Rapson Hall U of MN Arch School
In my last post i mentioned a great field trip i had to the univ of mn the other day.
Besides being an honor, it was fun to sit as a critic again. This time for some grad students’ final projects in an arch design studio.
it was like taking a class for me too since the fellow jury members were all so impressive.  i wondered if the students really appreciated their presence…
the jury?
bruno franck is a structural engineer who has worked with folks like david salmela and vincent james.  he framed things in fascinating ways that i’m not used to considering.
dale mulfinger is one of the founders of the great sala architects, is an author and a teacher.  he’s absolutely brilliant and a pleasure to listen to.
bob ganser is the instructor of the class.  he’s also one of the founders of citydeskstudio a great minneapolis firm.
gayla lindt is an architect and teacher who recently collaborated on a book about the great ralph rapson called “come closer, i have a story to tell”.
pretty good bunch huh?
and the students were great too…
all year they’ve been working on designs for a train/commuter rail station to be located at the new twins stadium in downtown minneapolis.
they’d all been up for days working on their models and renderings…
i think they were really glad to be done.
some of the work really stood out…
there was something cool about every single students project too…
in the below photo, dale mulfinger talks about the work in the above photo…
he’s talking about how, as upright walking creatures, we feel some tension when certain angles are present in structures that make them feel as though they may fall over. (if you look closely in the background, bruno franck has slipped on his sunglasses due to brightness.  this coupled with his accent and scarf made him seem almost impossibley cool to me.  if i was a student?  i’d have been so, so intimidated)
a few of the students work drew some pretty serious praise from the jury…
this students work was surprisingly original, inspired and inventive.  it’s fun to wonder where she’ll end up.i responded by rambling about weaving, math, music and the artist xylor jane’s work.
they all looked at me with what appeared to be a polite confusion.
some of the projects were so sophisticated too.
a couple students really reminded me of myself when i was young…
listening to criticism was very hard for me…
i was impressed with how well they all took it.
i stayed pretty quiet and let others do most of the talking. (rare for me)
so many creative ideas and young energy.
it was great to have watched them develop over the last few months as this was my third visit to the class.i wondered how you would go about actually assigning a letter grade to them…
me?  mostly i talked to them about ideas as stories, buildings as symphonies, material choices for them… as language is to the writer, cinematic, epic gestures…
i wanted them to believe in something even if it was wrong to the jury.
i tried to hint about developing the kind of mindset that might enable them to say, “I pick up my pen and a building appears” someday.
i worry that they’ll be met with reality before they’ve had enough time to disregard it.
so i left them, feeling inspired and thoughtful.
the building was deserted and i liked looking at the stairs.
stairs everywhere.
six flights more to my car…
as always after a field trip, everything looked a little cooler than usual…
and i left the school thinking again about letter grades.
and how could you not…guess which level i was parked on.