Architecture school regularly unleashes a well of emotions, eliciting within its students layers of anguish, fear and delirium to surprise and happiness when a complimentary remark lands upon a grateful student. Studying architecture, like any other demanding professional degree, is a test of mental and physical resilience, requiring a willingness to go beyond comfort zones.
Nothing, however, competes with a night before an impending final review. The anticipation of the final crit intensifies these emotions to levels unexplainable to those lucky enough to have avoided this path in life. Reminiscing about those stressful nights, here are some of the emotional states architecture students the world over are sure to have experienced at one point or another. Reflect on these and be comforted by the thought that, however bad it gets, you are not alone!
The denial stage captures the false bravado too many architecture students exhibit when talking about completing projects. Characterizing this stage are effusive expressions like “Everything is under control, I only have five drawings to do and there are like 12 hours left!” Until it’s six hours later, with just one completed drawing … what’s that saying? “Yeah, I’m screwed.”
By this stage, architecture students are priming for a fit, blaming everyone else but themselves for their predicament. “Why does so-and-so teacher give us so much darn work, doesn’t she know we have studio?” The blame shifts to studio professors and anyone else in the path of collateral damage, not realizing that, in reality, the blame may well fall on their own poor time management.
With the dust beginning to settle on the pity party, it becomes clear that we really should have worked more consistently and effectively at the project inception. Typical internal dialog is “Man, I really should have built this model a week ago … surely would be in a better place by now.” The student begins to settle while mumbling “I guess I am not sleeping tonight.”
Bargaining is an early onset for the depression stage; here, architecture students begin an internal battle with forces of melancholy, usually setting in around 1 a.m. It is not uncommon to feel discouraged and wracking one’s brain, wondering: “Why on earth am I in this program and in studio at this time struggling to finish work and sleep? Maybe I should have switched to another degree earlier?”
Students in North Carolina State University making models at 2 a.m.; photo courtesy of Nick Purdy; via NCSU
At this stage, students can either let their minds run wild, adding greater fuel to their melancholies, or push through to salvage the project. Frustrated with themselves and the situation at hand, students’ stress levels increase, causing heavy breathing, compromised mental clarity and general agitation with their work, saying: “This doesn’t even look good!” or “That makes no sense!”
For those persistent architecture students, this stage represents a breakthrough, collecting themselves to focus on the work as they realize that this review represents a significant step to finally being done with school. By ignoring those negative emotions, mental clarity and confidence increases, helping to neutralize self-criticism and get the project as complete and clear as possible within the deadline limits.
Final reviews at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London; via UNIT-15 Archive 2014/15
Following closely on the heels of “testing” is the acceptance stage, where students are either “fully-in” or “checked-out.” The latter is not an ideal position as it signifies a failure to settle one’s emotions and produce the necessary work … We all know how that goes down at the review itself. The “fully-in” student, while he/she may not have crafted to perfection their strategy, now has at least some tangible, visual material for the guest critics to discuss and is much more likely to say after, “Well, that wasn’t so bad … time for a drink and a heck of a nap, though.”
Top image via Rémi Carreiro/The Varsity