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S. P. Moorehead SS.A. has written the following article especially for the Crimson, giving his impressions of the School of Architecture from the point of view of a student in his third year. Dean Ed. gell's account of the history, development and purpose of the School of Architecture will be printed in an early issue.
Before the entering student in a graduate school lies a short period of bewilderment. The School of Architecture is to different in this respect than other departments. There is a new technique of language, of study, and of production before him and most important of all, there enters that uncertain element--the necessity for creative ability. He finds himself in a huge room full of noise and men, restlessness and work--this later in a marked degree. He sees a cross section of life and a set of values that will remain the same for him always in considerable contradiction, in many cases to chose rather glittering and dubious values of college life. He sees leafers and drudges, brilliance and dullness grains and ordinary achievement. All about him he notices and intimate group, thinking sympathetically, with much to accomplish. He is given a tiny space in the great room where he will work for several years, and where he finally enters into his own and better is an internal part of the larger group.
Other Students Criticism
However restless and noisy this great draughting room seems, it is really the heart of the School. Here it is that each man does most of his work cements friendships gives and seeks advice and criticism from his fellows. The beginner relies in great part upon the criticism of the most advanced student, and learns from him much of what he knows and will know. In return for this aid, he works on the preparation of the drawing and "projects" of the advanced man, glad to do so for what he will learn of the use of pigments, presentation of final drawings, representation of lights and darks, planes and shades, and logic in plan and elevation.
In general this scheme is known as the "atelier", and is really the last survival of those old workshop schools where great masters of architecture, sculpture, and painting instructed their apprentices as they worked for the masters from dawn till dusk. The great monuments and works of art of past time were brought forth in such an atmosphere where master and pupil mangled in intimate personal connection of creation and criticism. For sculpture, painting, and the minor arts, the nineteenth century saw the disappearance of the old workshop but fortunately for architecture the tradition comes down to us in unbroken line from Egypt and Greece--not only in stylistic influences and legends, but in manipulation of process and technique.
This room, again, is a melting pot for all the interest and experiences of its occupants. Some of the men have just got back from Europe, Asia, or Timbuctoo, and some are just going there. All the information of worth is circulated, and soon the new thoughts and facts have been passed on for the good of the whole. In the same way, books and periodicals of note and interest go around and are discussed. There may be a few nonconformists of course, who are repelled by such a frankly communal organization but for those who are willing to give and take for what they may acquire in personal help and broadening, few things are so beneficial or of such lasting good.
The first two years of the student's training are spent on a multitude of courses which are planned to give him facility in drawing, painting, sketching, in the fundamentals of design, and in architectural construction, and in the use of building materials. Above all, he must learn to draw, and draw. So, too, must be have a firm background of history of architecture and the forces of civilization which forged the different styles and periods. Finally, architectural elements and motives flow easily from his hand, his imagination conceives and his mind and hand realizes these conceptions, while his drawings and engineering faculties weave them into buildings. He has, then, more confidence in his hand, brain, and eyes in his own abilities to create, to analyze, and to solve. Indeed, I have seen third-year men criticize and analyze works of painting, sculpture, literature, music, and drama with more astuteness and reason than are often expected from specialists in those fields of the same length of training and age.
Employ Case System
These analytical and creative faculties are won only through much experience and work. They are sharpened and increased mainly through the employment in the training of the "caso system"--in other words, of problems in design and in construction. The student works on this and learns not to wander too far from the truth, but he is never told exactly what he must do. He learns by trial and error. Naturally, at the earlier stage of his training, he is wrong most of the time, and for this reason is likely to become pessimistic rather than the reverse.
To cause the student to think quickly and accurately, and to focus his imagination, for problems in design he is required to furnish preliminary sketches. These are but 12 hours in length and must embrace the general solution for the problem. During the sketch no documentary aid or aid from instructors is allowed or given, so that the student is placed entirely upon his own resources. If he makes an error, it will go hard with him, since he is not permitted to depart from his sketch solution during the rest of the time alotted him for preparation of the final drawings. This discipline is heightened by the all-day sketch problem--a program that must be solved and drawn in final form in 12 hours. It is sketchy in form and requires rapidity of conception and study. Then, too, is the week-end sketch--really an enlarged all-day sketch--a very fatiguing and difficult type of test.
Architecture a Hard Master
It is not easy to explain the varied work involved in such a course. There is so much to be done, all of which is laborious to get out and affected always by pressure of time and endurance. Fifty per cent of the student's week-ends are usually sacrificed, every spring vacation for the upper classmen, and generally holidays. He is a genius, truly, who can satisfy all the requirements and yet have ample time for relaxation. Few people realize I think, how gruelling the course, is and haw remarkably happy the group is which gives all its time and energies to it.
Recently a statistical sheet was made out giving the required hours for the normal man in averages per day to win a degree, were he to anticipate a goodly number of courses as an undergraduate. The result was a trifle startling--he could do so if he were to spend ten hours six days a week for three and one-half years. Since this is nearly a physical impossibility, the student will have to spend surely about four years in order to attain the degree. However, for those who are willing to make the effort, the fruits seem to be well worth the winning, and, once the student has received his degree, he may rest assured that these laurels will carry him far
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