Playing Games


University of Queensland architecture students, c.1960.

Architectural education differs from other creative fields: art students paint, ceramics students throw pots, film students film, but architecture students can’t build, they can only design. Nevertheless, ever since the Ecole des Beaux-Arts instituted the atelier system, the design studio has dominated architectural teaching. Never mind that this simulation of practice is actually very limited: there is no client, sometimes not even a site, programs are simplified, cost is rarely discussed, and construction is accorded a back seat. Moreover, design juries are generally composed exclusively of architects, rarely are engineers, developers, or lay people included. Little wonder that architects become accustomed to treating design as if it could be isolated from the outside world.

3 Responses to Playing Games

  • Composed almost of “exclusively of architects” AND architecture professors.

    • Witold says:

      My own professors were all practicing architects–or at least had been, even Peter Collins, who taught history, had worked for Perret. But I take your point.

  • Bob Schulz says:

    When I was in architectural school I can remember being frustrated by the disconnect from the actual world of building structures I had known as an architect, and of course I struggled with continuing sleep deprivation, but mostly I just did as was expected to get the diploma.

    Now that I have 25 years of experience in the field, as I watch my daughter going through architectural school all the old routines make me seriously angry. All constraints are optional, budget is never discussed, clients, engineers, and all other outsiders opinions are all irrelevant next to the architectural contemporary design enforcement guild, and there is an utter contempt for the value of a student’s (and future architect) time.

    It is no accident that architecture is profession with lower pay scales and salaries than other professions with comparable educational and licensing requirements, We’ve designed an educational system to be contemptuous not only of our clients needs and goals, but of the value of our own time to accomplish our work.

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