U of Florida Midterm Crit: 4th Year Architecture

I spent March 2nd on the fourth floor of the historic Dyal Upchurch building in Downtown Jacksonville listening to the presentations of 4th year architecture students on their design solutions for one of three urban infill sites along Main Street in the historic Springfield neighborhood. I love participating in these events as an architect and designer not just because of a desire to engage with the upcoming generation of architects, but mostly because it’s a perfect excuse to sit in a room with other design obsessed students and professionals talking about design and architecture for 5 hours. Winning!

We all know that, as professionals, it’s easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily architect-er-ing and lose some of that fervor we had in studio. I encourage all of you, if you’re not already, to get involved with your local universities and offer to either sit in on or even teach design courses. Not only do you get to pour into a whole new generation of architects, but it just might be what you need to rekindle your own inner designer.

Here are some images of the presentations taken with my iPhone. Keep in mind this was the midterm crit, so there is a fair level of resolution to most of the projects, but also a good way to go. Hopefully we helped to steer most of them in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the final crit in Gainesville in April like a starving man waiting for a steak at Longhorn. :-\ Enjoy.

This project is interesting. The student is using a folded skin that wraps the building and is bent or folded in places to create openings to let in natural light. You can also see in the courtyard rendering above that he’s even taken the skin all the way to the ground and incorporated table seating as part of the building facade. Nice touch, no?

This project has one of the most successfully designed outdoor spaces. Taking full advantage of the corner site, this student created an outdoor public space that is fully integrated with the building itself rather than being separate or an “afterthought”. One of my favorites.

Anyone who knows me knows that I get all giddy when I see physical models. In my mind any student that brings in study models, no matter how crude or rudimentary, gets a big ole gold star in my book. Surprisingly I was not only the first, but the only, one on the jury to pick up the models, look at them, turn them around and get “into” the buildings. One of the things we’ve lost as a profession, in my opinion, is the tactile connection to our buildings. The computer has anesthetized us against our buildings with flashy and colorful renderings. Design is so much more fluid and real when you use your hands to create form and use those forms to study light in the real world, even at a small scale.

Overall this crit was a huge success. As fourth year students, this group is getting ready to graduate and move on to graduate studies. This will be a more critical time in which they continue to develop and refine their own personal design philosophies. I’m excited to see what this group has to offer in the future.

And again, if you’re not already involved with a local university architecture program, get up and get involved. You’ll thank me. I promise. These kids are the future of our profession. Pour into them anything you can. We’ll all be better off in the long run.

3 thoughts on “U of Florida Midterm Crit: 4th Year Architecture

  1. They say that computer renderings simply tell a different set of lies than a physical model. Some say physical models don’t get at many of the design ideas than a drawing. Both of these may be true, but I am a sucker for a physical model. When I was in school, our drawings were very plain compared to what my students produce today. However, we strived for extremely good models. I believe we referred to great models as a “Swiss watch” if it was made with great care and detail. We were proud of those. For some reason it is more difficult to get my students to appreciate that. They’d rather spend twice the time to make a Rhino model with average results than to pour themselves into a physical model. I’m sure the faculty are split on the issue too.

    I’m glad you had fun. Any time you want to come to Pittsburgh, I’ll have you on a crit.

    • The faculty are definitely split. I had professors in college (about 10 years ago now) that were all about the computer renderings. Others required models and some didn’t even want to see renderings. I’m a hybrid. I believe in technology as a vehicle to further the profession, but we still have to have that tactile connection. The art of building starts with the hands.

      Pittsburgh is, what, 4 hours from Connecticut/NY State? Next time I’m up to see family I’ll have to make a day trip down with the wife. I’m hoping that trip will happen later this year.

      • We made it to West Connecticut in 7 hours this past summer.

        I believe that one can become very familar with their design when they have to build a physical model. I do like 3d renderings, but I’m getting bored with only seeing photo realistic renderings. I like to see a mix.

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