Standard of Education in DIT, Bolton Street

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Standard of Education in DIT, Bolton Street

Postby ja » Sat Apr 01, 2000 1:46 pm

The standard of architectural education and facilities in DIT, Bolton Street is currently the topic of much debate within the school. The school's good reputation seems to be slipping away.

Postby MG » Sat Apr 01, 2000 2:36 pm

I've heard from quite a few people at this stage that the standards are sliding.

Is it the facilities? of the standard of tutelage?
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Sat Apr 15, 2000 2:43 pm

I see that the students in the Limerick Institute of Technology are rebelling on the Architectural technicians course. As far as I know, the college downgraded the level of teh course, the RIAI then recinded their recognition of the course.

Perhaps the students in DIT need to take affirmative action.
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Postby xyz » Wed Apr 19, 2000 2:21 pm

The school is going down the tubes rapidly. The students have held class forums to gather comments and to put together an intelligent argument to present the head of the school with but it seems he is trying to brush it under the carpet. Alot of the younger tutors have or are leaving this year, some taking up positions in UCD.All the while there remains an old boys club running the place, most of whom are refusing to go on CPD courses. they are full time and can't be fired just because they are not with it. the facilities are minimal and the head of the school speaks of the future but doesn't appear to do much about it. I wonder is the RIAI aware of all this ?

Postby x » Fri Apr 21, 2000 10:40 am

As a student of Architecture in DIT, Bolton St. I am disappointed with the standard of education I am receiving. As stated above, we are rapidly losing our youngest and most enthusiastic staff members. The head of our department seems not to care about our education as much as he cares about his own self promotion and that of his peers. To prove this point, this years "architecture week", usually a student orientated week, forgot the student. The title of the week "education in Architecture" in theory was a great idea, a time when we, the students, got to discuss with qualified people; architecture, our education, the standard of education world-wide and got to voice some of our problems. In practise, this was a cover up, a clever promotional act for Bolton St. and its' name. We were begrudgingly invited to the lectures, but asked not to attend the discussions afterwards, who knows what we could have let slip, the need for computers, security for studios, photocopiers, areas to display work etc. within architectural education, aswell as quality tutelage and varied opinions from a range of lecturers.
Architecture in Bolton St. has a good name, but this will slip unless badly needed improvements are made in all areas. I, like most of my fellow students, enjoy architecture, but there is only so much we can teach ourselves, without facilities, stimulating lectures and dedicated staff.
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Postby ef » Thu Apr 27, 2000 2:26 am

I work in a local architectural firm and I hope to begin studying architecture this september, in either Bolton St. or UCD. obviously this discussion's contributions are not very encouraging if I end up in Bolton St., but this is not the first time I have heard complaints of this kind about the place.
I was a student of design in DIT Mountjoy Sq., and it seems to me that the problems experienced in Bolton St. are very similar to those in Mountjoy Sq., so it appears that there is a problem within the DIT in general.
In my opinion, the basic ingredient for a good education is a creative and competent educational staff, whose motivation and brief is to understand and engage with its students in order to challenge them and act as a sounding board for their ideas.
From the top down, the focus of an education should be the students, not the curriculum. If a college believes in its own selection procedures, it should be prepared to be flexible with its curriculum in order to educate.
The key is ENGAGEMENT. An educator should understand its student - that way it best understands how to impact on the student in order to achieve the desired effect: learning. To understand, one must engage.
The students in Bolton St. seem desperate to engage with the college, but the feeling is not mutual. This is pathetic, and can only be destructive for the students and the college. These people are the architects of our society: it's about creativity.

[This message has been edited by ef (edited 27 April 2000).]
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Postby jk » Mon May 01, 2000 1:18 pm

Sorry to hear the students at DIT Blton Street are unhappy with the general levvel of architectural education.

It may be of little or no use but for the record, when I attended (1982 - 1988 under a different head of department) exactly the same concerns were raised on an ongoing and constant basis.

Bolton Street has always suffered from poor staffing and management, particularly in the upper echolons of the architectural faculty. There does appear to be some credence to the view that many of the staff treat their positions as a sinecure and contribute little to the teaching environment.

Again, during the 80's a constant problem was that of young commited staff leaving due to frustration with syllabus and organisation.

It may however be advantageous that staff turnover is high. I would guess that after two to three years that satff become mroe institutionalised and have less to offer so there is probably some advantage in making way for new blood.

As for education, ultimately all that you receive from any architectural education is a set of credentials, some ability to handle design problems and a fast track grounding in architectural theory. Again and again it seems that real education takes place outside of the educational institute; for example in a good office environment, from one another, from architectural competitions etc.

That's not to say that you don't have the right to a say in your own education. You pay the fees, you have the right to have your views considered and responded to.

If you feel that the course is slipping then you should lodge a formal complaint wit hthe RIAI, send a copy of your complaint to the head of department and to the board of the DIT and generally create such a stink that the departmen has no option but to deal with your concerns on a formal and recorded basis.

Best of luck


Postby xyz » Tue May 02, 2000 2:01 pm

well met JK, well met!

Postby SD » Sat May 20, 2000 6:39 pm

As a graduate i am concerned with the reputation of Bolton St. as it obviously has an effect on the value of my first class honours degree.
Where does the AGA stand on this?

Postby kmcs » Mon May 22, 2000 12:21 am

As a recent UCD graduate why has nobody mentioned the less than satisfactory teaching methods in UCD?
I would propose an open discussion forum, by which students could air their opinions on architectural education. It is the students that are the architects of tomorrow, yet they are rarely, if ever consulted on aspects of their education.
I realise there was a recent forum on Architectural Education, held in Bolton Street. Yet when I phoned to see if it would be possible to attend, I was told that the participating students had been 'chosen'.
Why is it when I look back on my architectural education, the phrase 'old school repression' springs to mind?
For me college should be about the liberation of ideas, where students are taught to think for themselves in a positive way. I think it is especially important for a subject like Architecture which should be about releasing creativity, not repressing it.
I'm not alone in thinking like this - a lot of my classmates felt the same but we were afraid to speak out in case it would jeopardise our results etc. But then maybe we are as much to blame for not speaking out.
I think students should be consulted much more on aspects of their education - they are rarely if ever listened to on such matters. The majority of Architects currently working in Dublin are between the ages of 25 to 35 - all recent graduates.
Whatever influences they have come under in college will be carried through working life.
I think the entire system should be opened up and reviewed - no more closed doors please - even if it opens a complete can of worms which it probably will.
In the light of recent tribunals concerning planning bribes I would hope that we are living in a more open society where people are free to express ideas, no matter how zany they may seem, without facing ridicule.
It may not be as idealistic a notion as it sounds!

Postby Siobhán » Mon May 22, 2000 2:16 pm

It is possible for students to effect changes. The UCD School was completely overhauled thirty years ago, thanks partly to Ruairí Quinn and Liz McManus who were students at the time. They had a few young academics on their side, but the students basically took things into their own hands, starting by organising their own guest lectures and later along with the department (when I think they realised something had to be done) founding the first student/staff committees in the country. As I said, the School was eventually overhauled.

I'm not saying the same thing could happen now (that was after all the time of the Gentle Revolution in UCD, which *definitely* wouldn't happen now - mostly because it doesn't need to) in DIT, but the point is that students can have more of an impact than they may think.

Does anyone think that the move to Grangegorman might have a positive affect? Will Architecture be moving there or staying in Bolton St.?

Postby abc » Mon May 22, 2000 5:57 pm

I have a many many friends who studied in Bolton St, graduating 2-5 years ago. The stories they told about it were quite unbelievable, from the system of how final year students are told that they failed, to only seeing some tutors at the end of year,w hen they would appear to sell the students lecture notes for the exams. I also know some of them wrote to the college post graduation to express some of their views ont he appalling education they had received, and were scarcely replied to, other than 'we have taken your views into consideration.'

Students out there: please do make public how bad it is.

Postby KevinMac » Tue May 23, 2000 10:00 am

All ye disgruntled student folks why not complain to the Department/Minister of Education as well as yer local FF/PD TD.It's no use complaining to the college about the college.They are not going to unsettle themselves.Try and get some architectural big guns to back up your case too.

Postby TK » Wed May 24, 2000 6:03 pm

As an ex student of architecture in DIT. I always wondered if some of staff had heard of Morphosis Coop Himmelblau Peter Eisenman or even Zaha Hadid. Even now when architecture has moved on. Do they now know them?

Postby ish » Wed May 24, 2000 6:41 pm

With regard to architectural education as a whole I wonder whether the 'crit' system is more harmful than beneficial. For those unfamiliar with this system, students present work in front of their peers and staff and it is critiqued by the staff and sometimes an assessor from outside.

It can be a particularly harrowing experience. Students are often reduced to tears at the crits. In my own opinion I feel that even its own name has negative connotations - even calling it an appraisal would be more positive.

When a large collection of schemes are being presented it is often easier to focus on the problems with a particular scheme and overlook the good points leaving the student without much sense of balance.

Visual communication is often more rewarded to the idea - if one can't understand a drawing at once, then tough. Deadlines can often be quite harsh and students will regularly present having had no sleep. Hence any criticism will also seem unduly harsh.

I just feel that there is a whole culture continually pushing at students toward success where failure is not tolerated. This causes a whole loss of potential. The will to experiment is sapped out early unless one can learn to deal with failure.

Postby F9 » Sun Jul 16, 2000 8:17 pm

Speaking as someone who has been reduced to tears by a crit in Bolton St.,and someone who is still within the system,I would defend the practice whole-heartedly.In any design course their is a certain trauma involved in making your artistic endeavours available for public consumtion.However as an architect it important to have confidance in your designs and to be prepared to defend them in the face of constructive yet deriding critism.
On a seperate note,the quality of education in Bolton St. is laughable.As JK says students should make the displeasure known,however I think he fails to realise the level of intimidation and academic insecurity students suffer at a school where everyone knows someone with a tale of Jim Horan and Eddie'the incompetant spare tool'O'Shea.No one wants to speak up and make themselves the sole focus of this old boys club's wrath.But for anyone out there who is considering a Bolton Street education or for those of you who just want to know the score here's a quick roundup of the state of things even after your taxes paid JH's humungous salary.
*(First things first)We have no drawing boards.
*We have no paper
*We have no pens,pencils,rulers,rubbers etc.
*We have know computers.(Let me qualify that.Each year is assigned a set of computers.These computers are not in our studios,we may only use them at certain times of the day.The biggest problem is that they are not our computers but are for general use in the college which means that 9 times out of 10 when you do need them there is either a class being taught on them or some group of lads has loaded Resident Evil 2 on and are having a great time.[Don't even get me started on the lab of dead computers on the 5th floor which were,rumour has it,installed for the RIAI inspection a few years ago.]The technicians course is in a similar state of disaray.)
*The studios are often unavailable to us.As any of you who are architects well know the nature of the beast means that allnighters are de rigeur yet the porters kick us out at 9 each evening.Not to mention the fact that the 1st and 2nd studios are never locked[my less than cheap equipment and some good projects have been stolen on more than one occasion.I have since learned my lesson.]
*The erasmas program is on the critical list thanks to Eddie O'Shea's devotion to the job.Many universities now refuse to deal with us due to years of unregistered students arriving hear and abroad with no idea as to who they are[apparently he's letter writing phobic and not much better with a telephone and although this could be a genuine affliction we students prefer to term it 'being unbeleivably bloody lazy'.]
*The staff are a pack of freeloading degenerates who,in fairness,know an easy ride when they see it[as a student I have a certain respect for that].Perhaps it is time for a new system altogether.JK was right there is a high turnover of staff but its always the good,young,dedicated,talented staff who can't put up with JH narcisistic manuoverings anymore,the jaded,haven't practiced arch. or designed a godamned thing in 15 years people remain,untouched by time and unscathed by criticism.
*Finally,although I could go on and on,trust me,Jimmy boy is founding a part-time arch. course this year without making any more studio space available.Now I'm not saying that he's only doing this to cement and further his own career but does that sound like a good idea to any one else.

Does any one have any opinion on this and if so any realistic plan of campaign.For those of you are interested the ASA's round-up of our meetings and the administration's reaction to them[their meetings minutes]are worth a read.
By the way does anyone kniw if Jim Horan has completely opted out of his own practice which was,as I understand it,a requirment of his accepting the post of head of faculty

Postby JK » Mon Jul 17, 2000 8:21 pm

RE F9's comments, glad to hear the Bolton Street staff are maintaining their matchless reputation for beign generally CRAP!!!. Some things at least hav'nt changed since my time there. Re: their level of degeneracy Roman Empires have collapsed over less.

Sad to hear the complaints of Jim Horan. When I was a student he was regarded as a breath of fresh air. Sounds like time for him to retire.

As to intimidating behavior on the part of staff, (wonder if I can guess who???) you should still complain to RIAI and indeed to the Department of Education, given the furore over registration of architects between the Institute and Government I bet the RIAI people would move like greased lightning to force a few changes.

As to how to actually effect change. Have the students considered appointing a solicitor to act on your behalf, (not kidding get a young guy to represent you and it could be paid for by the cost of a few pints from each student - you'd probably need about £300.00 overall)two or three legal letters later to RIAI et Al and I bet DIT would be falling over themselves to make a change.

Group action does work. I remember in 86 we had one of the most obnoxious individuals I have ever come across as yearmaster, a general refusal to cooperate on the part of everybody in our year re: unreasonable deadlines, whimsical demands that we all go POMO in design (remember that one?) and a generally nasty attitude gave rise to a stand off where we did our own thing, handed in projects in unison, ignored his design comments and generally refused to play ball. Guess what, in the end of the day we all passed despite most of us repeatedly failing projects during the year.

Finally, if all else fails remember you're not there for life (well most of you arn't) get out, for heavens sakes go abroad to the UK Europe or Australia at least for the first few years. The professional experience available here simply is'nt good enough for new graduates (I'm speaking as a private practioner with an office of my own). Get some perspective on the proper practise of architecture in a dynamic environment before you even consider working in Ireland.

For those of you worrying yourselves witless over the fading prospects of first class honours. Cop On!!, ten years from graduation nobody will be interested in what kind of degree you got in College only how good you are now and what yo uhave in your portfolio. For the record the honours brigade in my year did OK but no better than anybody else and in fact the more successful and interesting architects among that batch seem now to be people who had difficulty motivating themselves to get up in the morning never mind worrying over what type of degree they got.

Finally, College, although fascinating when you're attending, loses its lustre when you finish. Ultimately it's not that important an experience. You'll learn far more in your first year in practise than you will in the entire five years of Bolton Street, which is why its so important to find a good practise to works for upon graduation. Do I wake up at night worrying about Jim, Eddie, Tom and the rest?? you've got to be kidding!! they simply arn't that important. make your protest. See if you can get some results from it and truck on through the course, good bad or indifferent.

Best of Luck

Postby F9 » Tue Jul 18, 2000 2:26 pm

I have to say I agree with JK alomost completely.However it is probably easier to be philisophical with the benefit of hindsight[and the joys of not being under the thumb of some of the most incompetant yesmen ever to walk earth].Five years is a long time in anyones book.The fact that university is not the be all and end all of a good career does not mean that we should be prepared to accept anything less than the highest standards possible.I'm trying not to make this sound to irate but basicly,I did not work my ass off for two years and nearly kill myself getting 560 points in the Leaving so that these little shits could drone on about Mies Van Der Roe[the most recent architect they know] and insist that every building should includ reinforced conrete with detailing from the nineteen seventies.Whether or not a student is capable of honing his own talents there is a duty on behalf of the state to provide an environment in which talent,education and experience may be fused.To rip of a great book,a university should be a church of learning where,unlike school,knowledge is not taught but discovered by the individual,this exploration is not possible in Bolton ST.
[By the by,as regards lawyers,an aquaintance of mine was refused entry into one of the lower years last year under very dubius circumstances.Although a huge petition was submitted by the students in protest at the unfair treatment it was ignored.When said student engaged a lawyer Jim Horan not only claimed that fellow students did not support the complaint but advised the student through his own solicitor that it would not be in anyones interest for the complaint to proceed.Aparently he also stated that,unlike the student in question,his solisitor did not have limited funds.Jim plays hard ball when backed into a corner.]

Postby ja&c » Tue Jul 18, 2000 9:07 pm

i think that all this shitalk has to be stopped. who are you trying to impress with all those long 'words'. I'll bet its that pussy in fifth year that writes most of the shit on this page.
instead of whining away on this pussy website you should be out there doing something about it. once the college year starts again james horan and des lynam
should be brought down to earth. things have obviously gotten out of hand and mr. lynams' (aka eddie o shea hehehe) dogmatic manner has to be neutralised.

mr. horan made it known that in his day, the students literally sat outside the offices of their 'superiors' in order to get what they wanted.
we have to do the same thing.
i'd even go as far as to say that he is challenging us to equal his 'rebelious and unyielding disregard for authority'.

basically, these c**ts have to be shown that its our frickin education thats at stake and we're not gonna lie down while they f*ck us over for five years in a row and kick us out at the end of it all with a third rate degree.

at the end of the day, they have their cushy little jobs, they have their families and they have their degrees.
why should they (in all fairness) go out of their way just to facilitate us.
they have their own interests to look after and nobody can deny that.
we the students have to look after our interests and its fukkin obvious what those are.

also- don't any one person go out on a limb and challange the system because he or she will be cut down to size faster than he or she can say 'dats not guache'!

stick togeather and use tact.

may the course be with you,
they can take our architecture but they can nover take our freedom,

ja&c (the militant wing of the ASA)

Postby J » Sat Jul 22, 2000 2:54 pm

Being another relatively recent graduate of Bolton St., I can relate to the opinions expressed on this bulletin board. I'll keep this brief because if I got started on this whole subject I'd be sitting here until tomorrow. However, as some have suggested, it is time for action. Unfortunetly, even graduates feel intimidated, what happens when you go for the interview for the RIAI exams, who will you be facing? My graduating class or some of us tried to form a petition after what we thought was blatant favouritism shown at the very end of our thesis year. Unfortunetly less than half the class signed and it therefore was never sent to the college.
If there is alot of strong feeling among graduates (and I'm sure there is) we should get organised, that is if we haven't already. I've been working for 2 years now and I have to say I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed at the lack of practical education I received in my 6 years in Bolton St. As was said before I'm disappointed in the work experience I'm getting in Dublin. We're all working for RIAI members (though some are members in the very vaguest sense of the word) and the RIAI should be monitoring this. Many moons ago (1991) when I was a second year, I remember an elder member of the student body complaining that Bolton St graduates were treated like second rate technicians. Now I discovered that she's right. Especially now that technicians demand such high salaries.
I hope that from among the countless numbers of Bolton St graduates there are some who are not members of, or who are not practicing their yachtsmanship in preparation for entry into, the old boys club, and are interested in forming a proper alumni organisation independant of the college and interested in doing something to prevent their degrees being devalued by the incompetance of the dinosaurs we all know still lurk in the studios of Bolton St.
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Postby ja » Sun Jul 23, 2000 10:53 pm

The RIAI are coming to inspect the Architecture course in Bolton Street in April 2001. If changes are not made soon the same could happen to Bolton Street students as happened to the students in Limerick.
I think that part of the reason that so many of the staff are doing such a shit job is because there is so much money to be made in private practice because of the strength of the building industry. By putting their time and energy into their private practices they are likely to make a lot more cash than they would lecturing in Bolton Street. I think this is the reason why so many first years saw so little of the studio staff this year.
Its really time we got a new head of department-someone with decent management skills and not some shitwit bullshitting architect like Mr. Horan. Maybe a non-architectural head of department, a manager, might be better.
Also maybe we could organise a meeting of students and graduates. THe DIT might listen to graduates more than they would listen to students. The meeting could be organised through the AAI or RIAI.
Enough bitching has been done on this page and its time for something to be done.

Postby jk » Fri Jul 28, 2000 5:07 pm

A friend of mine, also a Bolton St graduate was talking today about the situation in Bolton St and suggested that everybody in the architecture course who is worried about their education should foramlly apply for transfer to UCD School of Architecture and copy their application for transfer to the RIAI.

Not a bad idea in my humble opinion and would rightly shake up the course administrators. Mass defections do not look good for the college you know!!.

Postby MG » Sat Jul 29, 2000 11:56 am

jk, that seems like an excellent idea... and well worth trying.
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Postby F9 » Sat Jul 29, 2000 6:06 pm

Tried it.UCD will not accept transfer students who have not completed their diploma course i.e the first three years.So most of us including myself don't qualify for that escape hatch.

Postby K22 » Sat Jul 29, 2000 7:37 pm

I also tried it, and was told to complete my (incidentally nominal) diploma. But the gesture of a mass defect may be one of the tools we as students can incorporate into our battleplan.
I am entering third year next year and Jim Horan has made various promises. if they are not met drastic measures will need to be taken, or who knows what will become of our degrees? Or if we will even get degrees?
As architects we need to use our imaginations to come with creative solutions to our colleges problems. Social Engineering.
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