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MT: Thesis is essentially about proof. And in a lot of other programs it's not always clear where the proof lies in design thesis, you know, and what actual research is. I mean, is it making, is it reading, is it, you know, the fabrication of materials? Is it the fabrication, the invention of a story that you intend to prove? It's not always so clear. What it tends to be is the, kind of, fabrication of an architectural program and its justification in its physical manifestation. But it doesn't always seem to be an argued point of why.

 

TH: Everyone thinks of thesis as, sort of, the culminating project that, sort of, takes all of the skills in design - design skills that you've accumulated over five years and puts them together. But he [my advisor] took a different tact. He said that it is that, of course because it's the point of having a thesis is to sort of bring, to tie things together. But he saw it as, sort of, a personal mission statement as to what you wanted to do in architecture or what you thought you wanted to do just starting out in the profession after you left school.

 

It's not just coming up with an answer or a way to deal with a problem. It's coming up with the problem. So it's, like, it's taking it a step further. You have to define the issues at the root of why a building is constructed or why a space has changed in the world in general. And so, I think, that's the step further that thesis takes.

 

YE: I understand a design thesis as a larger question that I want to deal with or... the meaning was much more than the physical meaning, somehow. It had a larger understanding in the world or an emotional meaning, a psychological, or urban - larger than the actual project itself. And then the project tests tectonically or physically a manifestation of these ideas that I'm trying to deal with.

 

TS: I approached it in terms of having a kind of specific position on something that didn't begin necessarily with architecture as a physical object. The question for me is then, does my position or my belief have any architectural implications because I could assume a position that has no relation to architecture whatsoever. It was a bit of a risk in that it was possible that my belief was not going to relate to architecture.

 

YE: I think the difficulty and the virtue of a design thesis is that you're in charge of a lot to define to yourself. You're defining the question and you're suggesting the structure in which you're dealing with that.

 

LF: Thesis requires clear statements of values, interests and belief. Doing a thesis basically requires that you take a stand on a set of issues or conditions. If you don't do that you'll never come at any set of ideas with any authority.

 

And what this allows you to do is work back and forth between ideas and making thinking and making, making and thinking.

 

I would really like my whole life to be a thesis or I'd like to be doing a thesis throughout my entire life because it really starts to show you where you're at and it's a real testing ground of your abilities, your skills, your interests, your capacities and it allows you to make informed decisions about what your next step is.

 

DM: You have to set the parameters and boundaries and figure out where your field of play is.

 

CR: And there is nobody to blame but yourself.

 

DM: Right. And there is no one to blame. And you can't, you know, in previous years you could say this is a boring program. This is...they picked a terrible site but it's all on you now so...

 

CR: ...but I think it's also, I think really the distinction is probably that question that we were talking about...and that process of exploration for a year of, a sort of, undetermined goal.

 

But I think the less preconceptions you had about where you were going with it, probably you learned from the process of exploring it.

 

DM: The thesis is about, you know, you're trying something and it's...you're taking a risk. And some of the most successful theses are not successful buildings or necessarily good design, you know. You have to try and fail and if that happens then you've definitely learned something.

 

YE: Find a question and then not hesitate too much and just try to answer the question as best I can. No, but, I mean, like, just start an initial move and question everything all the time, but I would find an anchor which is something you can always take something from, you know, some kind of question that would be really helpful and not be afraid to act on it. Then, you can always change you mind but it's much easier after you've done your first drawing.

 

TH: I mean it's not much solace at two in the morning one the first weeks, you know, when you're trying to really look at things. But by the end, it's not really an end. And I liked that idea of thesis is that it's really about starting.

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