Just as an aside about the architecture profession, I am always amazed at the fact that you almost never see an architect on Irish tv giving their opinion / analysis on any topic. There seems to be much debate within architecture circles about design, the environment, and planning, for example; but when it comes to promoting such opinions to the wider world, there is a great deficit. And their input is greatly needed. You just have to glance across the countryside to see why.
A poster above asked about perspective.
Well, you tend to receive some perspective long after you leave an architectural school I would say for sure. There is quite a sense of 'togetherness' for the duration of the student's course, I would say that sadly isn't followed through, beyond the college level.
Anyhow, just to underline a lot of what I have said above: It is true that the architectural schools in this country receive a fresh supply of young people each year - around 90 between UCD and BS. But what has always concerned me, was what the schools did to that sample of young people. Very often trying to bend that sample out of the normal shape of statistical distribution - that you would expect to find in terms of skill, perception and capability. In all fairness, once you are finished filtering the entire teenage population of Ireland, down to just a mere 90 students, it gets tough to bend the statistics out of shape I think - people are all so closely matched I think - yet, the efficency, with which the architectural schools manage to produce exaggerated bell-shaped distributions out of a class of 50 individuals, who have been filtered from the entire country's population, is something that has always amazed me personally. I don't think it is fair, and honestly, I don't believe it to be really true either.
In reality, I was always very worried that architectural school tutors, couldn't really grasp how small a sample they are in fact dealing with, and how rare it would be to find students of much higher stature in architectural ability, or much lower stature, within such a small sample - but sadly, that is how they 'see' every new class. In order to produce a kind of exaggeration of extremes - on the one hand, students who grow during the course, to ten feet tall in terms of their architectural stature. This of course are the stuff mounted in the display case as it were. But on the other end, you do have the people reduced to almost 'one foot' in architectural stature, represented way below their actual value, and these are disposed of via the rubbish shoot. Now, I do understand, it is both attractive to the college and to certain students even, to go the 'ten-footer' route, with their education - but I still believe, this lack of eveness has it's price at the end of the day - for all concerned. You are just throwing half your actual 'worth' down the rubbish shoot too, to make the end of year exhibition a little bit more sexy.
It is a bit like going for the fast return, the quick buck, rather than holding out for the real windfall. Just think about political systems even, the best and most productive governments down through the years, are talented majority parties, kept sharp by the mere presence of a decent opposing party. That is how it should happen in the context of Irish Architecture too - you need that opposition party - but sadly, architectural schools here love that old rubbish shoot. So you run the risk of having a large, fat and lazy majority party, which never lives to see it's real potential. I believe the work at Archiseek is even useful in trying to help sustain some form of useful 'opposition', in the absense of anything else. That is just simply, how I feel about these things - quite frankly, I believe in team work - a concept which architects could look a good deal more at. Your quote above, about the lack of presence in the media, by architects, speaks in volumes of their individual lack of confidence in their own voice. Remember, when an individual goes on stage, or on TV and speaks, even though you see the individual - they also represent a collective network. I don't know really what to think, but certainly, if a company CEO was exposed of manipulating the companies statements, to paint a 'Mona Lisa' like picture in their earnings and profit sheets - to boost the share price - they wouldn't be highly respected. I think the same is true of architecture - you have to find a reasonable level for the standard you set for your students - one which approximates your true value as an faculty. Rather than using display cabinets all the time.
Mind you I did enjoy the UCD exhibition this year, I thought there was an honesty about the whole event, throughout the work of all the years on exhibit, which I did appreciate. I haven't made up my mind yet, before I visit the Bolton Street exhibition, being launched tomorrow evening, hopefully it will be good too. I have just tried to underline some of the weakest points about the architectural education system here, as I have seen it. I am sure those concerned in the Irish architectural schools are just as painfully aware of the weaknesses as I have been. But I have not spoken as much in this thread, about the many, many real strengths in Irish architectural education too. (No sniggers at the back please) But I still believe, one has to work on your weakest points most, to see the overall best improvement, that is all. I hope I have managed to get some of that across to you all, here in my posting.
Brian O' Hanlon.