The past two days have had the most architecture crammed into them than the entire past two months I've been here. Yet this was the side of architecture I've been wanting to experience for a long time now, and I think it's funny that it took me to move to France to be able to participate in this. As Adam mentioned in the last post, the students in Versailles presented their semester projects with both of us, along with the two design professors, and a few visiting architects as the judging panel. So fun to finally be on the other side of the fence making comments and suggestions. But wow, talk about an exhausting day for a reviewer! Presentations went on all morning through early evening as each of us continually replenished our caffeine intake to be able to keep focus on each project. It really is a whole game in itself trying to understand the presentation, piecing together the meaning of their drawings, then coming up with something helpful, thoughtful, unvague, and architectural to say. Then to start all over again with an open mind for the next project a half hour later. The worst is when one project shines, then the one following is more lacking. Those, obviously, are the ones that need the best insight, not a slap on the wrists, but putting together a cohesive, concise critique in response to something like this, I suppose, is more of a challenge for us as designers. A good challenge to keep us on our toes.
One of the the guest reviewers we met is from Catholic University in DC and has his own group of students in Paris. At the end of the evening, he invited us to come to his reviews the following night, so we thought, what the hell. Considering we'd just met and we'd heard his setup for reviews was much more casual, we came under the impression that we'd be there to more or less enjoy the wine and cheese and just hang out in the audience. Little did we know, upon arrival, the professor introduced us along with about 20 other guest reviewers (for only 8 students?!) and split us into teams to go student by student hearing their presentation....then even grading them. So for an entire evening, Adam and I did the whole review thing again, this time on a more intimate level. We thought this method was actually great practice for the students to have to repeat their presentation over and over again, and we thought it was great for us since this time, we got to review with wine in hand. You can tell just how much mr. engineer Adam was getting into this. Here's one of his wine-induced metaphors:
"If your sandbox didn't have the box, then you'd simply be left with a beach...."
I don't even remember what he was referring to at this point. Perhaps something about giving your design rules and boundaries to alleviate sheer nonsensical chaos? On the way home, we simply had to laugh at ourselves with all our sheer 'BS' we probably spat out that night.