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The Renewal of Architectural Education

Meet the Panel

Each year Traditional Building holds a roundtable discussion on a topic of current and enduring interest to its audience of design professionals. For 2006, the topic is the state and future of architectural education. In May, 2004, the Council for European Urbanism organized a conference on "Teaching Architecture and Urbanism in the Age of Globalization." The conference, held in Viseu, Portugal, brought together architects, urbanists and educators from around the world and produced the "Viseu Declaration." One of the primary tasks of architecture, according to the signatories of the declaration, is "Facilitating civic engagement, social diversity and economic vitality while protecting local identity and ecosystems," and one of the great obstacles to this is "the fragmentation of specialized education in architecture and urbanism." The declaration states that architectural education should:

Recognize the unique role of urbanists and architects as form-givers, not as individual artists acting in isolation, but as professionals engaged with citizens in creating forms that satisfy human aspirations and needs.

We brought together a panel of eminent educators to discuss these themes, and many others. The panelists were: Victor Deupi, Paul Goldberger, Michael Lykoudis and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. The format for the roundtable was a moderated panel discussion, followed by a period of general discussion with an invited audience. We are indebted to The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, particularly Paul Gunther and Henrika Taylor, for providing the venue and invaluable support for the event.

—Michael Carey, Editorial Director

Michael Carey: To begin, I have a two part question: Every pedagogical program implicitly or explicitly intends to generate a certain kind of model student. What are the characteristics of the model student your program generates? And assuming that one cannot learn everything there is to know about architecture in school, what critical faculties do you think it is important that students develop in order to continue learning after graduation?

Victor Deupi: The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, in its 14 years, has engaged in a wide variety of teaching, from continuing education, which is the core curriculum of what it does now, to summer programs, travel programs and public lectures. The institute has been geared toward professional education, so in many ways the model student is the practitioner, is the one dedicated to the business of building and the activities associated with the practice of architecture – with the focus obviously being on Classicism and the relevance of Classicism today. Given the diversity of people in the program, the model student is one who can not only engage in the business of building, but can also draw, can draw beautifully, who should engage in urban design so they can think in the larger context. I suppose I'm also talking about critical faculties.

As we look to the future, and as we contemplate the possibility of having some sort of accredited graduate program, I would think that the model student might take on even a more generalist character, so far as covering areas of applied arts – engaging in a whole range of allied arts would be something that could very well emerge.

Paul Goldberger: We are not, I should say at the outset, a Classical program. I'm not even sure that we are a traditional program at Parsons – and by that I would mean a modern program, in that today one can use the word "traditional" to mean "modern." What characterizes our program most of all, and therefore I would hope characterizes our students, is a belief in architecture as social engagement – architecture not as a disconnected exercise in style, but as a proactive effort at social engagement. The aspect of our curriculum that I think most characterizes our program is something we call the "design workshop," where each summer, students in the architecture program design and then physically construct some facility for a non-profit social service organization in New York. This makes a couple of critical points. One is that architecture is, for them, intimately connected to the tectonics of real building, and not theory. Secondly, that architecture is connected to the realities of a real client, and again, not a theoretical or imaginary one. Overriding both of those is the sense that architecture is an act of social engagement, given that these projects are always done, as a matter of policy, for non-profit social service agencies. So the notion of architecture as an act of social responsibility is very important to us.

I would hope that our students are also characterized by a deep interest in, and sympathy for, all of the allied arts. For the last several years our architecture program has been operated under the same departmental umbrella as interior design, because we feel that those two disciplines have a great deal to say to each other, and that they too rarely do. In some ways, our attempt to close the wide breach between architecture and interior design is, in fact, although we don't think of it as an overt step toward Classicism, something that is much more compatible with the way architecture was taught, traditionally, before the Modern period. The entire architecture and interior design "combine" is itself within the context of a broader design school, with painting and sculpture studios right above, graphic designers half a block away, fashion designers and illustrators and photographers – so if we're doing anything right, we are encouraging architects to have as much sympathy for, and connection with, all of the other arts. I would say that the student we want at Parsons is a student with sympathy for, and interest in, a far wider range of arts, and architecture itself.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk: I understood your questions to be: "What is the character of the model student?" and "What critical faculties are the most important to develop?" The context for these at the University of Miami are both undergraduate and graduate, professional and post-professional degrees, to which students come of all ages, especially in the graduate program. We have students who come from many different walks of life, perhaps having succeeded already in business or medicine or in another area before undertaking the study of architecture. One of the reasons they come to study with us is our professed belief that architecture is a civic art. Within this context, the characteristic of the model student that's most important is a passion for some aspect of architecture, whether it be its aesthetic development, or the social needs that can be served by the built environment or some idea about a better way to exhibit environmental responsibility in building. Arriving with some innate drive to engage the built environment helps the student be successful.

In terms of the critical faculties that we hope to help the student develop, one is a love for lifelong learning – the idea that we are a stopping point, or a weigh station, in a lifelong process, and hopefully some tools for continued learning can be picked up with our faculty. We try to instill an understanding of what it is to reach for excellence, and a renewed commitment, or perhaps a first time commitment to never being satisfied with the work just completed, but to think of that work as part of the lifelong learning process. And finally, we hope students understand that their roles as change-agents, whether it's at the scale of one building at a time or in one's involvement with a regional plan.

Michael Lykoudis: At Notre Dame, we have a very strong undergraduate program and an emerging and growing graduate program, which have very distinct missions. The undergraduates come to Notre Dame for Notre Dame. Very few of them are equipped to understand the difference between a Classical program and a Deconstructivist program. I certainly had no idea at their age. We have a responsibility to those students to make sure that we appeal to their intellect – that they come to their own conclusions of their own free will. And when you're presenting a language of architecture to them, you're not just – as Paul mentioned earlier – presenting them with a style, but a way of viewing the world. It can't help but be ideological. But in the process, our model students, at the undergraduate level, embrace and perhaps even reject what we offer, maybe not at the same time. Some of our model students have become wonderful practitioners in the Classical arts, and many of you have seen them here in New York City. Many of them have also engaged firms that are Deconstructivist or Avant-Garde or Modernist, and have excelled, and have also been better precisely because of their Classical background.

So, at the undergraduate level, our model students are those who can critically take what we offer them and make it their own, and by making it their own, they transform it. I've never felt, even in the 15 years I've been teaching at Notre Dame, that our purpose, at the undergraduate level, is to produce Classical architects, plain and simple; it's to produce great citizens – people who see the social imperatives of the world and the architect's role, and will have transformed it, but come to those conclusions of their own free will.

At the graduate level, students are coming to us – knowing our expertise, knowing our interests – so that they can deepen their own understanding of the Classical language, of traditional Urbanism and of vernacular architecture. There are two different types of graduates students that come to us. The first I would call the "social activist," who has read James Howard Kunstler and is terrified of the future – that person is primarily interested in seeing Classicism as the highest expression of sustainable architecture. The other kind of student we get is the craftsperson, the one that is interested in engaging with a tactile familiarity the moldings, the fluting, and gets a tremendous amount of joy from the esoteric experience of the language. Those two kinds of people – and of course I'm generalizing – wonderfully complement each other, because invariably the altruistic tendencies of one influence the other and the perfectionist tendencies of the other also engage. It's actually a very porous, connective wall between the two types of people that we get.

It's interesting to have heard Paul speak about his program, because I could almost used those same words to describe Notre Dame.

Goldberger: It's fascinating, given that the curricula of our programs are very different, and yet the civic intent, in certain ways, is quite similar – and Lizz said not dissimilar things about her program as well.

Carey: Given what you've all said about social engagement, about architecture as civic art, where are all the architects coming from who view architectural design as a personal expression, to the exclusion of what you've been talking about?

Goldberger: One's temptation is to say they're coming from schools other than ours, but the truth is far more complex, because one must also ask where the client is coming from. I suspect that many of our students, when confronted with clients pushing them toward personal expression, are not going to say, "No, take this money that you were going to put toward this house in the Hamptons and put it toward some civic statement instead." It is partly social pressure from a broader society, partly other schools and partly the fact that while all of us, I think it's clear, believe profoundly in civic engagement as critical to the architect's education and ongoing identity, the reality is that's not all we do. We also teach other things, and once students are out in the world, they carry those other things in other directions.

Deupi: I think a great problem emerges before they get to school. Think about how many young high school kids are being raised in environments of suburban sprawl, where architecture is not presented to them as something that improves the quality of life – that architecture is, for the most part, absent. They don't see the profession of architecture as being civic activism, in the Albertian sense. They're raised to think that it is a kind of profession in the same way that everything that they see around them is a way of just moving forward or making money – architecture as not associated with any kind of deep social engagement. So I think the big problem emerges long before they get to architecture school, and in architecture school, even though we can engage them and try to provide a context within which they can think about these things, we need to begin much earlier.

Goldberger: I would absolutely underscore that. There is a general societal disinclination toward architecture as social engagement and toward the values of urbanism. These issues transcend all issues of style, and take us even farther away from that. Indeed, the return to traditional building that all of us embrace, on the one hand, has brought us, at least, small halting steps toward a greater urbanist sensibility, but it's also brought us McMansions and all sorts of things like that, that none of us admire, and that represent, or can represent, as fully realized a culture of selfishness and privacy as any Modernist extravaganza might. The issue is really why the culture is not able to focus more on communal and societal and civic aims in its architecture.

Carey: I find it interesting that you use an example of a house in the Hamptons – a private client pushing the architect toward personal expression. In that case, the client is often hyper-educated, in a certain sense, but in the public realm, this is not necessarily the case.

Plater-Zyberk: This is getting complicated. I have to think back to the question that spawned the last two comments, which was about personal expression. I think it was Michael Lykoudis who was saying that we have to look to the students or the young people themselves, and what they are seeking when they arrive at architectural education. We ask this question of our freshmen. On the first day of class they're all in one room together and we ask each one to tell their classmates why they want to study architecture. The answers range from the students who understand that there is an important social component or environmental component to the students who say things like, "Well, I was good at art and math, and this seems like a good combination" – those who are seeking some way to make good use of their talents and are still finding their way.

One has to recognize that there is in one part of architecture – because there are many kinds of architecture, many kinds of study, many kinds of practice – in one aspect of it, the drive of the artist, of an inner urge to create, which can be a very strong part of the choice made by the young person. With that drive you might not choose medicine or law; you might have to choose between painting and architecture; but I think it's clear how that choice is being made.

It gets more complex when you start talking about the expectations for creativity and innovation. The expectations of the client world – which, as Michael Carey points out, can be a very educated world – are often much influenced by academia, the ultimate taste-setter. Academia has its own expectations of the faculty, in terms of original work, innovative work as the requirements for tenure. These are often difficult to separate from standards applied to other disciplines, scientists and mathematicians engaged in pure research where the goal of originality or innovation can be quite abstract, and very often, separated from all of those other good goals that we spoke of. The role of the academic institution – writ large, academia as a whole – makes an interesting contribution to the first tentative step of the creative young person saying "I have this urge to be creative."

Lykoudis: The issue of separation of the artist from his or her world is central to this discussion. It's a cultural paradigm that we've been following for a very long time. The young architects come to colleges and schools of architecture with very poor information about what it is that architects do at any level. They think, "I'm good at math, I'm good at art, this is what I do." It's partly the guidance counselors that give them this, it's the high schools that feed them this, it's also the general media that feeds them this. But ultimately, it's also an easy packaging for the professional. It's harder to explain all the connectivity that goes on in architecture – it's the last great generalist degree. You study math and you apply it in the form of engineering; you study engineering and you apply it and connect it to the artistic and the creative endeavors; you study the artistic skills required to render your drawings; you study construction, philosophy and politics, and all of these things become part of a larger construct. Most students that I've known are completely flabbergasted and awed, in the most profound manner, when they discover these connections. This actually is what education should be – it should be about making connections. Generally speaking, the universities have been about breaking down the connections so that you can't make them; it becomes factual stockpiling and you get a binary, digital relationship with whatever it is that you're learning. Whereas the Classical, in the best meaning of the Classical – and I mean this in the broadest, cross-cultural sense – is about understanding the amazing web of philosophy, of art, of all the highest levels of humanity coming together in the creative process. When our students, who also come from suburban backgrounds, step into our classroom, and we show them these funny columns and these crazy moldings, they're not quite sure where it's all going. But it becomes alive for them when they go to Rome – Rome just makes that paradigm come alive. To me, that's the exciting part of this whole thing. If you can influence a few people to make those kinds of connections in an age where the private reigns supreme, where the ideals of early- and mid-20th-century civility have been smashed, and where deception is actually an ideal at some level – to see this resurgence of people that come together is really the best meaning of the word "citizenship."

Goldberger: I'm fascinated by the fact that we – despite going from question to question and moving around a certain amount – keep coming back to the idea of the architect as citizen, and the connections between architecture and civitas, which is really not so different from what you're saying about the ICA&CA. You're not just teaching craft, but teaching about the relationships between architecture and a civilized life. I'm delighted that we keep drifting back to that, because it shows that at the end of the day, that's what means the most to all of us and is what we most want to communicate to students. Whether we succeed at doing so or not is a whole other question for another discussion, but it is certainly what we most aspire to communicate – the connection between architecture and citizenship, so intimate that you can't really break the two apart. That's what you've been saying about Notre Dame certainly, and it's what I would like to be the case at Parsons as well.

Plater-Zyberk: Ditto for Miami.

Carey: I want to go back to the distinction between the education level of a private client and the education level of the public client. What we've been talking about is architecture as civic art, social engagement, etc., which exists at some level in the public realm. But the fact is – and I don't know whether you'll disagree with me on this – that the majority of the students from your institutions have careers building houses.

Lykoudis: I would take issue with that. I think that many of our students look for firms that don't do the big houses, and will take a 90-degree turn from that trajectory as soon as they're able to, because they associate a certain level of philosophical futility with that.

Plater-Zyberk: All they have to do is work with a few of those big-house clients, and they'll decide to do something else.

Lykoudis: They'll look for the firm that's doing Hope VI, they'll look for a firm that's taking military bases and converting them into affordable housing. Which actually brings me to another point, which is that the issues that we're talking about in terms of tradition today have expanded far beyond the parameters of discussion 15-20 years ago, when Architectural Digest had as one of its titles, "Reconstruction/Deconstruction: My Ideology is Better than Your Ideology" – that stuff is kind of passé now. The success of these firms that have engaged the public realm speaks for itself. There's a long way to go – I'm not suggesting that the world has changed and is a wonderful place and everyone loves each other – but the momentum has clearly shifted, and the students who have taken this and made it their own are doing very well with it, and they're pushing that agenda.

Plater-Zyberk: Now, if you're going to make some kind of bifurcation in the clientele to understand the different directions that students might take, I would make distinction in a different way. There are client-patrons, on the one hand: these might be of the private sector, or they might be public sector or not-for-profits, with current-day projects like a museum, for example, or a university building. On the other hand, you have the client-consumer who accounts for probably 95% of the built world, or 95% of the construction that takes place. There used to be an enormous gap, which has been somewhat bridged in recent years, between those two client types. You came out of school and had to decide whether you were going to starve and work with an architect who worked with patrons, or whether you would immediately start feeding a family and join the Sports Authority to be their commercial development architect. I think there are a lot more choices now, with a new middle ground working without patronage, in which budgets are critical and the users are consumers you never meet. In housing, for instance, there is a more educated clientele, or perhaps a more sophisticated regulatory framework, asking for intelligence and character to drive the market instead of being driven by the market. It's the arena of practice in which 95% of the building that occurs presents the greatest challenge for academia. The university's education must give the students the ability to set their standards high enough to invite patronage, while inviting them to take on the challenge of the budget and of the banality of the market as well.

Deupi: I don't think anyone ever criticized [Antonio da] Sangallo for engaging in high-end residential when he designed the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. I think Alberti's treatise says that there is nothing more virtuous that one can do than build a noble home for one's family. The problem is not so much addressing high-end residential, but making high-end residential a noble part of city building. Maybe that's been lost in the same way that the New Urbanists don't shy away from building greenfield developments, insofar as to say there's a problem with greenfield developments and it has to be improved, and there have to be new ways of building new towns.

Lykoudis: I think it's an important point. The high-end residential for our culture is the arena in which the Classical was allowed to excel. Without the clients and the patrons who supported the new Classical architects, much of the institutional work, much of the vernacular work and the New Urbanist work wouldn't have been as good. So there's this connectivity between all of the different realms that we engage in. I remember one of my colleagues once deriding New Urbanism, saying it set the standard very low for architecture, and I said, "Look, that's your job. If you don't think the standards are good, make them higher. Their job is to make the standards for urbanism very high, and you're not really addressing that in your work." The point is that there is a balance, that we are all a part of this large city, or whatever it is, this city of humanity, and we bring to it the gravitational pull of our expertise and our ideas, and we're all needed. So we need the people doing the high-end residences, we need the people doing the Hope VI and we need the people doing institutional work and other things.

Goldberger: I agree very much. I would also say that although the phrase "placemaking" has now become rather trite in the language, the very fact that it has become a cliché indicates the extent to which the values underlying that phrase have, in fact, been internalized within our culture today – whereas they would not have been understood at all a generation or more ago. Today, "placemaking" is something of meaning, hopefully at a more sophisticated level than the phrase itself suggests.

Carey: I'd like now to take some questions from the floor.

Clem Labine: I would like to go from the macro, civitas end of architectural education to the micro end. I've heard many principals of architectural firms complain bitterly that the graduates of "brand-x" programs don't know beans about how a building is put together, how it's detailed – in other words, have very little practical knowledge. Is that a valid criticism of architectural education? If so, how do your programs address that issue as compared to "brand-x" programs?

Lykoudis: I teach building technology, when I can, at Notre Dame. One of the big problems with the building technology curricula has been its disconnection from the design process. You have the design studio and then you have building technology. Building technology gives you the run of the graphic standards books, which are all so disemboweled, and virtually no connection is ever really made in how you would approach design processes. One of the biggest issues is how you inculcate the process of assembly into the design process. One of the great things about Classicism is that it's sort of a natural fit, because the language itself is a representation of construction. The students, even if they don't fully appreciate all the proper detailing, still depart with a sense of the principles – that certain things fit on top of other things and in between others. Just knowing that has made our graduates quite appealing to a variety of different firms.

Goldberger: It's unquestionably true that the emphasis on theory, particularly in the last generation, has pulled many schools, and therefore their students, away from tectonics and away from the realities of building and technology – not in the sense of new technology, but in the sense of structure, that it's essential to know. That's one of the motivations behind our design workshop, where students physically build something over the course of the summer. All that being said, however, I think it's also true that there are certain things that you only learn and only truly understand when you are doing them within the context of what, for lack of a better term, I'll call "real life."

I've had a career in journalism as well as one in education and architecture, and I certainly know that for all I studied about writing and newspapers and journalism, I learned more after I walked into the door of The New York Times and started having to produce things then I could have ever learned in any educational environment. While the complaints that students are not coming to firms as fully cognizant of these issues have some merit, I think it also behooves us to remember that some of these people complaining have forgotten how much they themselves learned after their careers began, rather than in school, no matter what kind of program they were in.

Plater-Zyberk: Several years ago, the school selected two focus groups, groups of professionals, to tell us what they thought we should be doing as educators. For some reason, in the morning we had the older architects and in the afternoon we had the younger architects. The young people said more or less what the drift of this conversation has been. What they really needed, to have made the transition from school to practice more comfortably, was more technical information and experience – essentially the nuts and bolts of architecture, which they hadn't gotten quite enough of in school. The older folks said that the most important thing to do was help students develop good judgment and good communication skills – writing and speech. I was struck by how evidently different the needs are at different times during one's professional life.

In a sense, I think you are addressing both of those if the education encourages students to reach out, as I said earlier, for lifelong learning – not just waiting for the next course to come along to teach them the working drawing details, but to start looking at the built details around them and incorporating them into their own drawings simultaneously while focusing on faculty driven studio learning. In every group of young people, you'll find those who are waiting to be told what to do next, and those who reach out and say, "I'm so excited about what I'm learning that I just want to learn everything about it." These will own their own copies of Graphic Standards, as well as take Vincent Scully's history course. If you can help people develop that kind of confident enthusiasm about their own learning, then I think you've done more than half the job.

Lykoudis: At a lot of programs, I think, the faculty does not value that kind of integrity that goes into the making of a building. So often, architectural education is being taught as a disconnected series of elements – therefore Deconstruction, right? But you have to also convey to the students that you value the integrative and connective process of lifelong learning. Then those students, as graduates, are well on their way to doing it.

Deupi: I'd like to add a twist to this thesis of lifelong learning – that there are things that you learn in school and there are things that you learn in the profession – by suggesting that there are things that you don't learn in the profession that require you to continue your own self-fulfillment. We find that we have very successful architects who come and engage with our courses because they've reached the point in their careers where they want to ask some of the more profound questions. Ironically, people who have achieved a level of professional success and stability still feel the need to engage with lifelong learning, so it happens both at the university level and also at the professional level – this kind of self criticism that is essential.

Christine Franck: I'd like to go back to the discussion about architect as citizen. It was interesting because in the discussion, it seemed that if one was engaging specifically in public, or institutional, projects, that was okay, and that by default, then engaging in private work, such as the big house, was not okay, but somehow a selfish or non-citizen act. If we consider that most schools of architecture today have abdicated house design, particularly single-family house design, to the homebuilding industry – in other words, we don't really consider it the purview of the architect anymore because most of the houses today aren't designed by architects – if you combine those two points of view, it seems that we end up with the idea that housing isn't contributing to the public realm. I would posit that every building that is built, whether a private home or a public building, ultimately is a public act, so that no matter what decisions you make, whether doing private or public work, you're still engaging in the social responsibility of being an architect.

Carey: I was trying to make the distinction between a private client and a patron, or a public client. There was no judgment on work on private houses.

Lykoudis: Housing, of course, is what defines the public realm. What's the fabric of the city? It's housing. We shouldn't blur issues – the claim that private building is un-civic or opposed to civic, I don't think was intended. All we were saying was that the tradition has no longer just been relegated to just one section of the building process and industry – that it has achieved a complexity and an influence and an involvement in all corners of construction and the environment.

Goldberger: I would very much agree with that. Certainly I did not intend to suggest that the private house, or any initiative for a private client, was ipso facto absent social responsibility or relevance to the public realm. It can indeed have those things, and often does. I would take issue with the suggestion – at least from what I inferred from your comment – that the curtailment of teaching residential design is a de facto abandonment of an area of private house design that created a vacuum that has been filled by the homebuilding industry. I don't think that's the case. The homebuilding industry is overwhelmingly potent and powerful, absolutely, but I don't think it grew up because architects withdrew. I would put it almost the other way around. If architects are playing a lesser role, it's because they were driven out by the enormous power of this massive industry and forced to retreat into only private houses for the very rich, because nobody else can afford an architect – the nature of the economics makes it very difficult. Not literally nobody else, but, in fact, rare is the middle-class family – seeking an architect to design a private home – who can pull it off.

Plater-Zyberk: Paul, here I would take issue with you. I don't think it is the power of the industry that drove the architects out. I think there was a cultural misfit between what architects were being taught in school as acceptable engagements and what the means of production required – not only the terms of pricing, the willingness to think of housing as a kit of parts rather than a special creation, but also in terms of the cultural issues of style. Some might remember the exhibit by the Venturi's at the Renwick Gallery, which poked fun at the cultural proclivities of the American homebuyer – ltural baggage of various engagements with tradition. While the exhibit exposed the revalence of kitsch and cliché, it also exposed very clearly, that cultural gap. Our age was supposed to bring good design to the public, to the masses; instead, we developed this picture of what was an appropriate engagement for us well-educated architects as distinct from the everyday designs that people wanted to live with. I think we're still dealing with that.

Goldberger: I don't disagree, and I did not mean to suggest it was a simple case of the industry's power driving away architects either. I think your clarification is very important.

Plater-Zyberk: If I could bring us back to that word "citizenship." It made me think of something else with regard to schools that I think is important. That is, the other aspect of citizenship that is related to personal behavior – good citizenship as a colleague, the very basic issues of honesty, generosity and other virtues, and how one comports oneself as a professional. I think that may be something we should be attending to a little bit more in terms of the way faculty set an example for students. The competitive nature of the profession is often the reason given for why we are excluded from civic decisions – because architects argue about getting the job. Where does that come from? Does that not emerge, to some degree, from the way faculty interact – competing for intellectual priority, or competing for students in schools. Maybe we should be thinking a little bit more about how we set the example for personal citizenship through our professional comportment in academia.

Nina Rappaport: Have any of you considered how to do away with the jury system, which also feeds into the whole star-architect ideology and the students competing against each other? And how have some of you addressed that as an issue or worked more to create team projects with students? Is there an alternative? In a way, architecture just feeds on itself in terms of the education process and very few schools seem to break from that tradition.

Carey: All right, who's going to dismantle the jury system?

Plater-Zyberk: I wouldn't dismantle it, but I would add a few players to the jury, because as soon as you have people from the community, or a developer or a museum director for whom you're designing the museum, seated on the jury, the tenor of that discussion changes. It is a little bit more like real life, in terms of the students having not only to present their ideas clearly, but also having to participate more in that discussion.

Goldberger: I see an increasing tendency to do what Lizz is describing, in many schools, as often as possible.

Lykoudis: The jury system can be and has been abused for a very long time, but if done properly, can also parallel the experiences we have as professionals. We do have to make the presentation to the board of directors, and they ask questions that are really tough. If, however, there is a jury just of faculty and they are only interested in the theoretical purity, if you will, and not really addressing the broader issues of the project, then, of course, it's flawed. But part of the process of breaking down this "starchitect" model can be accomplished, in part, by giving collaborative projects in school, and we do that. Our students in Rome are invited by a city, which pays their expenses to go. The city officials, business leaders and citizens offer what issues they have about their town and districts, and students work on those in a collaborative effort. When they come back to the States, we do similar projects called regional studios. Recently we went to St. Augustine and Las Vegas – New Mexico, not the other Las Vegas. The students flourish in those environments.

Franck: I would like to offer an observation of the ICA&CA's programs. As some of you know, we have a program that reaches out to residential designers, meaning the American Institute of Building Design. These are not architects. They have, by and large, never been to architecture school, although some of them have. The difference in the ego of these people versus architects is extreme. They come, they give their work, and they say, "What do I do to make it better?" I'm beginning to think, through this discussion, that it's not the jury system so much as the way that architecture school treats the architecture and the design act as this singularly creative process versus the way these homebuilders see it – as a product that they do to get their things built to make a house to sell, end of story.

Goldberger: To respond to a market.

Franck: That might be part of the difference.

Goldberger: I think it's also worth remembering that, to some extent, those who go to architecture school sort of self select before, so some of these traits are not so much developed by the architecture school as those who have those traits choose to attend architecture school rather than to do something else.

We've talked so much about citizenship today, but a word we have not used very much is "marketplace." Maybe we've made a false division between those who are positive citizens and eager to see architecture as a civic act and those who are not. Maybe another way to divide the population is by those who are aware of, and responsive to, market demands within the realm of building and those who are suspicious of the market as, in some way, inconsistent with, or contradictory to, the higher calling of architecture. In fact, one of the things that the ICA&CA has certainly made clear through its programs is that the marketplace and the higher aspirations of architecture are not automatically inconsistent with one another.

Plater-Zyberk: This is really stepping into an interesting realm of political life, because that kind of mediation between the elite and the popular is, in a sense, what every elected person has to deal with. Also, this is a very important dichotomy in the arts – and here I put architecture in the realm of the arts. We can look at many periods of history where architecture was an elite production but still had very much of a popular appreciation. That's still the challenge of our time, and in particular, perhaps hardest met in academia, in which you are trained to be elite, or to aim for the highest ambitions. At the same time, you want the communication to be as popular as possible, to bring that intellectual component to the marketplace.

Paul Gunther: What is the view of the student of today, compared to the student of 10 or 20 years ago? At the ICA&CA we have our little world, and perhaps a distorted view of the world. Does the student at Parsons view Modernism as part of tradition? Do they view it all as a bag of old solutions that can be plucked? Are they still hostile to Classicism?

Goldberger: It's a very fair question to raise, and it's a difficult one to answer in simple terms, because I don't think we can generalize about students quite as much as we would wish to come up with an easy answer. This is particularly true at a school like Parsons, which is in the middle of a larger design school, which is, in turn, in the middle of a medium-sized university in the middle of New York City – so there are a lot of forces at play. Because we are part of The New School, which has a longstanding tradition of social progressivism, and a certain early tradition of being a patron of Modernism, in a certain way, there is a sort of implicit bias toward Modernism that is not institutionalized or formalized or uniformly held, but nonetheless exists.

Gunther: Do they recognize Modernism as old?

Goldberger: The smart ones do. However, there are those who see it as old, but lean toward those architects who are trying to renew Modernism rather than depart from it. There is also a varying degree of sympathy for traditional architecture within our student body. I regret that we do not do enough to respond to the attitude of Notre Dame, in a way, not by building our program entirely around Classicism, but I'm thinking back to your comment about the extent to which a Classical education can be a building block toward a lot of other things. I don't think we do quite as much in terms of traditional skills as we should.

Plater-Zyberk: I think, Paul, that if you take a look around the country and look at the overwhelming majority of the work that's being done in schools, there's very definitely and clearly a faculty bias against any principle or technique pre-dating the 20th century, and I think you just have to admit it as such. There are some places where the idea of tradition, or acknowledge of anything prior to the 20th century just doesn't exist – it's immoral to even discuss it or to think that one might engage it again. Even the preservationists, to a large degree, believe that reconstruction is somehow morally wrong and politically incorrect. So there is, in academia, a tremendous bias, which does not acknowledge the full range of the history of the profession and what we have to build on. If fact, most schools don't even teach a survey of architectural history – they'll teach you only bits and pieces of it.

So there's no question that there's not a balanced picture, and I don't know why people fear the balance so much. We're living in a time in which the aesthetics of Modernism are clearly a part of modern culture in an everyday way, from the most common consumer goods to even production housing at this point. I don't understand why we have such a fear of our past that we want to cut ourselves off from it. We are, after all, a profession, which, by definition, builds on prior experience. Invention is certainly one of our values, but as a profession, we have a responsibility to bring our history along as well.

Goldberger: The issue is made even nuanced and complex by the fact that today Modernism is itself a historical style. Plater-Zyberk: That should be explanation enough to get over this. We spoke earlier of the well-educated client – it's amazing how much this bias has taken hold of the supposedly educated client, who believes that it's absolutely incorrect to consider reconstructing or continuing a tradition. This is where the whole idea of placemaking should become part of this discussion, because style is a great place-maker and can contribute to a sense of place in very unique ways that we should not fear, but revel in.  

 

 

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