The OpenLab Studio is taught by Kevin Sullivan, Denise Dea, Parke MacDowell and Laurie Booth at Payette, and Robert Dunay and Shelley Martin at Virginia Tech. Read more about the studio here.
Our fourteen students in the OpenLab Studio recently completed a big milestone. A critical point of the semester, the arrival of the midterm gave space for teams to present their unique concepts and spatial explorations.
On the day of the midterm review, our Payette team of mentors—Wesley Schwartz, Xuancheng Zhu, Dane Clark, Sarah Radding, Stephanie Balsam, Kofi Akakpo and Shaun Morris—were joined by Leon Drachman, Susan Blomquist, and Calvin Boyd and Virginia Tech faculty Shelley Martin and Robert Dunay rounded out the jury.
Below are student reflections about this important milestone.
The midterm was a great chance to refine our project and get down to the essence of what we were trying to communicate. Leading up to the midterm, there were a lot of ideas that we had thrown around and we really had to sit down and decide what was important to us. Through drawings, models, and even our project poem, my partner and I carefully thought through how we could most clearly communicate our narrative to a group of critics unfamiliar with our project.
Prior to the midterm, the expression and clarity of our idea lacked representation in the plan, section, and diagram drawings. This influenced us to take a step back and filter decisions to understand what part of our project we wanted to express and how. The critics posed some vital questions that had a large impact on how we perceived and presented our design proposal.
The frantic push towards the midterm was well rewarded with feedback and critique from the jury. It was a great moment when all the groups had their work on the wall, with such a variety and vibrancy; each narrative was brought to life.
Leading up to the midterm, we had a clear overall vision of the project, but had a variety of differing perspectives and ideas on how to accomplish it. With the midterm discussion, we were able to refine those perspectives and get feedback on where to take our project next.
The team at Payette has pushed each of us to challenge our way of design thinking and find confidence in our own work while excelling our skills. This experience has given me a true understanding of what collaborative design means.
It was fascinating to see the different solutions and approaches due to the diversity of our project and sites and programs. The guest's critiques brought unique perspectives that we all needed in our project in order to move forward with clarity. It was extremely fun, thrilling, tough, and chaotic at times, but with the numerous support and resources we received, we can’t wait to keep going with new challenges.
Collaboration can be tricky, and modeling allowed us to form tacit agreements within our project. The midterm models allowed us to reflect on our work and have a better vision for where the project is going.
Through conversations with so many people, it was fascinating to understand what each person noticed in the project. Our models of the building, but also model the important information that is a part of the story outside of the physical building.
The midterm was the first opportunity to see how much everyone has improved in their architectural skills. One great thing about pinning work up on walls is seeing what works well for presentation and graphics and learning from each other how to do new things. The sharing of knowledge made all of our projects stronger.
The immersive firm experience has expanded my imagination for architecture in an abundance of ways. Being in a space where you are pushed to iterate from every perspective and medium enhances the design process, and therefore the expressed design. Because we are seeing our designs in so many different lights, we are forced to make sure each aspect of the design is intentional. The midterm gave me a boost of motivation to see how much further the bounds of my imagination can go while pulling in more elements of the building. I can’t wait to see the growth that the final presentation will showcase.
The truly incredible aspect of this program is the way it positions you to bridge the skills of design school to the profession. This semester Payette has challenged me to imagine as a student and present as a professional. The challenge of the semester is to walk across that bridge one foot in front of the other knowing what lays behind and ahead.