What encouraging story or anecdote do you tell your students about your journey with contemporary architecture?
The real strength of architectural education, especially in professional programs, is the development of a well-rounded and generalist knowledge base. Architecture is one of the few disciplines where real and thorough understandings of intense multi-scalar relations are developed and cultivated. Architects are thoughtful from the beginning and are extremely good at defining and distilling the parameters of a particular problem into a clear and manageable hierarchy. Architecture education is as much about learning how to synthesize knowledge as it is about accumulating knowledge. With that in mind, I tell my students this story at the end of their education: I was very fortunate to be offered a position working for one of the top architects in the world after completing my undergraduate education. Of course I was feeling pretty good about myself and this was the validation of all I had learned. When I showed up to the office for my first day, the architect, Peter Eisenman, said to me, ‘you will never be a good architect until you realize you don’t know anything about architecture.’ I have to say I was a bit stunned by this, but at the time wrote it off as his way of putting me, the young guy, in my place. Now of course I have an interpretation that may be what he was after. The way I understand it now is that to be a good architect the things you know are not important to your project because every architectural project is different. Rather what is important is what you learn about each and every project–and more importantly–that you push yourself to discover something new each time you take on a project. In my mind, this is what differentiates architecture from most other technical disciplines; there are no right answers, just better ones. Of course, he could have just been putting me in my place.