Berkeley Connect Architecture students discuss delivering studio presentations

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As Berkeley Connect Architecture students explained to me, the studio is a natural habitat for Architecture students – and an incredibly intense one. All Architecture students are required to take a studio based on their interests, and it is there that they get to apply the design theory they learn in their other classes. “It teaches you the tools and allows you to practice what you learn,” one student told me. Generally at least six hours a week, studio classes require students to present their work on a regular basis. Students go through “pin-ups” every week, where they pin up their work for critique. They also have to present their projects in front of a jury, which is made up of both professors and guest architects. “You have to face a machine-gun of critique,” another student said. These presentations are only 2 minutes, forcing students to cram a lot of information in a small amount of time. Students generally begin with more vague concepts, slowly building towards more specific, concrete projects.

In their Berkeley Connect small-group discussion, students shared tips and stories about their jury experiences. After their mentor Catherine Covey broke them up into smaller groups, students talked about everything from how to build confidence in their work to the techniques they use to guide the critique. As I sat in on one of the conversations, students noted that presenting every class makes it less difficult to face the jury. One student emphasizes the importance of finding things to be proud of, while another stressed knowing yourself and your project well.

When asked how to prepare for a presentation, one student mentioned how important it was to have notes to avoid rambling. “Saying one thing that you didn’t mean can lead to the critique being all about it,” the student said. Others added that staying focused on the most important aspect is key with so little time.

Most importantly, students encouraged listening to feedback from smaller presentations, but to remember to put the comments in perspective and sift through them to find what is most helpful. “At the end of the day, the jury is not your enemy,” one student pointed out. “They are here to help. It’s nothing personal, and it is a learning experience for me.”

Intimidating as the jury may be, especially to an outsider like me, those words ring true. Encouraging and insightful thoughts about critique for anyone who has to get up and present their work!

posted by Katherine Wang
Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant