Architecture students nurture tight-knit community

When architecture major Marina Filiba ’15 needed a can of spray paint for a project at 3:30 a.m. one morning, she had little trouble finding one — a fellow architecture student came to her rescue.

Using platforms such as Tumblr, GroupMe and EliList, the undergraduate architecture community at Yale has no problem keeping in touch. Architecture students interviewed said that the intensity of the major’s academic curriculum combined with its small size has brought them together in a way unusual for larger majors. Comprised of 35 upperclassmen, the architecture major also requires students to spend a lot of time in the studio — a space on the seventh floor of the Loria Center that architecture students share. Desks are positioned next to each other, maximizing interaction among the students.

“We all care about each other a lot,” said Bobby de la Rosa ’15, a student in the major. “We worry about the status of someone else’s project. There’s so much concern for the entire group.”

A yearlong studio course titled “Methods and Form in Architecture” is a requirement for all junior architecture majors and includes weekly projects and critiques given by professors in front of the entire class. As students work on their projects in the same studio, they have the chance to see each other’s projects as they evolve. But even though the program requires an unusually demanding time commitment, students in the major describe the atmosphere in the studio as more collaborative than cutthroat. Filiba said she thinks that once students begin the major, they spend more time together in the studio than they do anywhere else on campus, which she said contributes to the community’s tight-knit atmosphere.

Josh Isackson ’15 said students also influence each other in the creative process, learning from each other’s diverse design styles. Han Myo Oo ’15 described one assignment in which each student designed a room and then had to build a house modeled after another student’s room.

Students interviewed said graduate students in architecture also take part in their community. Oo said the graduate students who work as teaching assistants often bring food and coffee from nearby Willoughby’s to the seventh floor of Loria.

“You don’t find any other major where you can talk to a TA at 2:30 in the morning,” Filiba said.

Part of the major’s unique setup — which further strengthens the bond between students — is the fact that their projects are critiqued by professors in front of all their classmates on a weekly basis. As a result, Oo said, students learn to handle criticism together. Because of this tradition, the architecture community enjoys a level of intellectual maturity more common to graduate programs, Filiba said. Architecture professor Karla Britton said that her consistently small class size allows students greater freedom when developing research projects.

Students who intend to major in architecture are accepted to the program in the fall of their junior year.

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