Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Notre Dame Design Review

For anybody who really knows me, especially for those who knew me when I was applying to and deciding where to go for college, it's no big secret that Notre Dame was by far my number one choice. Of course I didn't make it, and I love Catholic, but when we recently had the chance to attend a design review for the architecture program for Notre Dame in Rome I couldn't pass it up. It was a chance for me to compare what I wanted with what I have, and I am extremely happy with what I have.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the review was that their drawings were pinned up with colored pins, multiple different colors on the same sheet of paper, uh-oh. The first thing we learned when pinning up at Catholic is to use grey, white, or clear pins, anything else is distracting and takes away from the drawings. I hadn't really seen people use colored pins because this rule was drilled into us early on freshman year, and let me tell you, it is extremely distracting. After looking passed the pins I tried to focus on the drawings, which were absolutely incredible. They were all hard lined, so they have an advantage on us (although I enjoy freehanding this semster, especially with the light tables) but they were still pencil on paper. Almost all of them also had one or two drawings done in water color, and they were done phenominally. The drawings were really where the professionalism that we're taught at Catholic seemed to end though. I don't mean that in a bad way, because there wasn't a lack of professionalism from Notre Dame, it just seemed that their focus was obviously on design and drawing quality and exactness rather than presentation. There seemed to be no or very little thought behind layout of sheets. Drawings were placed randomly and they were often moving back and forth between sheets. There was no progression through the presentation and nothing on the boards lined up, it seemed as if they just stuck drawings wherever they could fit them. Which was several places, because there was a good deal of white space. They were not overly cramped for space either yet they pinned up like they were. Boards were not lined up or matching on the wall, they seemed scattered, and people even pinned up in corners so that half of their presentation was perpendicular to the other half.

The quality of work was exceptional at Notre Dame, but the quality of presentation was certainly lacking, and I, along with the other Catholic students, noticed it right away. We've been taught to take pride in our work, whatever we produce, and to present it like we are presenting to clients, like we are trying to convince them to build this. That mentality was certainly lacking at Notre Dame, it seemed as if they were presenting to architects for a grade. When you can focus on the drawings and the design, it is easy to look passed a poor presentation and focus on what is produced. The idea behind the mentality at Catholic is that most clients know nothing to very little about architecture and the design process, so they have a hard time looking passed a poor presentation because it comes off as a lack of professionalism to them. I do not mean to bash Notre Dame because their work was phenomenal, I was extremely impressed with that and I am sure, if I had the opportunity to go there, I would have loved every day of it, but I am extremely happy with being at Catholic and extremely happy with the education I've received, and I think what I have is better for me than what I wanted.

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