Complaints about the state of architecture education are easy to come by, both in academia and practice. It's expensive, long, and arguably ineffective in preparing graduates for the realities of the field. So who's actually trying to fix it?
Will Hunter, former deputy editor of the Architectural Review, has one idea – start a whole new school altogether. Back in October, Hunter opened the brand new London School of Architecture, starting 30+ postgraduate architecture students on a 2-year course working with local firms on local projects. As the school's founder and director, Hunter wanted to form a "cost-neutral" model of architecture education, where students work part-time – for pay equal to the cost of tuition – while also attending courses. Give students a vested interest in their city and practice, narrow the gap between education and practice considerably, and make their training financially sustaining.
We spoke with Hunter in August, about the thought process behind the school and how he went about building it from the ground up. Our conversation has all the trappings of nervous excitement that you'd expect in anticipation of a school's opening, and we hope to check back in with Hunter after the LSA's first year is over.
Before coming to MIT to serve as dean of the School of Architecture + Planning in January 2014, Hashim Sarkis taught at Harvard's GSD as the Aga Khan professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies. He founded his own practice, Hashim Sarkis Studios, in Cambridge in 1998, and continues to lead the firm.
Sarkis’s experience working in two of the most highly-regarded architectural education institutions worldwide, while also managing his own firm, puts him in a unique position to approach theoretical questions of architecture from within the two, often discordant spheres of academia and practice. Our interview revolves around the same questions we ask in our Deans List series – how architecture education and practice are changing, how to address student needs, MIT’s particular take on how to cultivate exceptional architects, and the culture of the school in a global urban context.
Architect and educator Liam Young joins Paul Petrunia and Nicholas Korody in the Archinect studio for this week's One-to-One. Young, a kind of architect-non-architect (his definition of the role may vary), concerns his design and creative work with the anthropocentric futures of our globalized society, in architecture, energy, and technology.
Standard among his many roles are co-director of the AA's Unknown Fields Division, a nomadic research studio, and founder of the urbanism think tank, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today. Current projects include developing a new masters program at SCI-Arc in fiction and entertainment, and leading a studio at the AA. Special thanks to SCI-Arc for helping set up the interview.
This week's One-to-One guest is Jenna Didier, founder of the Materials & Applications research and exhibition space in Los Angeles. Didier started the driveway-sized venue in the front yard of her Silver Lake home in the early 2000s, looking for a space to establish community and exchange for like-minded architects, artists, designers, and makers in the city. M&A has since hosted installations by architects such as John Southern (Urban Operations), Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler (Oyler Wu Collaborative) and Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues (of Ball-Nogues Studio), among many others, and regularly holds events and gatherings.
More recently, Didier also founded Urban Applications: an initiative of M&A that works directly in and with local communities on environmental installations. We spoke about her work with robotics and fountains, and how creative communities are formed in sprawling metropolises.
This week on the podcast, we speak with Jens Bertelsen – a Danish architect specializing in historic preservation, who since 2011 has called himself "The Queen's Architect." Bertelsen’s official title under the Danish monarch (Queen Margrethe II) translates to something like “Royal Building Inspector,” “Royal Builder” or “Royal Surveyor,” but essentially means he's responsible for making sure that all the structures belonging to the monarchy stay in shape, and ideally, in use. This includes buildings like the Danish Parliament and the royal family’s winter home, Amalienborg Castle.
Bertelsen's firm, Bertelsen & Scheving, was founded in 2007 in Copenhagen, and specializes in historic preservation work. Bertelsen will hold the Royal Builder position until 2016.
Our new podcast, Archinect Sessions: One-to-One is an interview show, straight-up. Each episode features a single interview with a notable figure in contemporary architecture – it's that simple. Usually, One-to-One will be led by me or Paul Petrunia, while occasionally others will serve as guide. The conversation will be casual and spontaneous, touching on the interviewee's role in the expanding range of architectural practice, and will serve (we hope) a valuable archival role in future discourse.
For our very first episode, I spoke with Neil Denari of Neil M. Denari Architects (NMDA). Aside from his firm's work, Denari is a tenured professor at UCLA, and was the director of SCI-Arc from 1997 - 2001. We spoke about the shifting focus of architecture education, multitasking, Los Angeles and the recession's impact on architecture.