April 10, 2013

More to the world outside of Architecture.

I have usually described to friends and family that architecture school is pretty much the continuation of high school – in a sense that you would be exposed to a broad range of courses covering different subjects and exposing you to different schools of thinking. For instance, health science students would be focused more on courses like chemistry, psychology, and sociology. Business Students would be taking  courses from accounting to marketing. Engineers would focus on physics and calculus. As a holistic individual, I've always wanted to learn about different things and I felt architecture school gave me that mixed bag of subjects from humanities to sciences to the arts. After graduating, I'm interested in learning things outside of Architecture...for sanity's sake.

I always valued the architectural education system;  it exposed me to a broad range of courses from the arts, humanities to the sciences. From theory, to studio, to history, and structures (among others) architecture school gave us the ability to look at issues from different perspectives and analyze problems with different thinking caps to solve these issues in a holistic level.

An article published on Design Intelligence earlier this year, The Case for General Education by Andrea S Rutledge, inspired me to write about the importance of learning outside of architecture. You do not want to slack in your general electives. Your liberal courses outside of the core architectural education are greatly important. As an individual, I always found myself fascinated in wanting to learn outside of the realms of architecture as an undergrad student. An implied ideology passed and rooted in a lot of us students was that Architecture is everything and architecture is everywhere! As soon as you get out of school, the world shifts. Not everyone agrees with an architectural-deterministic worldview. Somehow I feel like this ideology is dangerous because it creates a skewed character of our profession to the public as coming off as arrogant and isolating. I was never the person that wanted to pick the “bird courses” for my general education electives in university. I opted even to take spring courses so that I can be involved in reading-intensive courses like Politics and Psychology - subjects outside of the field that I was interested and engaged in. I was the student that enjoyed making small talk with students outside of architecture in my electives, and when going to non-architectural university events.

Architecture school is a rigourous program, and from my experience, I’ve seen architecture students that would opt to unite with fellow architecture students to take the liberal courses together. Liberal courses would be the first lamb to be slaughtered when crap hits the fan. The amount of work that architecture school creates is a systemic pattern of apathy towards general education.  The problem with this is that we get disengaged with the world and society we have to interact and respond to thoughtfully.

I’m not against general education to compliment an architectural education; I’m totally in support of it. From time to time after my degree, I question if I made the right educational career path. I could’ve went to a school for a humanities and social science program and dive in to architecture for a 3.5 M.Arch(I) Program, or the option I took, which was the  Pre-Professional Undergrad Architectural Education, with a 2 year M.Arch (II) Program. Both options have their good and bad, one prepares you for practice more than the other. One is more research and conceptual than the other. At the end of the day you have to keep your knowledge and worldview grounded. There is more to life than just architecture. There is a world outside of architecture.



  1. Hi there! Thank you for the nod. I am glad to know the article gave you some food for thought. ~Andrea Rutledge

    1. Hi Andrea, I really enjoyed the article when it came out. I've been meaning to do a response post for it.