September 3, 2009
Old Guard and Young Guns
At the Center for Architecture, six architects discuss "Architecture Education vs. Professional Practice."
Last night, in the double-height space of the Center for Architecture’s basement, six panelists gathered to discuss the present and future of the profession in a conversation titled “Architecture Education vs. Professional Practice.” The roundtable discussion was inspired by the film Archiculture–a feature-length documentary by Ian Harris, who also moderated the discussion, and David Krantz–and it concluded with its trailer. (A catered party, with a DJ and live band followed.)
Archiculture, which should premier next summer, follows five architecture students during their final semester at school. From the look of it, the film is concerned as much with the personal decisions of its protagonists as the wider implications of those decisions: namely, what it means to practice architecture today, and the successes and shortcomings of academia in preparing students for the professional world. Krantz punctuated the discussion with short clips from the movie, and those snippets helped instigate a conversation that began with the role of technology in the profession and ended with a review of the job market and its implication for new graduates.
On the panel were the architects Billie Tsien and Gregg Pasquarelli, the educators Ted Landsmark and Bill Morrish, and Giancarlo Tramontozzi and Dionysios Neofitidis, two of the students interviewed in the film. The discussion covered some expected territory (Frank Gehry, Revit, green building) and some slightly less familiar ground (politicized architecture–Pasquarelli, his tongue in cheek, proposed an architects’ lobby in Washington). Not surprisingly, Landsmark, the president of Boston Architectural College, and Morrish, the dean of Parsons the New School for Design, both criticized the academic accreditation process and an architectural licensing process they agreed was “obsolete.” Both also outlined what they saw as positive developments in academia, including a trend toward a more humanitarian practice and, Landsmark noted, a move away from an overly theoretical view of the discipline. In citing the recession as an opportunity for young professionals, Pasquarelli ended on a hopeful note for the many young architects in the hall. And, for the pessimists, the open bar lasted through the evening.