Days Off

A few days off before getting back to studying is always nice. But what can you do with those days? Here are just a few suggestions outside of sleeping and nothing at all to enjoy your few days of break:

  • Wharton Start Up Challenge: Friday, April 27th from 12-3 pm one of our own PennDesign students Laura Colagrande will be competing for votes to win crowd favorite in this challenge. A separate panel of judges (investors) will vote on the final winner of the challenge to recieve a cash prize to officially start their own start up! For more information on the challenge see the link:
  • The FitExpo:
  • The Science Festival:
  • West Philly Swingers Performance:
  • Penny Loafers Presents: Flour Power:
  • Improving Health Outcomes Conference:
  • Lake Break:
  • Climate Change Surprise:
  • Spring Exibition Opening:
  • Arbor Day Family Day:
  • Dogs and Barks Tour:
  • Jazz Epistles:


The list is endless really just checkout Scroll down towards the bottom to see a full listing of each days activities. I have only listed available activities from April 27 to April 29.

Enjoy the time off!!

“History” References

Probably one of the most interesting history classes this semester was the last one. Rather than lecture for roughly two hours on a topic most students have not yet begun to understand through the readings, the professor decided to share links to modern day organizations making an impact on architecture.



If you know of any other references of interest comment below. Help others find resources the expand their knowledge of the field of architecture.


Finals Week Pop Ups

Admist all the drawing, modeling, and building going on in the School of Design everywhere else there are pop up surprises of all kinds! Below are a few photos with short descriptions of the many surprises I encountered during the days leading up to the final.

A student major fair! Likely for incoming undergraduate students to begin deciding what they would like to do while at Penn.

Strawberries?!? Not sure but this is the best looking weed I have ever seen show up in sidewalk-building cracks.


The most wonderful storm brewing! Looks almost like a Florida thunderstorm!

A crane truck packing up after finishing work. Entire street blocked off to allow the work crew to move materials and quickly use the machinery necessary.


Student Government brought Federal Doughnuts and coffee to cheer on students working towards the final. Also featured on my Instagram, see link above in menu bar.


Bounce houses, dogs, maybe a cotton candy machine… Looks like summer fun has come at last! Not sure what this was for a Drexel Open House, a Fraternity just having fun, some random Penn Stress Relief Event, no clue but fun to walk by on such a nice day!

Landscape Students setting up an exihibit on interpretive drawings of watery landscapes. Very interesting work and fascinating topic!


Last but not least, one of many drawings on the whiteboards in the computer lab upstairs, can you tell it is finals week? If not check out PennDesignZZZ’s latest posts on Instagram for some classic finals photos.

Finals Finished-ish!

With studio complete there is a little time to relax before the next wave of final exams. However I will worry about those later. For now let’s review the review!

As any final is bound to go pinning up is the hardest part. No matter how early you start there is usually a hitch. This time around it was the walls, too hard to press pins into by hand so a handful of hammers were passed around to ensure no work would be falling off the walls. This was a little trickier than usual only becuase my studios work this semester was mounted onto foam boards. If the pins weren’t equally pressing the foam to the wall one end would pop off and the work would tilt or fall necessitating a restart. In the case of pinning up mounted work, doing so the night before would really be helpful and would relieve the stress of starting late the day of the review. Once all the work was done, of which the most difficult was pinning up not drawing, the review began.

The reviews at Penn typically have seven jurors, not including the professor. The list of studios and jurors, along with the jurors affiliations (work place, organization, etc) is typically released the day before the review and is posted on the door of the Architecture office for everyone to see. Below is a sample of this past reviews juror list.



It is nice to have a list of the jury you will have as you can then research the jurors later, or before if you are so well organized as to finish early. This can help give you a sense of what the juror will be looking for in your project, may comment on, or can allow you to tailor your review to engage a particular topic of dicsussion. Knowing your jury is also helpful should you find that you fit in with a certain juror well. Maybe you love the work they produce or you would like to know more about their principles in design, having researched in advance can help you strike up conversations with them after the review which could lead anywhere.

The reviews typically run about 20 minutes. You will have maybe 5 minutes to present and another 15 mintues for jury comment. Some studios time the reviews to ensure that the review is kept to a 4-5 hour timeframe between 2 pm and 6 pm. Other studios may not, as was the case for one of the reviews which started at 2 pm and finished at 9 pm. Whatever the case I suggest practicing before the presentation and keeping it short and sweet. This time I had a friend, Zoe,  listen to my presentation two times to help me clean it up and ensure that I wouldn’t stumble during the real presentation (which I also did for her later in the day as her presenation neared). This was super helpful as my first version was a trainwreck. After the first one we discussed alternate words to avoid negative connotations, reorganized a few of the points I made to make it more cohesive, and discussed whether to mention certain points or to allow the jury to ask about it should they arrive at a similar conclusion. The second version was much smoother and felt more natural. When I finally presented, though still nervous, I feel that I was able to get across the main points clearly which resulted in a much more interesting coversation rather than a Q&A about the design. The jury brought up intersting points about accessibility, landscape, community politics, temporality, and alternate design strategies to continue to explore the project. I found it a very interesting if not a little sad but excited that some of the strategies mentioned were earlier stages of my project which had been voided after conversations with my professor. It led to a conversation with friends though on how to push back on professor opinion without being rude or stubborn in appearance. One strategy was very appealing, the WHY strategy. A little like a two year old always asking why?, why? , why? to every comment it may seem annoying but then at least a professor will explain themselves. It is then up to you to determine whether their statement provides valid reasoning for the changes suggested or if you will continue to do what you know in your gut you should do.


Overall I feel my review went well and I am happy to say that for the rest of my classmates reviews. After all the hard work what could be better than staying up 6 more hours to celebrate even though you are 3 silent seconds away from falling asleep. This time the entire year went out to Frankfurt Hall in Fishtown to share a few beers, or a cider in my case, some pretzels and sausage, discuss the results of the review while playing games. The professors this time kept to themselves a bit, but a few mingled, and invited students into their ping pong tournament. I was very focused on the mini jenga match in progress in which I learned an incredible skill from Macy who impeccably picked the least structurally dependent member, quickly pulled it out, and then could put it back in and out again. Meanwhile I am poking around trying not to topple the whole thing.



The night finished with a ride home Rebecca who had kindly driven us there and took several of us home saving us the Uber money.

Overall it was a productive review and a lovely evening out with friends!

Professors in Review(s)

Professors are here to guide students through the design process. Along the way the student will learn about the professors style, opinions, technical knowledge, and gain an understanding of architecture through the perspective of the professor.

Should you decide that you are going to follow a professors guidance and suggestions in order to learn from their viewpoint be sure to pursue it wholeheartedly. However remember your decisions are your own as not every professor will admit their influence.

In review, the professor, theoretically, should defend the decisions made by their influence. At the very least if you have designed certain things into your project at the suggestion of the professor that should be declared at the review if it falls under ‘attack’. For example, if you had planed to produce three small sections but the professor mandated a single section perspective to show the entire project, even if it doesn’t show everyone’s work equally well, then that should be made known when the jury decides your perspective is meaningless. Not all professors will do this.

If you, the student, have specifically made decisions on the project or you, the professor, have pushed a student a particular direction then as the professor realize this and own up to your influence! You aren’t taking the blame for project errors but giving context to the decisions made and the dicussions that the project generated. This can then bring up an even richer conversation about decision making in design, style, context, and experiences (in design or walking through existant designs).

It is beyond infuriating to watch students or hear about students, who are well organized, dedicated, inquisitive and have strong projects, get negative or less constructive reviews because certain influences aren’t acknowledge and the conversations which led there are omitted.

It is even worse when a professor, who has pushed a certain direction all semester, has encouraged you all semester, decides to switch sides during the review. Rather than support or aid in giving context to decisions the professor works with the jury to invalidate your project, not even constructively critize.

The reviews aim for constructive criticism. The comments should aid students in continuing to work through the prompt and develop the design. They shouldn’t make students feel that their project is meaningless, irrelivant, just plain wrong, or just not an assest to their portfolio. A student’s portfolio, at least in the field of design, is their one representation of their skills and key to getting work later on.

This is not a rant about my own professor but my experiences with professors in the past and stories of professors from other students. How do you think professors should interact in the final, or any, review?  If you have any stories, positive or not, or feel differently please comment below. I would love to hear what you have to say!