architecture… does it have limits?

credit: instagram @themichiganarchitect

Architecture, the most broad discipline by far… does it have limits?
I certainly believe so, despite my passion for the field.
Architecture is limited between the fight form has with function; architecture is the result of the compromise of these two components.
Architecture is limited by technology. Ever since there was software created, more wild shapes have been encouraged in design. Back in the day, without such powerful software available, past architects instead had to rely on their genius mind power and artistic talent to produce the blueprints for their designs, Whereas today, we have people who care just barely draw, who can turn to software drawing to save themselves from being fried at their next review, and it also allows them to turn the model round and round virtually to literally see how all the elements of their design go together.
The perception of architecture is also limited. As an architecture student, I am constantly assigned projects that question my design abilities, but also must fit to a certain narrative. Yes, we get our own options to interpret the prompts for ourselves, and create our own “solutions” to the presented objectives, however I always question the necessities of the narrative portion. In our projects, I believe the narrative (the story or point we want to demonstrate through our design) simply serves to spur our designing. We think up a storm, to convey a meaning behind our project designs; sometimes we are successful, other times not so much.
What I’ve always found interesting about that is, the narrative is often times the reason for headache and heartache for us and our projects… however, hypothetically speaking, if these projects were to be real proposals in the actual world, I doubt anyone would be able to i(or let alone have the interest to) interpret our narratives behind the design. It’s like, why spend so much time crafting a story, that audiences cannot even see, or do not even wish to see? Perhaps, the reality is that these narratives exist just to capture ourselves as designers to have a fascination and passion for the project, which would in turn power our hard work and determination to do our best in the project, and designing it too.

Last paradise

Fall break… it’s finally here, ya’ll!

We wolverines have been dying from the start of the school year with the conflicts between our ambitions, future aspirations, interpersonal relationships, and academic adjustments. Or at least, this is what most wolverines would say honestly, if you asked them.

We are toiling daily, barely living our lives here. Classes are a challenge, maybe feeling increasingly less so if we are adjusting appropriately, yet our hygiene suffers. We barely exercise, let alone shower, we get sick more easily, and (if lucky) eat a meal a day.  But I suppose this description of college life is different depending on who you ask; but generally everyone here is busy ALL the time, no joke.

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So, break is here. Chill guys!

Use this to actually take a break from everything; you’ll need this time to relax and refuel, as it is necessary to keep us from burning up from over-exhaustion. Yeah… sounds cliche, but things are cliche for a reason; typically because they’re true.

So, drop your homework, grab your buddies, travel, GET OUT AND HAVE FUN! LIVE YOUR LIFE! Even if that means staying indoors and marathon-ing Neflix shows, just do anything that you enjoy doing and have been abandoning for school for such a long time. Even if you’re a workaholic and decide to drop all of your responsibilities for just a few hours, hey, at least it’s still a few hours’ work of refreshing your own mind. Like the saying goes, “Time enjoyed is not time wasted.”

 

Designers and Dreamers: Stress, Ability, and Capability

taubman courtyard lights at sunset
photographed exclusively by @themichiganarchitect instagram

Apparently it has only been a month since college had first started back up. Yet, how do I feel so beat already? Is it me? Or is it my habits that are the issue?

I have spoken to many classmates and friends, and they’ve all given various responses as to how they feel at this moment of the semester. Some are super chill, living their life as they’d like to. Others are just barely scraping by, rarely showering, eating, and (if they’re lucky) sleeping. So, what’s the diversity from? Do some people just work or study more efficiently or something that others, or is it just mostly because of the different scheduling due to major and types of classes?

Ya’ll know I’m gonna say that it will most likely be a mixture of both.

Like they all say, “everyone is different.” Even with the academic motivations, skills, and level of stress.

Of course, as college students, we are constantly learning from every experience of our everyday lives, and our brains are still developing, constantly rewiring new skills, and deleting past ones sometimes.

So, “what’s the point of this post?” you may ask.

Well, it’s more of an opinionated informative piece on this topic.

Sometimes, it is the most simple, mundane things in life that we should be most interested in taking time to improve. Not necessarily asking you to re-learn how to brush your teeth (though I’m sure it would be useful with the amount of cavities and oral issues college students commonly have), but maybe taking time to re-evaluate ourselves fairly. I was once asked by a friend of mine, “How do you evaluate your self worth? Is it through your work? Or is it through your aspirations for your work? (work as in course assignments)?” I’d had a hard time putting together the words of my thought at the time, but as short as the question was, it holds a lot of weight and definition in life.

As an architecture student, we are constantly taught how to re-see spaces, tap into our imaginations, and look deepx

into mundane topics for the sparks of our project ideas. As great as that may be for our creativity and model-making skills, how does this system of education support our own mental worth? I suppose it is similar in other fields as well, but I feel that at least in design (art and architecture and anything in that general sector), lessons can be easily taken to the heart.

Our projects are born from our minds, our thoughts, and may even pull from memories for structure. Furthermore, our projects are essentially our life during the semester; if I’m not in bed or showering, I am literally always at my studio cranking out the construction of my models. This accounts for the stress, and constant anxiety around grades and competition. In studio, surrounded by countless talented folks working just as hard as you, it really is hard not to look around and see a battlefield. (Not to mention, there are moments of literal bloodshed when you find your exacto knife had slipped right into your skin at 2am.) And, for those who struggle with even just formulating an idea, or the lack of knowledge of construction techniques, studio sometimes feels like a place to prove yourself, and create your self worth through educational struggles. But, the best part is yet to come. So, you’ve spent the whole week being antisocial, rarely eating, scarcely sleeping, or even showering, and your project is finally finished, yay! Now, it’s time for the review, where your professor and a few guest critics come and evaluate your work and give feedback publicly after you present. For many, reviews make or break the ego. If it goes well, our ego soars, we feel at the top of the world. If the review is mortifying, we feel embarrassed, and worthless, and like a total failure for “wasting” so much time and hope during the construction process. Then, the next project is assigned, and we gotta do it all over again…

The point is, life does suck sometimes, and we are all allowed to set our own standards and have our own habits. It’s just that I wanted to say that we need to still recognize our own strengths through all of this, and NOT place our self worth into our works’ products. Just because you worked hard, doesn’t guarantee you will score an A in the course, or show that you’re the most intelligent or talented or something. Working hard builds character, an essential pillar to being a person. Learning slowly but surely transports you from crappy to excellent. Likewise, your portfolio, which I am sure that you definitely took the time and effort to make it look presentable and illustrate your best works, is definitely not an accurate representation of who you are; a portfolio is simply a visual attempt for employers to get to know you better in terms of your personality and style and technical abilities. With that said, just try your best to create your portfolio, and I want to remind yourself that the only person you should be battling in this process is yourself. Don’t look at your neighbor’s project, look at your own, and learn off of your mistakes. It is not fair to compare yourself to others when you do not share experience in your backgrounds, and then try to compare your results.

To all my fellow Wolverine designers and dreamers out there, keep shooting for the stars, and I know you’ll land there 🙂

Love and Relationships

Love is an interesting matter.

Love, a simple, four-lettered word.

Yet, it has been the reason why wars have been fought between people, sometimes even leaving them forever wounded.

Love, when we have it, can heal past wounds, and make us feel amazing.

Yet, for those seeking it, it is torture. It is something several people yearn for, yet sometimes cannot obtain, or is obtained through immense struggle.

Love is powerful. Love is dangerous. Love is reckless.

Here is a true love story; one inspired by someone close to me.

A girl fell in love with a boy. They stayed together for six months. He changed. He fell out of love. He was determined to break up with her. She cried. She begged for a second chance, wishing she could change her “flaws.” He was stubborn at first, but then eventually gave in. She had him agree that they would take a break: hit the pause button for the summer.

One month passed. The girl missed the boy more than ever. She reached out to him, yearning his warmth. She sent a letter, apologizing hundreds of times for her “flaws,” hoping he would understand, and agree with a now-clear mind. He responded awhile later, cold as winter. She cried. Another month passed. The girl still awaited for his letter, wishing he would initiate some warmth. The letter never came. Then the third month passed. The girl grew sad, and also angry. She questioned her flaws, asking why they were called flaws. The girl then became a woman, as she finally understood that man was not for her. She now understood those “flaws” were what made her herself, and she was no longer ashamed of herself. Instead, she learned that they were her wings; wings that would enable her to find a real lover.

Her heart once broken, the girl, now a woman, carefully spread her wings and flew lowly, watching the horizon. So many men, yet none of them with the wings she desired. Time passed. She once looked back, wondering if maybe she should just try to get back with the man before… but then turned away from the idea, wincing at the pains he’d caused her.

The woman carefully cradled her wings, now knowing their newfound value, and set out to search for the One.

One day, she found him. and he found her. They met up. The woman found herself glowing in warmth she’d never felt before, and for once in a long time, she was happy. The man smiled at her, laughed with her, he embraced her wings with his. She felt safe with him. She felt sure of him. She no longer had thoughts of the shame her wings had once given her. She knew she had found love this time; a shared love.

Seven months later, the woman dropped her journal. And as she bent to retrieve it, she saw a glimpse of a book that she’d made a long time ago. She realized that she’d forgotten the book she’d meant to give the boy. She picked it up, and brushed the dust off the binding. She untied the ribbon and began to read the book, curious to see what she’d written before.

She read the book, from the first word, to the last period. She did not cry. Rather, she embraced it, her past. She knew it had given her strength, and had lead her to find true love.

summertime madness

Summer is coming, and I swear I’m not ready for it.

It feels like it was just yesterday when I just got back to Ann Arbor from the summer. The two semesters have flown by so quickly!

A small confession: I may have taken several difficult courses this year, but with so many personal things going on alongside my academics, I feel like I’ve been so overwhelmed with everything that I haven’t quite learned anything academically, though I’d definitely say that I’ve learned other “lessons in life.”

Kudos to the people who have their whole summer and life planned out. My friend is traveling the world basically. Another one is super talented, and though she’s complaining that she hasn’t beard back from anywhere, I doubt she won’t land herself an internship this summer. Another is interning with freaking Amazon, and going to explore Asia with his family! … And then there’s me… totally clueless and lost.

I’ve applied to internships, but nobody has really gotten back to me on that. Not even a “no.”

I’ve applied to jobs, but apparently it’s very competitive…

I will probably just stay home.

What about you? Comment your summer plans!

Money

Money. This thin green paper with some famous person’s face and a number printed onto it. Smaller than a letter-sized sheet of print paper, yet people say it is valuable enough to purchase happiness.
Money is a funny thing. It comes and goes. It goes more easily than it comes. Especially when it comes to college. Need money? Simple, right? Get a job! Yeah… not quite so easy. I was a research assistant for a lab last year, and it was great, I earned a considerable amount of money. This year, I stuck with the lab, but more assistants were hired and now we fight for shifts; money came less easily from that one job. So I looked for another; I applied to many. Heard from none.

Am I really that awful a candidate? So awful that people won’t even respond to my email even to say “no” to me when I ask for an internship?

It makes me realize how much power money has over me, and many other people in the world. Money drives so many of people’s decisions.

It’s the holidays. Need gifts? Spend some money. Don’t got money? Go get some! Yeah… some people are stuck with robbing or thieving.

So, you’re a college student and you finally made some time for fun! Oh right, it’s Ann Arbor, what is fun here? Eating? Drinking? The arcade? How about the mall? Hmmm my wallet’s empty, so are my friends.

You’re moving out of town soon to go home for summer break. Awesome right? Well jeez, I’ve accumulated so much stuff, now I need to get rid of it… But how? Donate it? Hmm I need some money still… Maybe I’ll sell it! ‘$5 New without tag shirt from Macy’s’: customer reaction: ‘Can I get this for $3?’ It’s just a two dollar difference! One discount that I really don’t want to make, but I know I should or else I won’t get any money back for the things I’m selling, and I feel petty for not reducing! But then, shouldn’t the customer also know I’m super broke and need at least some value back for the things I’m selling, as I am already selling at a super low cost? It’s crazy, a dollar, or even two, makes such a large difference in determining how much stuff I can sell.

Money. So small, yet so powerful. It can make me happy, it can make me sad. Is money an antagonist to my story?