February 17, 2014

Getting it Right VS. Getting it Done (Part I)

For any architecture student, we get that new studio project brief with renewed delight and joy. After feeling crappy from yesterday's design review, your optimism (and naivety) is renewed with the new project. With a new project, we hope to NOT pull any All-Nighters and/or (2) ensure a project that is worthy of praise come presentations.

Ideally, We would like to finish a project with ease getting the bulk of the work out of the way early and chill near its deadline. If you are not a keener, you at least want to work consistently, building up towards completing a project. 

But let's be honest, human as we are, it is quite the opposite for architecture students when the work piles up at the end and the rest of life comes in the way...  

It is never a cake walk to finishing a studio project. It is more like a gauntlet - with unknown obstacles. Each new studio assignment means that the bar is risen. The expectation and skill level increases exponentially. It never gets easier. You just get used to always aspiring for more and working your butt off. You can never feel comfortable in a design project because the process is never linear. Any architecture design process has all these unanticipated tangents that can change the direction and time you needed to complete your project (e.g. not coming up with the "big idea" on time, realizing new constraints, professor telling you to change the design, and e.t.c.)

There is also the issue of time management. Unfortunately the All-Nighter is a custom engrained in the tradition in Architecture Schools. Those long-nights of working till deadline is commonly accepted to this very day. Numerous all-nighters in studio are equated to being tough and being great designers. Behind it all, it just reveals our inability to strategize our plan of action nor manage our time well. (I'm guilty of this as well). 

There are repercussions when one pulls many late nights or All-Nighters as your health is compromised and your productivity drops. The physical and mental ability to push a project to completion decreases as one lacks the energy and strength to work diligently with clarity. Whatever hours you skip on sleeping will weigh you down each and every hour before submission. 

When I struggled with getting tasks done in college, my school counselor told me to look at working any assignment in two modes - (1) getting it right & (2) getting it done. Switching to damage control for a studio project is to realize that there is a phase of getting it right vs. getting it done. When you near the deadline, hopefully sometime early in the second half of a project timeline, your focus should shift from getting it right to getting it done. That switch means concluding your design to focus on production, with minor fine-tuning along the way. It has to do with just being content with how far you have taken the design project and finishing the project deliverable to get the best mark you can within your own time constraints. 

Sometimes you might run into those students that are working past the deadline or are presenting work that looks rushed. It is likely that the shift of getting it right to getting it done came too late. This is one way to analyze the design process by recognizing that all your tasks will have to be working from getting your design right to just getting the project submission requirements done. Hope this will help you become strategic in your future looming deadlines in studio.

Regards (and good luck!),
The Underdog Architecture Student


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