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!