Our designs were developed through a semester of biweekly, four-and-a-half hour studio meetings. Once a week we would pin up our work to be critiqued by our professors and classmates, and once a week we would have desk critiques, which are working sessions during which we meet individually with the professors. These are the standard types of studio sessions that form the basis of Penn’s major in Architecture. There are six of these semester-long studios, most worth two credits, which are taken in a particular sequence, and form the core of the major. The studio sequence (and the consequent many hours spent together) fosters a strong sense of camaraderie among architecture students, particularly within one’s studio grade. This is one of my favorite things about Architecture at Penn, which is a community I am proud to be a part of. Last semester’s hours of drawing, cutting, and gluing would have been difficult without the help and companionship of the other twelve ARCH Seniors.
From its very conceptual initial studios, the Architecture major becomes much more closely based in the real world. For us, this means taking into account construction techniques, specificities of site, material properties, and more. Additionally, the projects increase in complexity and scale as we gain seniority. As such, our archives for Anne Tyng are our biggest design achievement to date. The major in Architecture does not have a thesis component, but the highly independent and long-form nature of our projects mean that a thesis is something to which our senior projects might be compared.
At our final critique on December 17, each student presented their design proposal for Anne Tyng’s archive to a panel of internal and visiting critics. We conveyed our ideas through drawings including plans, sections, exploded axonometrics, 3D renderings and conceptual diagrams, as well as meticulously crafted models that included the surrounding buildings. It was, for me, a valuable opportunity to look back on what I had produced that semester and articulate my work to an audience with fresh eyes. The event also served as a fitting celebration of our hard work. Our projects, hung side by side in the Addams Hall Gallery, struck me for their eclecticism, diversity, and complexity. From the same starting point came thirteen very different designs, which spoke of the considerable efforts of my impressive classmates, as well as those of our instructors. Despite (jesting) criticism of my model as “toothy” and the considerable battle against finals fatigue, I left the critique satisfied with my work and its feedback. I spent the semester studying triangles, but left with a body of work that is by no means two-dimensional.