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What the Heck are Universities teaching?

edited August 2008 in architecture
This is a precursor to a letter I am going to write as am open lettr to the Univerities in Australia
My background is that after thirty years in practice I along with my pertners have a practice of some 24 staff.
In recent times I have become astounded at the lack of knowledge of recent graduates and as a filter I have started asking job apalicants to sketch (yes on a piece of paper) a section through a colume built house or the house they live in and I describe below the outcomes from several interviews on this and other matters
Applicant One (One year Out)
A basic brick veneer wall, no wall ties, no damp proof course, sitting in a concrete footing which in section was shaped like a concrete drainage channel
Applicant Two (Three and half years out)
After we explained what a section was ( No I am not kidding and the applicant had been working three years!!!!!) they then sketched a section that consisted of

a layer of brickwork
10 mm air gap
layer of plasterboard
timber frame
further airgap
Another layer of brickwork

Feedback on this interview from a staff member was that we didn't need an architect rather we were looking for a Project Manager
Applicant Three ( One year Out)
Quizzed about what consultants they would appoint on a jon that was a simnple brick veneer classrom struugled for sometime before proudly announcing that the consultant we needed was a builder
I am really looking forward to retirement  - I think there is going to be so much expert witness work around against Architects that it may be more profitable than thirty years of practice
What are our Architecture Schools doing????


  • edited 3:24AM
    Oohh Philip, I love this one, but I have to get back to it.
    Some schools teach Nihilist Regurgitation with about as much structure as a pavement pizza and the 'style' to go with it.
    Injudicious I am sure but I'd love to know the institutions your delinquents came from. Miles posted something recently about a battle in a bottle close to this topic going on in the letters page of AA.
  • edited 3:24AM
    Philip, I feel your pain, but I will guess that the University's reply will go something like this.
    "We are charged with the task of education students about Design not construction or the other aspects of professional practice, that is your job". We would certainly dissagree but we don't count.
    I can almost handle that. What I can't cope with is those that allow these people to get to Registration. Just don't start me on that one.
  • edited August 2008
    Well that's the hum dinger above that I called Nihilist Regurgitation.
    To teach design and not teach construction. ???  
    That's like teaching someone how to cook and not teaching them how to turn the oven on.
    They are NOT teaching design. (Edited text below)
  • edited August 2008
    Recently I entered a design comp run by the BDAV as a Building Design and Technology student preparing in my old age to do architecture at Uni. So I know what they are teaching in some building design courses
    The brief was an ESD office block on a long narrow site in Cremorne/ Richmond, which I duly delivered and won my Tafe's selection. I wrote about my experiances recently where the judges excoriated me in the second round with a pretend client interview that wound up convincing me... well, read it yourself in 'client relationships'.
    The winner is in and it's out of NMIT with RMIT running up. It looks like the new breed of wonkytexture as do the second and third place getters, but I write this because though the judges fluff piece talks about the winner sticking to the brief and abiding by the BCA it actually does neither on five seperate counts that I could see in the 1:200 reproductions we got to see.
    I am talking about:
    :- 90 degree parking in a total site width of 9.27 meters not including the actual structural width of walling. Minimum 9.9m legal width of aisle plus bay for 90 degree parking. Probable 8.85 maximum width of site after allowances for minor details like structural concrete.
    :- A $2,000,000 budget blown out completely by the white (titanium enamelled) sandwich aluminium paneling at $500 a square metre and the engineering nightmare of a wonytextured treatment of the whole of the North wall so as to try and get  glazing in.
    :- The wonkytexture cost the client at least fifty square metres of office floor space in direct contravention of the clearest part of the brief which was not only first off the rank but was in bold type.
    :- The fact that there is any glazing at all on the north wall which is smack on a boundary and is FRL'd at 120:120:120. and therefore completely prohibits any glazing of any sort.
    :- The ventilation system seems to be entirely encumbant upon air being driven into small vents under the northfacing windows and into bulkheads running around the perimeter of the two floors. That's clever, the windows can't be opened due to fire regulations apparently. Presumably the air is sucked in by some mechanical means somewhere, but that's clever, the vents are on a complete fire source feature so they have to be permanently shuttered in any case. Oh, did someone mention ESD and how they propose to make cool fresh air rising off a north facing wall travel through two 29 metre tunnels with eight right angle bends.
    Never mind that its all on the boundary and so as soon as the niehbours sell to a developer the entire north wall is going to be bricked up any way.
    Yes I am a bit pissed off as well Philip and deeply concerned, but trying to convince people of the merits of ESD or enviromentalism in general and how many can't see that they are a part of the problem is hard enough without even the technical colleges ignoring not only structural problems but regulatory ones as well.  
    To then have past presidents judging at this standard.   Well, heck! What can I say. I can only think that the Building Designers Association of Victoria is straining in the attempt to pretend to be architects without even knowing what that is.
    At least I will not betray my principals to STYLE and bravo to all of you who manage not to either. Any chance I could get out of here and go to Vietnam?
  • edited 3:24AM
    Gadzooks m'Lud ........Me thinks i have hit a nerve
  • edited August 2008
    Yes Philip, I am excitable but I am also passionate about design, so I am afraid it's not too hard to hit a nerve near me.
    History tells us that the founders of the Bauhaus fled artistic persecution by the Hapsburg kings of baroque mediocrity. They then set up in Berlin only to have to flee, students and staff, the even more virulent artistic persecution of the Nazi's.
    As comfortable a position as it is in this land of the lamentable featurist, I am going to stand and fight it and often have.
    Thanks for getting my blood up.
  • edited August 2008
    Here is a quote from Davina Jackson’s ‘Pink Fits' (2006 p165) culled from a frothcoming essay in a forthcoming book called 'Antipodean Spaces. Museums and cultural centres in Australia and New Zealand',
    She ranges wide on Federation Square and says in regards to it having been ‘thrown’ onto the site
    "It wasn't rocket science to get to the point that this gesture was intended to metaphorically smash the Meisian (and perhaps also Murcuttian) glass boxes that were architecture's greatest symbols of both industrially mechanised technologies and the transparency of modern democracies."
    We all know she is a champion of the Stylist 'method' of design. Elsewhere in the book she betrays her ignorance and possibly an unwillingness to understand, that the concept of architecture as a Stylist paradigm and practically nothing else is to completely dismiss the whole point of art in the first place.
    Boyd's lamentable featurists have here a clarion caller urging everyone over a cliff. She even uses the term 'Viral Internationalist' to describe the seemingly endless infection of architecture schools with the new wonkytexture of the plausibly impossible mathematically digitalonical decostructavist confabulationistasisms.  
    All that is confection when the grand feature is so virulent that it has infected not only every stylistic affectation to be conceived of, but it has also infected the structure. It is noted by Davina that Fed Square's budget was blown out by a fracture of not quite 300% and as such this wonderful new dawn of architectural deconstructavism (if ever there was a more succinct tag) is widely understood amongst professionals to be a design style beyond the means of even the most mildly infected client. Even if they "like it" (as much as Barry Marshall quoted at a Sydney planning approval meeting p152 Pink Fits) they can't have it unless they're as rich as Woolworths or Disney.
    The problem is that thinking Murcuttian architecture (or even Meisian architecture) had or has anything to do with ‘style’ and 'symbolism' as conceptual originators of design, is to widely miss the orgasm of design conception. But this is what Jacksonian coterie mentors in their self congratulatory fashion are teaching impressionable young people. Let alone revealing themselves to be uninformed as to the thought processes and motivations that Meis Van der Rohe and Murcutt used and uses.
    It is one thing to do away with empirical analysis and even structural considerations in reaching a design decision, as Ghery does quite well, but it is completely another to teach people by omission or otherwise, that other design philosophies have no validity anymore because "I like" the results. I actually like the style too but that doesn't mean I can pretend that its origins are empirical or that they don’t need empirics to construct them, and that its 'symbolism' is relevant beyond the moment of its completion, and that it is somehow all defeating of all before and after it.
    There has always been a radically respected penchant in art of cocking-a-hoop at what previously was regarded as tradition and certainly when it comes to style there is often nothing better than a refreshing new look at an old problem. But never before have architectural pretenders been so up themselves as to declare both the transcendences of style and the fundamental foundations of design philosophy to be defunct, now that they have thrown down a digitalized glass gauntlet.
    So much do the wonkytechs deign to forget the fundamentals of design, that when Fractual Stylism finally disintegrates under the weight of dust collecting behind all those inaccessible maintenance hatches, and the world has run out of oil to fuel their greedy insularities, there will be no drawing boards to go back to. There will no longer be an academic source book because the deconstructavist Featurists and Stylists will have burned all the books in an attempt to keep warm inside their unsustainable architecture.
    No actually, they will have abandoned them enmasse and will be pushing their way through North Australian fly screens in an attempt to make friends again with 'Murcuttian' architecture, only by then they won’t be able to recognise it and instead will find themselves checking into Bates Motel from Psycho because it has a strangely familiar sounding name.
    To declare the death of Murcuttian architecture is like saying one need not eat from dinner plates anymore because I have just invented this bucket of broken glass you can eat from instead.  Well I am sorry but there is actually no such thing as a "Murcuttian architecture" that can be declared dead. It is not a style. It is a process and a method of design founded on a solid understanding of the environment in which it must exist and the materials of which it must be made.
    It is no more a matter of 'style' than that having to breathe is a matter of choice or that leopards have spots because they like them. And 'Meisian' architecture isn't a style either unless you don’t know why you are copying it. That’s what’s called Nihilist Regurgitation and it is being taught without teaching even how it might be constructed. To teach design and not teach construction???  Well that's like teaching someone how to cook and not teaching them how to turn the oven on.
    They are NOT teaching design. They (surely not all architecture schools, I hope) are not teaching design and that's the problem. They are teaching STYLE. They are teaching egotistical scatology. They are teaching the fine art of stylistic forgery. They are teaching the spastic gesticulations of the latest self indulgent Christ who blundered into the studio drunk on their distillations. They are teaching the featurist application of empty, colourful and meaningless 'filled regions' where once it was called a concrete urn on a post. They are falling into an abysmal canyon of mediocrity while they busily unstitch the parachute. They're declaring the morning of their own ascendancy when they don't even know the date.
  • b1_b1_
    edited 3:24AM
    So Philip, how much did you know when you were one year out of Uni. No doubt you could document an entire building with ease? The only people I would imagine being confident detailers or budding project managers one year out of Uni would be those that were involved in the building industry before starting their Architecture degree, or someone who had been perfectly nurtured in a job in that first year out.
    I agree the Uni's are a little light on the technical stuff and could improve student preparedness for the 'real world', but to be fair to students there's only so much you can learn from theory. Unis try to include real projects in their curriculum but as you'd understand this is limited because buildings are expensive. There are subjects that have you observing building projects but that's not 'doing', and doing is when it sinks in.
    I know when I first started out I thought I needed to know far more than I actually needed to. No one explained that I could ring suppliers for a detail, or talk to an engineer about a structural member, or get help from a colleague. I thought I needed to know everything and was constantly worried that I'd be put on the spot by someone like you. Any profession's graduates know little and at least for their first few years are constantly asking questions of colleages.
    Really, the only thing you should be worried about for graduates is 'are they smart enough to pick things up quickly'. Once you've found that person hand them a book like 'Building Your Own Home' by George Wilkie, be very specific about what is expected of them and more importantly what is not expected of them, then support them as best you can. In a few years time you might just find you've got a highly productive team member.
  • edited August 2008
    Please don't let me deter other people from contributing,
    but 'b1'
    I think Philip is talking about a lack of education in what is being taught at Universites. Not a lack of passion or intellect on the part of students.
    I am doing (nearly done now, yippeee!) a two year full time building design diploma at Tafe in preparation for a uni degree in architecture and we were handed a copy to buy of Wilkie's 'Build Your Own Home' as a first year text book, on the first day. 
    I think that makes it pretty clear that the fundamentals of design were not given to you as a student if you expect that after a two plus three degree that your employer should educate you all over again from scratch.
    What then did you learn at university that prepared you for the real world design considerations of client needs, structure and waterproofings?
  • edited 3:24AM
    as a current student i must admit i expected much more emphasis on the 'buildings go together' side of town then is actually the case.. however isn't this topic inextricable linked to the issues coming out of the 'doscounting and limiting scope' thread? especially issues of off-loading project documentation and stuff> tasks that used to be considered the architect's responsibility are no longer etc.
    now instead of requiring perhaps a diploma to be an architect, from which one was to have gathered a thorough understaning of 'everything', you get a masters as acknolodgement for a thorough understanding of rhino.
    out of interest, which uni are you considering attending simon?
  • b1_b1_
    edited 3:24AM
    Simon, you cannot expect students to retain all that knowledge at Uni or even a tafe construction course and be able to regurgitate it all on demand. At uni you may, if you're lucky, do two subjects a semester that require you to use technical drawing knowledge, and it will be used once, when your major design assignment is due at the end of the 6 months. Some semesters you don't do any technical drawing depending on your electives. When you work you will be detailing every day so the information is retained.
    More important, and more practical, than expecting graduates to have perfectly retained all knowledge fed to them over a 5 year course, is to make sure that if they don't know something they know how to look up or find out what they need to know.
    There is no way any uni assignment can prepare you for a real world client and job. There is just a massive amount of knowledge and experience needed to avoid all the real world pitfalls that occur on a job. Have you ever worked on a job that didn't have at least one drama no matter who was working on it or how much experience they had?
    Half the skill of being an Architect is having confidence and being resourceful on the fly. If you want your staff in that mold then ridiculing them won't help. If you test them and they fail, don't dismiss them, direct them to resources they can use to fill in their gaps in knowledge, tell them who they can get help from, correct their efforts if they don't get it right the first time, all the while encouraging them. If after this they still can't draw your brick veneer wall detail, by all means, if you feel you must, tell them they're useless and fire them.
  • edited August 2008
    b1,  I am not doing a construction course, I am doing a building design course.
    As a prerequisite to design is the knowlege of how everything must go together. As well as Wilkie which deals mainly in domestic construction methods, (get Francis Ching for commercial and industrial construction)  we are taught basic engineering principles so that we know what kinds of spans and hieghts we can design with and further down the track we are taught catalytic chemistry so that we know not to specify a lead gutter or a copper ridge on an aluminum roof and what type of fixings we should specify for what types of timber.
    As far as retaining knowlege, well yes I would expect you to keep notes and to have them in enough order (dated and bound) to be able to find them again for the next few years at least. I have taken it a little further and pulled out all the information I felt I had to have at hand and given it a seperate folio and I have trawled the library at La Trobe while I still have a student card, paying far less attention to the 'Style' and pretty Archi-porn books and a lot more attention to the structural end of the architecture shelves
    I should also expect that you would not have to be told where to go and find information as that is one of the basic skills taught to us as well. Sure, regurgitating information on demand is difficult to begin with but as you get familiar with information retrieval you will notice that it becomes second nature fingertip information for all the basics and that manual information searching is par for the course of architecture FOR EVERY SINGLE JOB. If you expect someone to tell you where to go for information they'll get pretty sick of that because half the job is information retrieval.
    "Half the skill of being an Architect is having confidence and being resourceful on the fly".    NOOOOoooo......!
    Not true! That is about a tenth at best of a good architects skills and most of that shows up at the client interview and the Southbank terrace lunches. After that you will find that there is terror on many fronts that has to be dealt with or you'll have solicitors letters fluttering through your mail box flap like a scene from Harry Potter. There are tonnes of resourses and none of it is on the fly. It all has to be carefully researched and documented and accounted for. Resourcefullness on the fly is for kitchenhands. This job is far more serious.
    This I think is the crux of Philips lament. it sounds to me that Style for you was more interesting than substance or that was they way the course was structured for you possibly. For the Uni's to release people who don't know what they are going into is a dereliction of thier purpose. But anyhow, good luck with finding a job and make sure you pay close attention.
    Andrew.   I have at least three years of internship with an architect ahead of me in Victoria and then I am hopefully enrolling at NSW Uni. Out of interest, what's rhino?
  • edited August 2008
    .........Rhino?! I think Andrew means RhinoCAD.
    It's a 3D program that make people, of a particular persuasion, look as if they know what the third dimension is. What to do with and what happens in that third dimension might not be in the carriculum. Simon, I believe you will know what to do there. Philips interviewees would not.
  • b1_b1_
    edited 3:24AM
    Rhino is a nurbs modelling tool. It is used for modelling 3 dimendional curves. The program is very easy to pick up if you've used autocad before.
    'I am not doing a construction course, I am doing a building design course.'
    It is a good idea to do a tafe course on building before starting the Architecture Degree. There is a greater emphasis on how things go to together, or a total emphahsis on it. The Architecture courses move more towards design, design theory, ESD principles, history of architecture etc. There is still the technical stuff but it's more scattered throughout.
    'Sure, regurgitating information on demand is difficult to begin with but as you get familiar with information retrieval you will notice that it becomes second nature fingertip information for all the basics and that manual information searching is par for the course of architecture FOR EVERY SINGLE JOB. If you expect someone to tell you where to go for information they'll get pretty sick of that because half the job is information retrieval.'
    You've repeated my point. 1 year graduates aren't going to be as good at this as a 30 year architect. But once you start working and do it every single day it will become second nature very quickly. In Uni you don't do it every single day so it does not become second nature.
    '"Half the skill of being an Architect is having confidence and being resourceful on the fly".    NOOOOoooo......!'
    You've misunderstood me. Being resourceful means you know how to go about solving probems - and this is a big part of being an Architect. On the fly because there will always be problems that you've never encountered before. Confidence means knowing how to handle yourself when a builder is in your face trying to intimidate you. It's about having a general awareness of how much you should know so that when someone is giving you that 'you should know that' look, you have the confidence to tell them that you don't know but will find out for them, and not feel bad about yourself - far better than bullshiting them.
    'it sounds to me that Style for you was more interesting than substance'
    This is pretty much the biggest insult you can throw at an Architect. I would tuck that away unless you're absolutely sure it's the case of the person you're directing it at.
    'But anyhow, good luck with finding a job and make sure you pay close attention.'
    I have been working in the industry for 7 years and have a job. I am simply projecting back to my experiences as a junior running into people like philip who did not help my development with their unreasonable expectations and derision.
  • edited August 2008
    Points taken b1. Apologies offered. Now that you are twice the person I thought you were, may I call you b2
    To all those students thinking of architecture as an exercise in style
    Me being arrogant...  'it sounds to me that Style for you was more interesting than substance'
     b1 being gracious... This is pretty much the biggest insult you can throw at an Architect. I would tuck that away unless you're absolutely sure it's the case of the person you're directing it at.
  • b1_b1_
    edited 3:24AM
    Well, I wasn't really being gracious. I was having a go at you and shouldn't have.
    To be fair to Philip I can understand where he's coming from to a certain degree. I have encountered some graduates who could do the 3D but nothing else, no matter how much you helped them. Whether they were stupid or just so overwhelmed they couldn't function, I don't know. All I'm saying is that I think Philip should hold judgement until he's had more than a passing involvment with these interviewees. I also think if he wants a drafter he should recruit from the technical colleges; if he wants designers and people who can see the bigger picture, generally better communicators and so on, go for the Architecture graduates and think long term.
  • b1_b1_
    edited 3:24AM
    ...if he wants both a designer and a drafter out of a 1 year graduate then all I can say is good luck finding one. Best bet would be to hire the graduate architect and send them to the technical course as part of the employment contract - should be plenty of tax breaks doing it this way.
  • edited 3:24AM
    there are a lot of us out there with both skills, who haven't finished yet and we don't even get a look in until your finished the degree.
  • edited August 2008
    That was having a go at me? Fair cop from my end and lucky ducks your employees to have such a patient boss, but back to the script,
    I wrote a post ages ago mentioning a group of architecture students (under the remote guidance of their teacher) who built a studio for my uncle which I had to go and repair because they'd put in 'timber strap' bracing (dimentionally the same size as the posts) that was attached to the post with brackets set perpendicular to the direction of the bracing and butted against the posts instead of checked in. In fact no bracing at all in the form I found it and betraying a complete misunderstanding of how bracing works. They appeared to understand that it should be in something like the position it was in but because of the size of the timber and the position of the fixing brackets they seemed to think it was acting in compression. To my mind this shows that they were more concerned with appearances than substance, this leads me to presume that Style has too big an emphasis in course curriculum.
    A quick look at any Foster building will show that bracing is pretty fundamental to architecture. In my overly long post to do with Davina Jackson's Pink Fits quote above, I point out that Davina is primarily concerned with Style to the point of failing to grasp the fundamental methods of design invoked by Mies and Murcutt. Elsewhere in her book she serves up the thinly veiled accusation of hypocrisy to Murcutt, saying that the Boyd Arts Centre is a betrayal of the 'touch the earth lightly' dictum by gouging out the earth with its structure.
    She completely ignores the fact that the Boyd centre is a temple to art and not a simple house and so must have a 'tabula rasa' reflected in its foundations. Apart from the fact that projected human traffic makes a concrete base highly advisable in touching the earth lightly around the building, she fails to notice that the huge (three tonnes at least) staircase at the end of the student dorms lands on the ground on a foot not much more than one and a square metres in size, or that the entire structure stays strictly on the contours and so involves a lot less excavation than one might assume from it size.
    But then 'assuming' is the problem (apologies again b2). As Davina is primarily concerned with Style she can't bring herself the read the plans with her eye on the structure, so she fails to notice that the Boyd Art Centre does not in fact deviate from Murcuttian methods of design. In 'style' she assumes that concrete is symbolically differant from steel and therefore Murcutt has abandoned his principles. She fails to realise that Murcutts first big break, the Laurie Short house is of large steel members with a heavy concrete foundation designed to carry a 250mm thick concrete roof. For Murcutt there has been no deviation from designing to suit the site and the purpose of the building, so structurally style is irrelevant and he therefore arrives at a design with a structure dictated by the needs of the design and dictated as much by climate and site. He does not choose a structure dictated by a design already arrived at by the needs of style. For Murcutt style is something that just happens when all else has been accounted for and that's why he is considered the first Australian vernacular architect, because that is what vernacular means 'with out stylistic concern but with a style of its own'
    For Davina, Style is so all encompassing she can't see that she has missed the point of architecture in the first place.
    So philips question is still awaiting an answer, what are students learning in architecture courses if they are not learning the fundamentals of architectural structure? Can any students answer that for us?
  • edited 3:24AM
    First post and First year at UniSA here, I have the Wilkie and Arden book as it's a recommended text. We are using the TFC(AS 1684) at the moment to design a timber framed studio with a mezzanine so in short, we are learning construction principles, but as b1 so eloquently pointed out the emphasis is always on design. I am pretty happy with the amount of information I am being given at the moment it feels well balanced also for first year. No matter what profession people will always say it was harder/better in my day, it's natural. I think it is just different, for example for design documentation at the moment we have a wonderful tutor who has done everything by hand and still does, his drawings are a work of art, and I am not saying that hand drawing is obsolete, but software is another tool for us to use, the programs don't run themselves you still need to input your information, its just a different tool for designing. The way I see it, if you can be well rounded, and as b1 says also, know where and how to get the info required that is important. Having said this, Im only in first year/second semester and yes I know what a section is, and I reckon I would give it a pretty good crack if asked to draw one of my house, so not sure where these students were from? Anyway that my 2c.
  • edited September 2008
    First year UTS here, we definitely haven't touched much (or any) of that stuff yet.  There seems to be a pretty big emphasis on 3d modelling/graphics side of things at my uni.  Within the first two weeks we learnt photoshop, adobe illustrator, rhino . . . now we are learning maya as well.  We seem to spend a lot of time doing installation-type things, like in one subject we are making moveable icebergs out of laser-cut perspex, in another we are making sculptures out of old slides.  I do enjoy it a lot but I am beginning to question some aspects of the course a little because I have been working since I finished high school and it seems that in real life most of this graphic type work is outsourced . . .
    But then again, have been getting real-life experience learning the more practical stuff, bca guidelines etc at work, so by the end of the 5 years I will be pretty competent at that anyway. 
    I am guessing from this thread that you all seem to rate work experience as more important than uni? I've been getting really mixed messages from people about this issue.  Feel like my study (and amount of sleep) has definitely been compromised because of the amount of hours I work, but am not sure whether this is ok or not.  Some people have been telling me that to get the best jobs as a graduate it's best to not work and work towards getting an amazing portfolio, but other people have been telling me that keeping my job is way more important than the difference between a distinction and a high distinction at uni.  Am in a pretty good position at work, my job involves no phone answering and a lot of hands on experience in documentation. . . what do you guys think?
    By the way, also don't know where your section people are coming from. . . we did the section/plan/elevation thing in our first week.
  • edited 3:24AM
    wow people I really appreciate the response and apologies for not responding or monitoring my topic. Life has been busy here doing "mark ups". I promise that I will read in detail this week and make some comments
  • edited 3:24AM
    Thankyou all for the response - I am overwhelmed - and impressed by the professional nature of the discussion. Ok I have read through and throw in a few comments in response - not exhaustive but these are the things that have struck me.
    Simon - Your anology about learning to cook without turning on the oven says it all for me. I guess my position is that morally i could not possibly present a to client a proposal that I was not confident could be built - and by confident I mean that I knew in my heart and mind could be built not that I relied on say and engineer to tell me it could be built. In many respects your story of the BDAV competition sums up how far off beam we have strayed as a profession. We no longer dominate and lead in our own industry. Ironically only about 20% of our notional fee scale deals with the "pretty picture" the other 80% deals with our ability to put together a building and procure it for a Client with someone getting sued (well not often anyway)
    Please do not interpret my issues as being arguing against the importance of design - far from it. I can appreciate a design debate as much as anyone but to me its about baking a chocolate cake without the chocolate if we can't recognise the criticallity and centrallity of constructability to good design and thereby our survival.
    B1 - Thanks for your input. As it happens when I graduated I could put together a modest project and by three years out I could and had done a 7 storey building. Probably however the system was more attuned to equipping us to be in an office as we were not allowed to graduate until we had obtained 52 weeks experience in an office throughout the time of our uni course. I am not "yearning for the good old days" and don't wish to be labelled accordingly ....I am simply questioning a system that has I believe failed aspiring architects and charged them a lot of money for the privilege along the way in the form of HECS...and has inadequately equipped them for he day to day "drudgery of the office"
    For one of my sins I also teach at one of our Universities but it will come as no surprise that it is in the school that teaches and trains builders and construction managers not Architecture - clearly I wold be too much of a threat to the Architecture school. One of the fascinating projects we do is to get our buiding students to collaborate on a design project with the architecure students .....its really comforting to see both sides come up against the complaints each discipline makes of the other in the real world...." the architects cant get the design sorted in time for us to cost"...." all the builders want is the final drawings to cost and don't understand that good design takes time" 
    A note ( I think to Andrew) - lets not talk about outsourcing - we have lost control of much of what we ought to be able to do to emerging disciplines such as Interior Designers and Project Managers.....Project Managers arose in out industry becasue as a profession we dropeed the ball on the most basic tenets of what we should strive to manage....time cost and quality. Its a little wonder we are viewed somewhat contempuously at times
    B1 - My view is that the system doesn't even impart the requisiste knowledge for the graduate to "regurgitate". Anyway its not about regurgitation its about applying knowledge to produce...surprise surpise...better design. I feel it is not reasonable to expect people to appreciate the bigger picture without understanding how it all goes together
    Supergroove.............Well I am from South Australia and we have two universities with architecture courses so the odds your school are in my sights are 50/50...or maybe even higher if I am aiming at both Schools, Modesty and legailities prevent me identifying the source of the specific examples.
    Finally to Trans European Express - What do I look for in a graduate - ok in no particular order

    A reasonable University career.......High Disctinctions are not the be all and end all
    Experience working anywhere...kmart, Maccas  or tells me you probably understand the concept of responding to the customer ( clients) needs and not your own design ego
    If possible but not essential some experience or exposure to our industry beit working as a labourer, or in a drafting capacity ...almost anything that has given you some insight to our industry
    Finally I will take enthusiasm and attitude ahead of high grades any day

    These commetns are given and accepted I trust in the spirit of professionalism that has marked this string todate....."You are making an old man very happy people"
  • edited 3:24AM
    Some food for thought for those that think that knowledge of construction methodology is outside the charter of an “Architect”

    How do you answer the following “design” questions:

    From a builder

    “the detail you’ve created can’t be built , we’ve tried on site but it just doesn’t work.
    An achievable solution to get the “look” you want will cost an extra $43,000 over what is indicated on your drawings and allowed for by the contractor who assumed that what you had drawn was buildable.(who by the way was not the one to provide original price at tender time)
    What do you direct me to do and to whom do I send the bill…..and would you like the left over materials from the original attempt sent to your home and who is paying for them?.- oh and by the way – did I mention time delay costs….?”

    From a client:

    “what do you mean you can’t get anybody to tender on your design- is your design/documentation showing some thing that really is buildable.?”

    “what do you mean “the builder should have known it wasn’t buildable?””

    “I don’t understand these variations for all these columns/fixings/flashings (insert whatever you like here) that are now required- didn’t you know that at the start ?”

    “what are these time extension cost thingo’s?

    “I like the 3D computer rendering you’ve done for my project – but what holds up all those free floating elements ? and how much will that cost? And so on…..

    BTW “Skyhooks” is not a real answer – they were a 70’s rock band.- I know – I was there.

    From your employer:

    “yes its very nice- but how do we build it ? “

    “do you know what my P.I. premiums are.?”

    From you clients lawyer (who probably knows sweet FA about buildings)

    “what were you thinking????”

    If you think I’m trying to scare you design “guru’s” …You’re right - .I am.

    I don’t know what’s worse from recent and not so recent graduates, the deafening silence in answer to a simple question, or the look you get, just like you get from a Roo caught in the headlights just before it gets mowed down.

    Design is not just aesthetics……

    And yes experience is invaluable and essential and part of the process in this profession.
    I at least expect graduates to be able to have a grasp on the basics, an issue which is currently not guaranteed by having a diploma.

    I think I’d better take a pill and lie down.
  • edited 3:24AM
    AS I recall Ramius was the capitain of a submarine in "Hunting for Red October" delightfully apt in this thread
  • edited 3:24AM
    Ahoy there!
  • sodsod
    edited 3:24AM
    The only thing worse than dealing with "know nothing" recent grads is reading experienced hacks bleat on about how crap the education system is. Yes it is - how perceptive of you to notice. It's sickening to read blokes pissing in each others pockets because they have existed for at least 10 years more than everyone else.
  • There is one thing worse Mr Sod
    People who know there is a problem but who 'actively' do nothing and say nothing about it.
    Only through discussion do solutions get found. Even if they remain theoretical solutions the problems belong to all of us , experianced hacks and recent grads equally. Importantly however, theoretical solutions have a habit of becoming applied solutions once enough awareness of the problem is garnered. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • edited 3:24AM
    Well Mr Sod
    You reallyu do have a chip on your little shoulder.
    Take my advice - Get real about what is expected of you in the real world or get out
    The lawyers will eat you alive
  • edited 3:24AM
    Poor Sod

    I feel your pain

    To demonstrate the point , a couple of examples of recent experiences with new and not so new graduates.:

    Cannot discuss even simple structural concepts (with other architects let alone with Engineers)

    Unfamiliar with the concept of keeping water out of the building. (flashing)

    Unfamiliar with the properties and usage of common building materials..

    I suspect many construction problems that confront us are not necessarily those encountered when providing “cutting” or “bleeding” edge design. But rather an ignorance of SIMPLE , COMMON detailing / construction practices.

    Is it too much to expect this knowledge or understanding after 5-6 years of study?

    The Architectural schools are charging a pretty penny to give you an Architectural degree. (just what is the cost at the moment? -as opposed to its worth).

    I suggest that you with torches and pitchforks in hand, confront your educators and demand YOUR MONEY’S WORTH.- kick their doors down.
    You are their customers.

    It seems they sure as hell aren’t listening to the profession.

    Otherwise the Institute that represents us may as well setup their little stall at the home show and educate the public (our clients) to expect less and less of the profession.

    I really do feel for the students and Graduates- they are the victims in the first instance , but the public in turn, will become their victims…..
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