Life lessons I learned from Architecture School

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Design studio makes your life miserable sometimes | Personal photo | 2013

I want to introduce another contributor to my readers.  Her name is June Hwang and she is a recent graduate from University of Toronto Architecture School.  She had already written a great piece, Can Architecture become more approachable to bigger public?  on the Studio Jonah company website.  Over the dinner conversation, I casually asked what her architecture school experience has been for her, and her responses surprised me (seasoned architect, aka old person). It was not the usual “sleepless all nighters”, “designing portfolio for her jobs”, or what the” latest technical softwares/apps” I should know, rather her philosophical take on  the life lessons she received from the architecture education. Here are her TOP 3 lessons she shared with me.  I was blown away by her thoughtful and wise outlook on life.  Here is her story.

“Time flies”.

We express this sentiment often feeling either accomplished or regretful (more frequently the latter?), but either way, determined to move forward and achieve more. It’s already been a month since my convocation from Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto, and surely, time does fly. It was only four years ago when I first learned about Le Corbusier and his Villa Savoye, and now my knowledge goes beyond. Architectural education allows us, the architects, to encounter numerous challenges, such as having to possess a bit of knowledge in almost every field you can name, but the most demanding, yet valuable challenge is how to design. Design process is critical and arduous, but definitely worthwhile. As I recall my memories of undergraduate life, I’d like to share my three most valuable learning outcomes from design studio. See if you agree!

 

1) Don’t waste your precious time worrying. Act!

Design is a tricky thing. Your classmates, professors, crits and colleagues may not like your work. This process can be harsh and critical, but when ‘design studio’ gives you lemons, we’ve got to make lemonade! We live in a subjective world where everyone has their own taste and opinions, and not everyone is going to like your work. I learned that worrying and trying to satisfy every demand doesn’t often produce the best design. Act and try your best! In the end when the project is over, it doesn’t matter what people said and the project is still your baby.

 

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Sou Fujimoto / Chicago Architecture Biennial | Archdaily | 2016

2) Stay creative.

Inspiration is hard to find, but don’t we all eventually find one? Last April, the young Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto  visited Toronto for a lecture, where he said his inspiration comes from daily stuff or simply anything that allows him to imagine architectural spaces. This is true. Often, we find inspiration from unexpected things and moments – whether a biochemistry research paper you stumble upon or paintings showcased on Queen Street W galleries. Inspiration is everywhere, but we just need to look more and further to find the right one.

3) Be yourself. Always. 

Being yourself can be hard, but if you try to be someone else, you end up being neither. When the project arrives, it’s important to remember that the idea doesn’t have to be big and phenomenal, but yours. After numerous crits, I learned that being yourself gives more clarity and confidence about your own project, and of course at the end, you’ve just got to love your project. 

Do you agree with my learning outcomes? If you’ve had your own unique experience, I’d like to hear from you in the comment!

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