I cannot count how many times I have heard my peers exasperatedly tell me that they stayed up all night only to get completely crapped on in their critique. I believed them until one day when I decided to take note of all the positive things the critics had to say for a particular friend who was always down in the dumps after a crit. By the end of his crit, I had noticed a long list of compliments, and I thought that he would be a happy camper once we had dispersed. I was wrong. He was completely discouraged post-crit, and I was incredibly confused.
That day I realized that we needed to all work on how we receive criticism. When you go to a final critique…
Step #1: Take their advice as generally as possible. Clearly you are not going to go back and redo this project, but certain moves they suggest might be usable in a future project.
Step #2: If they criticize you for not doing something that you actually did, wait for an appropriate moment at which to point out your genius act. They may say “oh snap, my bad” (yes, exactly like that) or they may tell you why it was not good enough. Either way, you will get to know what to work on versus what to not worry about in the future.
Step #3: ^The key words there were “wait for an appropriate moment.” It sucks, but clearly your crits are subjective. You need to be respectful even if he/she is pissing you off. Talk when it is your turn. Keep your tone steady. Refrain from rolling your eyes or making a face.
Step #4: Take notes - both of what to improve and what they loved. If later you only remember all the negativity, it can help to review your notes and see that they said a lot of good things too.
Step #5: Chill out and keep your presentation short. If you take every crit too seriously, you may end up killing yourself. If you continuously ramble, not only is it ridiculously annoying for everyone else who has to listen, but it does not let your project speak for itself and you might point out something that takes your crit down the wrong road.
I have heard the above question numerous times from some of the first-years, and a lot of sympathetic sighs of “oh, you have to spend all your time in the studio, don’t you?” when I tell people I am an architecture major. Yes, yes I spend about as many hours in the studio as you do awake. But why does everyone think it has to be such a horrible experience all the time? First off, I would almost always rather be drawing up plans or making a massing model than studying or writing a seven page paper. Second of all, do you really think we work that entire time?
The studio is indeed a place to get down to business, but it’s also a place of play. Flip on the projector and put on Anchorman. Blow off some steam with some chair races. Laugh back at the drunken people stumbling around outside. Meet some new people. You might think it’s sad to spend your whole day or a weekend night in the studio, but how is it any better to be doing that work alone in your room? You ARE allowed to mix your social life with your education; it’s one of those fun perks of being an architecture student.
Remember in high school when receiving an “A” at the top of our work was the evaluation held nearest and dearest to our hearts (or overachieving brains)? Well that was then, and this is now. A lot of us still strive to get something that only a tiny fraction of us will receive, creating a Holy Grail attitude towards the A.
In the end though, we are really overhyping it. An “A” is to architecture as sleep is to human beings (oh wait, sleep is actually really good for you and improves your entire life? I didn’t know that…). But in all seriousness, as someone once told me, “If a firm looks at your work, they are not going to be able to tell if you got an A or a B+ on that project.” While it is important to work your hardest and marvelous to strive to be the best, give yourself some slack. Sometimes, it is not that you did not do a wonderful job, but that someone else did even better. Sometimes, it is not that you did not have great concepts, but just not enough work to showcase it well. However, other times, it is because you slipped and let yourself get lazy. So while it is necessary for you to be the best you can be, it is not necessary for you to let some little letter grade define who you are and who you can be.
I feel it is my responsibility to say, in relation to the last blog, that arrogance is highly undesirable. Yes, defend your project; explain why you did what you did; give supporting examples. But DO NOT attack back. The point of a critique is to get critiqued, not show everyone how you are obviously the next Frank Lloyd Wright. When you are with your peers, it could be said that though they may respect your opinion, they may not always want it. In case you weren’t aware, you too are still just a student. Sometimes your professor may say something that makes no sense, but they also have a ton of great advice and way more experience. You don’t know what you’re doing yet. In fact, you’ll probably never really know what you’re doing. And if you think you do, get off your high horse and think again. Harsh criticism hits a lot harder if you believe you are above it.
It’s the curse of our major, but the fact that we can always improve is kinda great too. It’s the epitome of the idea that no one is perfect and that not everyone is going to love your stuff, but that you have just got to roll with the punches.
Hello all! This is the first post under the new
regime e-board, so I hope you enjoy/relate/learn something new/don’t hate it.
One of the first things our last president told me when I was nervous about my first crit was “be confident.” Those are generally good words to live by in everyday life, but they are considered vital in architecture. The critics are not out to make your life miserable, but if you act as though your project deserves it, you are more likely to get a bad crit.
That may sound simple, but I cannot count how many times I have seen my peers anxiously wringing their hands or defensively crossing their arms. When you look distressed, it causes the critics to think that there MUST be something wrong with your project and that they should be on the look out more so than usual. If when presenting you realize something is incorrect, just glaze over it. DO NOT abruptly stop, say “oh -expletive-” or let your eyes get big in worry. When awaiting their comments, stop rocking on the balls of your feet or stuffing your hands in your pocket. Stand up straight. Quit with the “I don’t knows” and “kindas” and prepare ahead of time so you DO know. Look alert. You just spent a million hours on this, and you did the best you could do. Now act the part.
Don’t you hate it when you work day and night over 24 hours on a project only to be told that it sucks? Ever feel that you’re studio teacher is just spouting crap and you can never understand or utilize what they say? Even architecture majors have those days when nothing comes out right or you go in circles and circles between rejected ideas and concepts. I know I’ve had those days where I’m just sitting in front of my computer screen hoping for something to show up or scream “Do This!! Do This!!” Hours go by and at the end of the day you are still at the starting block.
Times like these you could be a lone wolf and hope to grind through the process until something good starts to show itself but it is better to ask around and get input from other sources. You see that person sitting to your right? (or to the left for you guys on the end) This would be a great time to ask and take the time to do a mini-crit between classmates. I know many times where just talking with a classmate and throwing out ideas and possible solutions would lead your project into the direction that you are hoping for.
Even architects get designer block once in a while. What are classmates for anyways? A person that puts your project to shame? A person that you are competing against for the higher grade in the curve? I feel sorry for people that see their classmates in this light but they can also be your saving light, the person that can give positive feedback that will help you in the long run. Whenever you get stuck, ask around and who knows you might get the solution that even you were looking for.