us your design intent. 
If you are apologetic, unsure, expounding more on what you would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done with your drawings and design It’s ultimately a sign you did not present your work properly or have not conveyed your design.

A good studio presentation is like a well-written essay.

Have you even wondered why TED talks sound great and inspirational? A great presentation will have a beginning, middle, end. Talks are structured in a way that tells a narrative with fluidity and accessibility to your audience. There is a logic and building up of points to defend your argument. They pose a problem and present the solution and the importance of that solution.

Studio presentations are no different - talking in broader terms, moving into detail, and finish off presenting the project in broader terms. Show us the narrative of your approach to the design solution.  I have seen projects talking about technical issues like parking and showing their basement parking, without orienting or introducing the audience to site, context, and concept. For a guest critic, it's frustrating trying to figure out the project without background information. When your order your sheets/slides for presentation...keep at the back of your mind of how will you present your idea to the Jury.
So here you have it. These are some of the issues I noticed from young architecture students who present their work - from being a guest critic. Hope this gives you some help on your future design presentations. Cheers.

Dealing with studio and designing for studio...dealing with time constraints...some good blogs to check out:
Design Studio: Top 10 Things You Should Know by Bob Borson from Life of an Architect
10 Tips to Conquer Procrastination by Mark LePage from Entrepreneur Architect
10 things you dont get taught in Architecture School by Linda Bennett from Archi-Ninja

The Art of the Design Review
Process! Process! Process!
Chopped vs. Charette: Culinary Arts and Architecture
Architecture Student Book Roundup: Building Technology Primer

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