Did anything actually CHANGE?

EDIT: I realized that 80% of this article was missing. Click ‘Read more’ for the rest. Please excuse this overdue post on the events during Accreditation.  As Carleton Architecture is an accredited architecture school, the accreditation process occurs every 7 years. This year our dear students and profs worked day and night to set up showcases of student work for the accreditation board to visit.  Aside from the awesome chance to see work from our peers that make the school look good, accreditation gave the students a chance to have their voices heard in hopes that something could be done to change the school.

On Tuesday, March 16th 2011, Student representatives of the Azrieli School of Architecture met up with the accreditation board of architecture schools to have their voices heard.  It was a sunny morning and after nights of exhausting discussions and meetings, AASA and a few other active students joined to proclaim their needs for the school.

Let me begin by saying that we love Building 22.  The accreditation board really loved it as well.  One man stated that it was now on his list of top 10 buildings.  But aside from thermal bridging, our building isn’t something that we really want to complain about.  It’s really the pedagogy that’s an issue.  Although we love what we’re learning in studio, we do feel that the curriculum needs an update.

As much as we love the cold building we call home, we have to be real here: The Azrieli School of Architecture is stuck in the past.  We are moving too slowly.  We are stuck using old technology and not fully embracing what is currently being offered today.  Although we greatly understand the value of hand drawing and traditions, – it is clear that we really apply what we have learned in our projects – we come to the big question: Is tradition moving us forward?

Let’s compare to a school that is radically changing.  When one visits the grad studio in the Azrieli Pavilion, there is a something new happening.  The elevator doors open and you feel like you’re in a totally different place.  There are tons of beautiful projects laid out and ready for you to discover.  Wonderful experiments, drawings, models and work from our very own first years are on display.  There is pride in this place.  There is life.  All of this happened in a matter of a year and a half when the school took hold of that space.

Is that same level of change happening in our undergrad program?

Before our meeting on Tuesday, AASA met up with our director Sheryl Boyle to go over the minutes we were going to address to the accreditation team.  We asked her where the direction of the school was going as many of us were just confused.  With all of these new streams and majors popping up, what is the future of Carleton Architecture going to focus on?  And how is it going to help us in the industry?

Sheryl gladly showed up a chart of how the program would be structured.  In first year, students would be admitted to a ‘general’ architecture program.  After this year, you would declare your major in Design, Sustainability and Conservation, Urbanism or Philosophy and Criticism.  These new streams anticipate and lead up to the new and developing M. Arch in Conservation, Ph.D and Post-Professional Master’s programs.

And thus, the undergrad program is changing.  But is this change helping us?  Our issue is that the undergrad program is not getting the attention it deserves.  How will all of these new master’s programs run successfully if B.A.S. students don’t even want to come back to Carleton for their M. Arch?

Of course, it is our responsibility as students to voice our opinions to shape our vision of the school.  Perhaps we can start to integrate the computer with our studio projects better.  Maybe we need to be the ones to start new traditions for the school – like Shitty One Minute Movies – that will introduce more contemporary methods of communication to students.  Maybe we can be the ones to bring and attract strong faculty members into our school.  I encourage everyone to be more critical about what is happening around you.  Building 22 is a bubble, and it’s easy to forget that there are greater things happening in the world.  Architects are meant to make connections – either between materials, other buildings, or between people – so we have to be more engaged with our context.

And so, the discussion will always continue:

What do you want to change about our school?

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3 responses to “Did anything actually CHANGE?

  1. The conservation and sustainability stream is really good and really important to the future of our school and our designs. It is new and exciting and still in need of improvement. I am excited to see this stream grow and I believe that it will become a major focus both in and after school. There is much demand for this kind of knowledge and it is great that Carleton is one of the first in the continent to offer such a great program.

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