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TH: I had classmates who had known what they were doing for thesis for years. They knew since they were freshman and saw these fifth years, like what they wanted to do. And a lot of those people were very building focused because they wanted to study a typology or something. And then there were people like myself who really...there were, sort of, some issues that I wanted to look at but other than that I wasn't totally tied down to a site or building or anything.

 

AM: You have to have a statement of intent at the end of your second semester or the year, semester prior to going into the year of thesis. You have to have a sort of statement of intent. She [the thesis advisor] looks at it, talks to you about it. And then, the following semester there's a course. It's called, “architecture research”. And it's not actually titled, “thesis”. And in that class we have certain requirements throughout the semester weekly, either abstract statements or getting liaisons throughout the entire university, having people come in outside the school of architecture to help. There's also weekly texts to read. We read other thesis, more professional work like Rem Koolhaus and Delirious New York.

 

MT: I put together a reading list. I thought about what I was doing and where I thought I was going and built a reading list from that and spent the summer instead of working, reading and trying to fill out those ideas so that I felt a little more prepared when we got to our, what was essentially a thesis prep course. What I realized was while it was great that I did it and it didn't necessarily prepare me completely for actively taking a stand, making a statement, building an argument, you still have to do it, you know.

 

LF: One thing that was really helpful is I looked back on my own work throughout school and even before school and made a portfolio that tried to be organized around certain themes or interests in the work that may have been latent, that I might have not actively been engaged in. But I tried to identify trajectories that were running through, crossing the boundaries between studios, between projects and make a portfolio that way. And that was really helpful, both in identifying what my interests had been and where, kind of, the holes were.

 

YE: I looked through my work and tried to figure out what I'm...what's the line going though the work.

 

TH: Go find a map and sort of see where you are. And so the first round of things which was just, sort of, getting a bearing. Once I had picked out the brownfield site I wanted to study, it was just a matter of finding out more about it like learning about its history, the history of the neighborhood that it surrounds, or the neighborhoods, in this case, the history of the city.

 

It's a process. If you don't have something that's so defined or it's a competition where you have the material, you have to, you know, that's part of the process is searching out the things you need to learn about – your site and your issue.

 

YE: Go into the depth of what it means and just try to do it as academically and deep as I can that is not predictable.

 

LF: A friend of mine and I did something that we called, “thesis pages”, an uninspiring name. But each week we would write about our project, collect images either from work that we'd actually done, images of precedents, things we were looking at, thinking about, and pass them onto the other person. In the mid-week we'd exchange them and then respond in writing to the other person's project, finding images for them. So you became, again, intimately tied into another person's project. But also you were kind of responsible to something that was greater than yourself. And you were forced to really be critical of your ideas and express them clearly. And so, it just sped up the actual development and process of the thesis in a productive way.

 

One thing that we, both Jonathon and I did, was a sort of one-week charrette at the very beginning of the semester. You know, everyone is still getting their desks and everyone is still moving in and you want to start strong. So we both set deadlines and just said I'm going to produce these certain numbers of things in one week. And that really liberates you. It gets things going. You have something that you can show someone and it's not just all in your head anymore.

 

AM: Whatever you do, you know, stick to your guns and be thorough about it. And if it's against the, sort of, mainstream, whatever is going on in architecture right now, don't be afraid of it.

 

I notice myself more blurting out the absurd, and sort of the weird ideas and then quickly saying it's not a good idea, but then the next time it's just a little closer to it.

 

YE: You need a belief. I think another strong belief that you need to have – a belief in my work or in your own decisions that you take – and the strength to actually stand alone and be able to take these decisions. Because when you go into thesis there's no right or wrong – there's no wrong project you can choose. There is no right project you can choose.

 

LF: Get a maid or at least a boyfriend who can make models...which is just an excellent piece of advice, I have to say.

 

Just make your daily life as smooth as possible. Have people cook for you. Have people do your laundry. If you can swing it just get that done because you really want to be during the thesis focused on your work – doing your work and then periodically doing some fun.

 

Remember to take care of yourself. We all know architectural education can be extreme and you need to make sure that you're not gonna to go over the edge.

 

MT: And if you read my thesis statement, you know, in the summer before we started it, you would have never realized that I ever would have come to this kind of conclusion. It's a strange and amazing way of kind of percolating, you know, kind of blowing these ideas up to the surface to see what you get.

 

LF: You know, there's lots of build up to it. There's seemingly, you know, a lot of pressure. And it's...you know, all eyes are on you and it's very hard just to get going. And really all you gotta do is just start. It sounds too simple but in truth, I think, it matters very little where you actually begin and all that matters is where you end up. And you get that by doing things. And one thing will lead to another.

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