Architectural Ideologies: a Response to Thoughts on the Pluralism of the YSOA

Publication Date
April 2, 2015


Appeared in Fold One

Daniel Luster’s (MArch II ‘15) Thoughts on the Pluralism of the YSOA in Paprika Issue 02 questions and critiques the current pedagogy of a pluralistic approach to design at the school. While I share his argument for taking a position in architecture, and for articulating a direction in architectural teaching, I disagree with his proposition that Yale lacks either. Despite the array of practitioners and theorists “from the most extreme ends of the spectrum of design,” in the end, it is still a school of Architecture dedicated to building, a fact emphasized by Dean Stern during the 2014 open house and reinforced by the building project. In today’s era when practices invest in research more than design, when studios are renamed “laboratories,”1 and when even the name “architecture” is replaced by a cooler-sounding “design” in many academic and professional circles, I think architecture itself is the most prevalent ideology of the school.

Moreover, I would not equate exposure to a multitude of ideas with ceasing to develop one’s “own understanding and convictions about what is right in architecture.” This understanding and belief structure should be reinforced through a process of questioning, reasoning, testing, colliding, and weighing it against what others believe—the very process of “positive friction” that Daniel himself advocates as requisite for better learning. After all, as the article suggests, architecture is a matter of subjective judgement; therefore, confining it to certain metrics of success is ineffective.

Even if the current pluralistic methodology at YSOA were to be replaced by a singular ideology, it makes us question: what it would be? Would it stay relevant tomorrow without becoming another trendy “-ism”? I believe the true strength of the school is its disciplinary focus, while allowing students the freedom to interpret the discipline in our own way and with our own values.

1. Alexander, Zeynep Celik. Neo-Naturalism. Log 31: New Ancients, p11, spring/summer 2014.

Publication Date
April 2, 2015
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