All students at their final review hope they are saying valuable things that resonate with their audience. This hope is indicative of the struggle with relevance that every architect student seems to carry around under their arm. Who is listening? Is what I’m saying worth it? Is my work valuable? The review is a kind of real-time feedback mechanism that tickles this instinct quite well. An affirmative head nod from a fellow student is often enough to sustain one’s impression of themselves for some time. The anxiety over impressing one’s audience fades over time–the more reviews one sits on, the less nervous one is, of course – but the pleasure it brings seems to live on in perpetuity.
The final review is the well-known, cautiously anticipated endgame for the student of architecture. In many ways architecture review culture mirrors the discipline itself – it sits somewhere between the unconstrained, wildly productive studio art review where students say nothing and the work speaks for itself, and the controlled, disciplinary thesis defence where the saying of things is as important as anything. It’s somewhere between being creative and discursive, between intuition and method, between beautiful and substantial.
I revel in the potential of this weird moment. It is the most exciting, most valuable, most vibrant moment in design education, and many of the reasons that make it bad are precisely the reasons that make it good. BUT… this depends entirely on one’s approach. In my opinion there are many things students can do: sleep more, work harder, assume less, fail more… and forget about right answers. Instead, see how fast and wild the conversation can go and, as a bonus, how many disagreements you can have.