So you go to Kent State for Architecture. You go to the school with sub-par facilities. You go to the school where our permanent studio situation (3 poorly designed spaces around the campus) is what most schools do when they’re renovating their main architecture building. You go to the school where plotting at Kinko’s is a pretty reasonable economic choice. You go to the school where you pay for the person to click the button so that you can print something or lasercut something. Then you get to pay for the time you spend watching. You go to the school where not having a wood shop is so out of the question, it isn’t even thought of as a deficiency. You go to the school where an acceptable method of getting into the studio you want is to just wait until all of the sections are full and then have Jane force-add you. You go to the school that has absolutely no pinup space. You go to the school where the lecture series is typically a surprise. You go to the school where it’s not uncommon to only have TA’s for studio until you get to third year…and you go to a school where tenured professors are typically the ones not to take (with few exceptions) and their research is a mystery (also with few exceptions).

So the CAED lacks some things.

Now that that’s over with…

Just think of what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here. You can do whatever you want. My years at Kent have made me realize that the strength of this education lies in personal accountability. Complaining does nothing. Speaking up is rarely productive. But it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Do things.

Lecture series sucks? Make it happen. Find money, get money, get people, make posters, do it. The school will never help you so don’t cry about it; just get it done (this was seemingly so, until this year). Think the print room hours suck? The school won’t change them; make friends with the employees and facilitate favors when you’re in a pinch. Woodshop? Take sculpture so you can use the fine arts building’s. Or bring in your own saw. This whole mess becomes guerilla studio. After all: you want to be here. You like architecture. What more do you need? The guidance of a few who care, friends who want to help, and your own ambitious can take you to some amazing places. For a school with a long list of physical deficiencies and little to no legitimate leadership in the last decade, we’ve sent students to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Penn, The Cooper Union, RISD, Sci-Arc, IIT, OSU, Washington St. Louis, Pratt, USC…and quite a few of our graduates work for some legitimate firms that aren’t in Akron, Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Kent prepares you. You can get “out.”

In a way, we as students can feel abused by the bureaucracy, and it can be tough to deal with the self-esteem-cutting bullshit that we encounter from faculty and fellow students. It seems that everybody talks down about what we do, what we can’t do, and what we produce. Reviewers come in and are generally positive, but our environment breeds this “I’m not good enough” sentiment. The only people who seem to be proud of KSU architecture are the ‘golf’ type: male, graduated in the 90’s, working as project managers for second-rate healthcare firms and are ‘almost done’ with the ARE after 15 years of working in the field. Not quite the progressive outlook I hope for.

This is where we come in. Kent’s been in a transition period as long as I’ve been here, so let’s take it where we want it to go. We need to quit it with our sense of mediocrity and stand up for our school. We need to be accountable for the education we receive. Kent is a great school for architecture, not because we’re a number on a list, but because we, the students, are hardworking, smart, competitive students who love architecture. Apply to big schools. Apply to big firms. Go out on a limb and explore architecture in the manner you see fit. Never before, has it been truer that you can be anything you want to be and nobody is holding you back.

On your mark.

Get set.



dru mckeown said...

I found this to be one of the best student to student comments I have read yet, especially because (fittingly) it lacks the overwhelming cynicism that it is currently difficult to avoid. Kent is a fine school, there is good work being done and there are some fine students coming out but like anything it doesn't matter where one is prepared or even how but what one does with the tools one has accumulated.

I completely agree with the sentiment that one has to fight to do what will make one happy but one has to remember that it is enjoying the journey (trials and tribulations included) that make life worth living. There is this hidden potential that one must be comfortable achieving, perhaps even without a sense of validity.

Make no mistake, the abhorrent lack of validity from contemporaries drains all sense of actionable worth, it makes it difficult to justify the hard work and it weakens the intellectual rigor of problem solving. It is worse to have no response then to have one that is simply mere contrarian response to one’s belief; for after a while if one is not asked to justify one’s ideas they become merely meandering thoughts, stripped of any relevance or deep meaning.

So as students (or any designers) go forward into the world, it is easy to look at the cultural hot zones and realize immediately the value in relocating to these centers, or finding jobs where fame and infamy bring discourse, however it should be realized to be just as easy to make one’s own voice heard if one is willing to stick to one’s convictions, react and learn (and alter those convictions) as necessary and follow through on one’s ideals. One may be forced to work long, unforgivable hours, mired in argument and struggle; however the sampling of success becomes that much sweeter. There are times when one may find solace and strength in numbers, and there may be victory and fame snatched from one’s grasp by other’s claiming it for their own, but there is nobility to fighting for one’s dreams that does not go unrecognized.

And to whom else shall you be measured if not by your own heart?

micah said...


cue inspirational music (potentially m83) at "go".