LF: I think all design studios should have a thesis throughout their education. I think the culmination, perhaps, is overstated at schools. But I think what's important is the thesis is the first time it's self-directed. And that is, as a professional, you know, you can imagine multiple work environments where if you want to investigate things critically, like you do in a thesis, it's going to have to come from you. It's not necessarily going to come from your client or from any other source. You will have to create a sort of ethic of research and an ethic of critical investigation.


JC: But, I guess what I would be interested in is if not thesis, then what? Like what are the alternatives? Is there a better way to test the architectural education or to allow a relatively young architect to go out in the world? What process is it that would allow them to be actively and critically engaged in what they do for the rest of their lives?


TS: I think thesis is a very specific thing. And it's necessary to explore problems in a discipline. I mean all disciplines you have people propose a thesis. Otherwise nothing is questioned.


CR: I think you can make a case for not being ready for it as a fifth year undergraduate but that's why you learn so much from it because you're drowning in it.


Like, looking at it now, I could say, you know, if I could start all over I could do so...there's so much I could do but that's the point. Like that means you learned something from it, I think.


I probably learned a lot more about doing this kind of research than what I actually learned from the research itself.


DM: Yeah, I think that's probably one of the biggest things that thesis is about. It's not about the topic of a thesis but the thesis...how to do a project.


YE: Like in most studios except for thesis project you get your limits pre-assigned to you. And a thesis project is a limitless architecture.


So you could fly maybe higher than you would if you had limits and maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe we need to fly once in a while. So I think that's, for me, the issue that he is raising, that the real world has limits and there is not a reason to have a no limit project.


MT: It's about stakes and how you really, how much you're really invested in thesis. If everyone is asked to do it, if everyone is required to do it you are not going to get very interesting work unless you have a really unique group of students. And I'm not saying students are bad, you know, generally. But what I am saying that if it is a requirement, in a way, I agree with him. That would be wonderful if it was banned. Because I would do it all the more, you know. I would be that much more invested in doing it.


...the rebirth of the group studio project, whereby the critic comes in and the students work on their studio master's project. In other words, Greg comes in and says I'm thinking about this idea and I want you guys to do the research for me, so to speak, which is in some ways the professionalization of education, architectural education. It just...smacks of it. And I'm not saying that's necessarily bad but I don't think anyone is really questioning that, you know. What do the students really feel? What if they don't wish to do that work?


TH: Through the process and I don't know that this was across the board but some of the issues that came up really, you know, caught fire within people and people became very compassionate about their building or about a social issue that they were studying through their building.


It's one of those things where it's a project, that it's not something given to you and it's not...you're not given a sort of list of constraints or program thing. It was something you really had to think about and put together. So in that case I see it...I don't know. I saw the beginning of our thesis project was all about thinking and writing a little bit. It wasn't about just designing a building. Where I think other competition studios and maybe even the studio that precedes thesis, for some students, is still about a problem that someone else sets out for you, not a problem that you want to look at yourself. So the personal exploration aspect of thesis, I think, was really important.


DM: My thesis was, like, a discovery of complexity of architecture. And I discovered that that's what I like about it and that's why I'm drawn to it.


I like buildings. And I, like, you know, I don't want to have that freedom. I want to have tough...


CR: I want to have all the rules.


DM: Yeah, I want to have all the rules. That's what my thesis ended up being about was that there were so many rules that I couldn't possibly follow any of them.


CR: You realize, like, how much you've learned in five years, for one thing.


DM: Yeah.


CR: ...things that you didn't even know you knew or things that you'd never hear yourself saying. Like I realized how much I was interested in, you know, materiality and light and, you know, form and things that I sort of de-emphasized for myself in a lot of ways but that really are architecture.


TS: As specific as the discipline is in terms of its technical dimension, its physicality, its theory, as specific as it is, it is an art also. It is very much a human discipline and it has become, or it is becoming, my way of understanding the world.


JC: A thesis achieves value soley through its process and through the engagement of doing a thesis. Ultimately, our primary interest is in exploring ideas and architecture and urban design are merely our media for doing so.


LF: If you're not going to use your thesis to expand our knowledge or our interest in the endeavor of architecture itself, go to law school.

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