How to Succeed in the Architecture Department

1. Time Management + Managing Expectations

One of the hardest parts about being an architecture major is managing expectations and
holding yourself accountable for a project deadline. You could spend endless hours on a project
and often professors will offer so many propositions that often seem like requirements, but
these are really just pushes for directing your project so don’t feel inundated trying to do every
single suggestion. Take the ones you find the most interesting + productive and move forward
with those. You also have more control over your projects than you think as long as you are
clear and vocal with your AI or professor on what you want out of the project. Be honest about
your feedback for their suggestions and remain open minded to their critiques. But most
importantly, the expectation is that students will work on their projects endlessly; to counteract
that mindset, it can be helpful to set timers for how long you’re going to work on something
and once the timer is up you’re finished with that part of your project because if you don’t set
time allotments then you could work on projects forever. This will help you manage your own
time while being honest about directing your project direction with your professor will help
them shape their expectations for their project.

2. Establishing a Purpose

Since the department is interdisciplinary, you’ll need to figure out what you really want to
concentrate on to find depth and purpose in the work you’re doing. As I mentioned before,
make sure you take control of your projects because that and the skill set you’ve developed are
your true takeaways. Everyone else’s opinions are just suggestions, the project should be
something you are proud of and motivated to work on for yourself not others. And make sure
that this is reflected in your portfolio as well, so if you’re more interested in sustainable
architecture all your projects can relate to that topic in some form or if you’re interested in
industrial design you can gear your projects towards that since the department is receptive to
pursuing the type of design you are interested in. The most productive part of learning in
architecture derives from being able to develop iterations and take your project further so make
you’re clear about the direction you want reflected in your work and use that to guide you
through your JP and thesis process as well.

3. Proactive about Learning Techniques

You’ll often find that there are many ways to yield the same result in architecture, especially
with computer-aided designs, and sometimes you’ll find yourself taking a more roundabout
way to get the result you want when you know there is probably a function that could streamline
the process more. This is why the more proactive you are about learning new techniques the
better. It can be helpful to keep a list of functions in Rhino, AutoCad, and Adobe products that
you find helpful for the next time you encounter a similar type of issue. Watching Lynda tutorials,
attending workshops in the Digital Learning Lab, and asking your peers or AIs for how to
approach a certain function are all great direct resources to establish your design palette and
make you a better designer.