Monthly Archives: March 2020

from 101 things i learned in architecture school

Being process-oriented, not product driven, is the most important and difficult skill for a designer to develop.

1 seeking to understand a design problem before chasing after solutions;
2 not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems;
3 removing yourself from prideful investment in your projects and being slow to fall in love with your ideas;
4 making design investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a design problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next);
5 making design decisions conditionally—that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution;
6 knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions;
7 accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do; 8 working fluidly between concept-scale and detail-scale to see how each informs the other;
9 always asking “What if . . . ?” regardless of how satisfied you are with your solution.

The most effective, most creative problem solvers engage in a process of metathinking, or “thinking about the thinking.” Meta-thinking means that you are aware of how you are thinking as you are doing the thinking. Meta-thinkers engage in continual internal dialogue of testing, stretching, criticizing, and redirecting their thought processes.

Three levels of knowing:
SIMPLICITY is the world view of the child or uninformed adult, fully engaged in his own experience and happily unaware of what lies beneath the surface of immediate reality.
COMPLEXITY characterizes the ordinary adult world view. It is characterized by an awareness of complex systems in nature and society but an inability to discern clarifying patterns and connections.
INFORMED SIMPLICITY is an enlightened view of reality. It is founded upon an ability to discern or create clarifying patterns within complex mixtures. Pattern recognition is a crucial skill for an architect, who must create a highly ordered building amid many competing and frequently nebulous design considerations

If you can’t explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms that she understands, you don’t know your subject well enough. Some architects, instructors, and students use overly complex (and often meaningless!) language in an attempt to gain recognition and respect. You might have to let some of them get away with it, but don’t imitate them. Professionals who know their subject area well know how to communicate their knowledge to others in everyday language.

All design endeavors express the zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is a German word meaning, roughly, the spirit of an age. The zeitgeist is the prevailing ethos or sensibility of an era, the general mood of its people, the tenor of public discourse, the fl avor of daily life, the intellectual inclinations and biases that underlie human endeavor. Because of the zeitgeist, parallel (although not identical) trends tend to occur in literature, religion, science, architecture, art, and other creative enterprises. It is impossible to rigidly defi ne the eras of human history; however, we can summarize the primary intellectual trends in the West as follows:
• ANCIENT ERA: a tendency to accept myth-based truths;
• CLASSICAL (GREEK) ERA: a valuing of order, rationality, and democracy; • MEDIEVAL ERA: a dominance of the truths of organized religion; • RENAISSANCE: holistic embracings of science and art;
• MODERN ERA: a favoring of truths revealed by the scientific method; • POSTMODERN (CURRENT) ERA: an inclination to hold that truth is relative or impossible to know.

Tzu. Art of War

  • He wins his battles by making no mistakes.
    Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
  • Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.
  • So, in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak
  • Now a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning; by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp.A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods.
  • Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:–this is the art of retaining self-possession.
  • To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished:–this is the art of husbanding one’s strength.
  • To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array:–this is the art of studying circumstances.