Design School is a Waste

World architecture... what's happening generally....

Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:14 pm

Just like I always thought, it is indeed a collosal burden on families and individuals.
And at the end of the day, leaves mobs of people simply burned out, pissed off and downright angry.
More confused as to their 'direction' afterwards, than before.

There is no doubt in my mind, but architectural design school education is a costly and unnecessary waste of money and talented peoples' time.
I would put it on a par, with going to gaeltacht to learn irish.
Where learning a language would be the furthest things from one's mind.
And avoiding the wrath of the sadistic 'head master' would be one's greatest concern.

The only difference is, the gaeltacht is over in three weeks.
Architecture school can easily last for a decade.
Sometimes, even after half a lifetime, the nerves are still left exposed and raw.
Sure to flare up again, at the easiest of provocation.

Sure, there is always the one or two 'shining example students', which the design school themselves are very careful to present to the public view,
as an 'average' representation of what their school aims to produce.
Which is unfair to the broader sample of students doing their best.

I have never yet once, seen a design school put forward 'a clunker' in a final public design review.
To just balance up the stats some bit, and give the underdog's a chance.

The system basically condemns countless individuals as 'wasters', and surplus to the requirement.
They are just the closet cases, like the unmarried mother of old.

http://www.doorsofperception.com/archives/2006/07/post_5.php#comments

Good to hear, the cat is finally coming out of the bag.
It is becoming official now.
But the whistle should have sounded long ago.

Maybe the future holds something better for masses of young, motivated people coming up.
Maybe they can look forward to something decent, once the problems are fully acknowledged by those in positions of responsibility.

Brian O'Hanlon.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby Shane Clarke » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:15 am

God Gareth Ace - You do talk nonsense. What are you on about? Where's the argument, what's your suggested alternative? "The system basically condemns countless individuals as 'wasters', and surplus to the requirement.
They are just the closet cases, like the unmarried mother of old". What? I don't wish to be nasty but basically gibberish prose poetry is what I'm reading? I went to 'design school' and love it and blossemed! I atke it your experience wasn't so positive. cheers, Shane
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby what? » Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:45 pm

What are you on Gareth? Are you suggesting that you'd rather let a group of untrained secondary school kids loose as architects?

If your designs were as disjointed as your writing I'm not surprised you had a difficult time in "design school"
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:47 pm

Hi all you readers and designers out there!

I find it very interesting the way two initial posters have tried to channel the discussion the way they want it to go.
I find it interesting, they have both ignored the possibility, I might speak on behalf of a group of unheard individuals,
who are out there now, alone in OUR society. So bear that in mind, before you turn this into a debate about who I am,
what makes or messes me up, or what I am really about. It isn't about me. It really isn't this time. Sorry folks.
Both of you have shot from the hip, with a direct assault on me personally. And btw, spare me, the 'I blossomed' routine.
It is old, and probably means that you blossomed in some other dimension, other than a design one.
And this blossoming, helped you approach your life and your work in a more positive fashion. Good luck to you.

Sure, parts of the system in society work. As a student you can get to experience living in a new city, a new place and a new culture.
That certainly has a lot going for it. The colleges themselves have generally been very forward about the
benefits that 'go along' with the college experience. But the discussion, I am interested in, is the college experience itself - not the
fact you might be a LUAS ride away from Grafton Street, for a couple of years, and with easier access to a wider social circle.
Not to discount those things, but I am focussing on the real limitations that exist in the design school system.
At this time of year, it should be apparent to young kids starting out - exactly what they have signed up for.
It should be transparent - the highs and lows of design school experience. Because, lets get this straight, you are an investor.
You are investing YOUR time, YOUR money into this deal - you deserve and should demand a fair one, and nothing less than that.
But the design schools on our island, and those around the globe haved dished up some raw deals down through the years.
I compare it to going into a cheap and nasty chinesse take-out, having had too many beers, and waking up with the belly ache to show for it.

If you want some more substance, try out the following. The people who graduate to professor status in design schools, were the kinds of kids
who were 'different' in school. They weren't the greatest early social integrators or participants. Like that villian from a Pixar movie who
wanted to be a super hero. One must realise, that the first experience of control and leadership - or acceptance - they might ever obtain
in their lives, is when they are 30+ and appointed as a professor. They have never known that kind of control - they use it the only way
they know how - quite badly. The pep-talks they deliver each September usually sound like some billionaire, about to embark on an
Mount Everest conquest - to fill some other deficiency, or inadequacy in their life and persona. The 'Christopher Columbus' speech I heard
way back in 1992, still sticks in my mind. I guess being a first year at that time, my memory was better able to retain rubbish.
This isn't random, or unusual. Quite the opposite, there is a very consistent trend of people like this leading up the design schools.
They are small people, with small ideas and very, very, very small visions. Which leads me, to my final conclusion - about in-breeding -
in designer occupations. I don't mean, the literal genetic in-breeding. I am refering to another form - that of memetic in-breeding - as in
the theory posed by Richard Dawkins years ago, at the end of one of his books - the Selfish Gene, I think.

A meme, you can goggle the web for a better definition - but one of its manifestations, is being able to recognise the offspring of parents,
by the kids gestures, expressions and habits. The importance of memes for social animals like homo sapiens could be very deep.
I would argue that the 'Meme Pool', in Irish architecture, is so pathetically small and un-nurished as to render itself impotent -
unable to produce a really first class design figure - ever. Just more and more generations of progressively crippled and restricted thinkers.
Remember, to produce REAL designers, you need to accomodate diversity into the equation - which might mean taking in a wider sample,
expanding the edges and perhaps picking up the odd ball or two. But that is irrelevant, compared to the richness, that will 'emerge' from the
increase in diversity. To be honest, whichever 'level' you look at - there is much, much, much too much control
built into the designer and innovator incubation system. I would gladly welcome, some of the 'dis-order', randomness and basic lack of control,
you speak of. Call it chaos if you like. Anything is better than the current, top-down organisation of self-appointed high priests of 'Irish Design'. (TM)
I am more than willing to take my hands off the steering wheel and see what happens. Even enjoy what happens. Who else will? Shocked anyone?


Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby a boyle » Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:55 am

that is all very interesting but what are you trying to say . this for slightly more than just ranting...
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby shadow » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:46 am

To paraphrase (an interpretation):

The Design schools are in the hands of unrealistic or isolated professors whose relevance to the profession is limited, thus producing students or work who are irrelevant.
Design schools do not like to see students undertake work other than the Canon appropriate to the current fashion.
Design Juries and Publications support sycophants who fawn after their every word and action promoting a self fulfilling destiny amongst a very small group of people.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby burge_eye » Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:22 pm

garethace wrote:Just like I always thought, it is indeed a collosal burden on families and individuals.
And at the end of the day, leaves mobs of people simply burned out, pissed off and downright angry.
More confused as to their 'direction' afterwards, than before.
.



I think Brian may have had one of those "Client Meetings" where the facade budget is given as €20/sqm. There is nooo doubt that the words "why did I bother" will enter any graduate's head at least once a day every day after they leave college - which in my case is a minimum of 4,745 times.

On the other hand I thoroughly enjoyed college and wouldn't take any of it back. Well, maybe the post modern incident in second year...The tutors were all very much in the mould of "those who can't......." but then again they were all on life tenure and the school couldn't afford outside help.

Personally, I have always believed that to teach architecture, schools must teach the business. We all think of architecture as the 12B sketch on the back of an envelope - this, if anything, is design theory. For a student to move as seamlessly as possible into the real world, this design theory should form maybe on 1/3 of the entire course. Graduates need to be taught:

Foundations and drainage
Fundamentals of structures
Fundamental principals of M&E design
Fundamental principals of weather-tightness
Strict adherence to building regs should be enforced, especially Part L

Like it or not, all of the above are part and parcel of architecture and WILL influence the final look of the building.

Final year students should design to a budget
After 1 term these buildings should be costed. Changes have to be made. Costed again after 2nd term etc
Energy audits done
then these buildings should be given to a builder for programme and buildability

Let's face it most year out students do a lot of competitions, sketch designs, folding prints etc. College should be fun but if the schools teach a degree of reality, the rest of your working life will become more fun too.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby what? » Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:28 pm

Gareth i attacked you personally because you have an extremely idio(t)syncratic way of writing. one which i personally find exacerbating in the extreme.

shadow obviously has more patience than me as his interpretation shows there may be some form of cogent argument behind the haze of divergences but i just find it impenetrable.

So your proposal is evasive at best. If you presented it in a more concise manner maybe we could begin to discuss the merits of it rather than your writing.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:45 pm

Before I get into this, I will just point people here to an author, Ivan Illich who spoke a great deal about the services society is providing, and puts forward an interesting approach. Think of recent health service findings, that 'time' is what matters more to patients, more than actual treatment. I would say, that in education there is too much information flooding towards students, and not enough time in which to think. Hence Illich, wrote his book called 'de-schooling society'.

Shadow, you seem to have summed it up, as I would like to myself.

The Design schools are in the hands of unrealistic or isolated professors whose relevance to the profession is limited,


Unfortunately, these types of professors are possibly the only ones capable of handling the unfairness of the current situation. One, where a couple of star students are chosen from every year to become the Almight Britney Spears, and everyone else might as well whistle dixie. It is demoralising to go through years of design school tutition knowing you will never be chosen, never have a hit record. Simply because the current system will not support more than a few exceptional talents, who possess the 'X' factor. Puke!

But forget about relevance to the 'profession' for a second. The profession could come and go, and noone would even notice. Think rather of relevance to the construction industry - that sort of beast. The construction industry is something that society needs after all. Architects shouldn't be afraid of the construction industry, but they are. They build barricades around themselves to keep it out. They look at the media created image of the construction industry - of exploitation of labour, a race to the bottom - and architects say to themselves, I don't want that. Hence, why the 'profession' has no real place in the construction industry any more. Architects are busy fiddling around in tiny niches, and bumping into one another.

thus producing students or work who are irrelevant.


On the contrary, I think the work on display at end-of-year exhibitions is all wonderful stuff. However, it is like the music industry and the Top 40 charts - the music recording companies have already 'filtered' the content, to ensure that what gets through, is what conforms to a certain profile. A profile decided by the 'organisers' of the 'X' factor contest to begin with - the guys holding those 12B clutch pencils and sporting calvin klein horn rimmed spectacles. Compare it to music downloading nowadays, which is starting to give a choice - and take power away from the big recording studios. But the sad fact in architecture, is that when you get the single precious recording contract you are set for life. If you don't get it, you are doomed to years of obscurity.

For instance, the front screen of Rhapsody features Britney Spears, unsurprisingly. Next to the listings of her work is a box of "similar artists." Among them is Pink. If you click on that and are pleased with what you hear, you may do the same for Pink's similar artists, which include No Doubt. And on No Doubt's page, the list includes a few "followers" and "influencers," the last of which includes the Selecter, a 1980s ska band from Coventry, England. In three clicks, Rhapsody may have enticed a Britney Spears fan to try an album that can hardly be found in a record store.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&topic=tail&topic_set=

Unfortunately, the model that has developed for a lot of creative professions - the recording contract idea, the Britney Spears star model, results in a lack of choice, and power concentrated in one institution. When you go to a design school exhibition, you rarely get beyond the Britney Spears front page choice. The teaching staff in design schools are divas - I mean, the WHOLE staff in these institutions is populated by people from a niche. A niche that accounts for a ridiculously small portion of the construction industry. They arrive into deliver 'tutition', as it is called. And most of them are so sore about not be paid enough, or tired from driving these one-person niche practices, and living pipe-dreams. They are in no fit state to judge any young person's ability, while carrying around their own baggage. A lot of them were 'X' factor kids in a past life, so the whole rotten formula just starts to in-breed. I have often witnessed the professors 'coach' a young star before a presentation, and it is exactly the image of show business. Nothing to do with design or thinking about solving problems.

Design schools do not like to see students undertake work other than the Canon appropriate to the current fashion.


Design schools do not like to see students undertake work which cannot be groomed into a sexy, all singing, all dancing show business performance.
On this one aspect, I have to admit I failed quite miserably. I must not have had enough 'X' factor to be a real professional.
Here, I would stand up for the design schools strangely enough. Because the design schools filter the student population to produce the Britneys, the Britneys after a while start to drive the process, moreso than the teaching staff. If a star student decides to do an arts center for a thesis, then everyone else has to do an arts center too.
Just like you have diva's amongst the professors, you have real DIVAs amongst the student body also.
In fairness to the professors, they cannot accept work which isn't following the prescribed rules, for fear of upsetting the biggest diva's amongst the student body itself.
So the whole process, is self-reflective in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways. It is a horrible and ghostly 'hall of mirrors' kind of situation.

Design Juries and Publications support sycophants who fawn after their every word and action promoting a self fulfilling destiny amongst a very small group of people.


This is the in-breeding point, I was trying to make. It is in-bred on so many levels too. Am I the only one who notices the webbed feet anymore?
Along with the De-schooling Society book, another one by Ivan Illich, called 'Tools for Conviviality' is a classic apparently. It may provide interesting suggestions for the architectural community to grow more healthy links to the outside. One obvious link which could be created, is between the construction industry and architecture. But as long as you have professors who do not understand the need to link - the community will continue to in-breed itself.
The community is in total denial of its own problems at the moment, far from trying to fix some of them.

Burge_eye, the 12B sketch on the back of the envelope approach to 'professionalism' is exactly the problem. Not that there is anything wrong with a 12B sketch. But in isolation, it is a real problem. What is a huge obstacle, is how a certain body of people, called architects managed consistently to think they can get away with 12B and nothing more. It is equivalent to the hippie's stubborn persistence in growing vegetables on the land, and selling beaded necklaces. It is a beautiful model for living, but an insufficient one for business. The trouble is the 12B crowd monopolise the teaching positions in the institutions. Which is a real shame.
I would welcome representatives of the construction materials companies on the floor at design reviews, or desk studies. Certainly the concrete guys will push their product, the steel guys, will push theirs. But that is a part of the game. The idea, of creating the links, is to get away from pushing 12Bs.

Let's face it most year out students do a lot of competitions, sketch designs, folding prints etc. College should be fun but if the schools teach a degree of reality, the rest of your working life will become more fun too.


If you are lucky, you receive the privelege of being allowed to fold the drawings. Unfortunately, I rarely even got that privelege. The few times I did, on my years out from studies, I would always notice an architectural technician, perhaps a couple of years younger than me working as a professional in the same office. He or she would be doing a real job, and helping to produce a result. I would be 'folding drawings'. Which always struck me as kind of odd. I think the biggest natural mistake of all - is not giving the architecture students a recognised diploma after three years, and the option to go out there and compete with the architectural technicians.
But that is not what happens. After four years of architectural training, you are not even considered qualified enough to fold the damb drawings. You are likely to be beaten to a job by a Pole or an Italian, with less usable command of english than a six year old.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby manifesta » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:53 am

And let us hope that the Italian or Pole who has beaten you to the job appreciates your treatises on "accomodating diversity" into the hermetic inbred, webfooted priesthood of Irish Design. (TM)
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:33 pm

And let us hope that the Italian or Pole who has beaten you to the job appreciates your treatises on "accomodating diversity" into the hermetic inbred, webfooted priesthood of Irish Design. (TM)


Touche!

Actually, most of them are perfectly okay with my thoughts on it all. I have shared many of my ideas with foreign architects, debated this at length. I still haven't fallen out with one foreign architect on this issue. It takes a bit more than that to hurt them - they are all from strong, proud cultures and they know who they really are, where they come from. For them, there are much deeper issues and problems facing them here, than the ones I might present. Allow me to explain a little.

Many small practices in Ireland today, (one-person, small, exclusive boutique practices are the worst offenders) are loading up with these eager imported workers. Many of them are worked so hard by their employers, they aren't even allowed to attend their English classes in the week evenings. This is a sticking point, because, the employers seldom alot a time in the week or day, in which to speak one-to-one with the foreign labour, so as to improve their grasp of the language. I wouldn't mind if the foreign architect, was in some way enhanced by the experience of working here in Ireland. But very often, their experience here is a souless one. It is like, we need you to do the dog's work, but we really aren't that interested in you. This is what is wrong - it exempifies so much about Irish Architecture. The foreigners are seeing it, just as much as we natives always did. I is not just about giving the job to one person or the other. It is more than that, it is about how you treat people too. And on that score, many Irish Architects have again been found wanting.

All in all, the Irish Architect has been rushing to employ these cheap, available architects - but seldom willing to give back anything into the deal. As in spending some small bit of time a week, just talking in English with them. For my own part, I have spent hours and hours speaking to these migrant workers - and it is pretty much the same story, I have been hearing across the board. By all means, allow the better candidate to win the work in the first place. But at least, show these people the respect they deserve for offering their services to begin with. It just sickens me, not just to lose prospects of employment to someone without the ability to speak. But not just that, I am hearing the stories from foreign architects - about the treatment they receive having got the job, and worked hard.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:02 am

By the way, just to end off some of my points here, I have extracted just a couple of useful quotes from Kevin Kelly's excellent work on complexity, called 'Out of Control'.

The simple fact is, that Irish Design doesn't produce strong individual figures.

It does produce lots and lots of ecosystems - weird co-dependent networks.

That is not just my bias, it is a fact. A fact, which must be attended to, prior to making any future progress.

It starts within the design schools, and extends far into later life. If we want to build a new language and a new expression, this is something we have to adjust better.

In eastern Mexico live a variety of acacia shrubs and marauding ants. Most acacias have thorns, bitter leaves, and other protection against a hungry world. One, the "swollen thorn acacia," learned to encourage a species of ant to monopolize it as a food source and kill or run off all other predators. Enticements gradually included nifty water-proof swollen thorns to live in, handy nectar fountains, and special ant-food buds at the leaf tips. The ants, whose interests increasingly coincided with the acacia's, learned to inhabit the thorns, patrol the acacia day and night, attack every acacia-hungry organism, and even prune away invading plants such as vines and tree seedlings that might shade Mother Acacia. The acacia gave up its bitter leaves, sharp thorns, and other devices and now requires the acacia-ant for survival. And the ant colonies can no longer live without the acacia. Together they're unbeatable. In evolutionary time, the instances of coevolution have increased as sociability in life has increased. The more copious life's social behaviors are, the more likely they are to be subverted into mutually beneficial interactions. The more mutually responsive we construct our economic and material world, the more coevolutionary games we'll see.


The trouble with these small, one-person Irish architectural practices - is they expect from the foreign architect - this same willingness to enter a symbiotic relationship.

Many of the foreign architects have their own opinions however, and their own identities.

Which causes the friction that we now see between native and foreign practitioner.

That is mainly, the kind of person who does well here in Irish Design and Architecture School.

The kind of person capable of entering into a symbiotic relationship.

So many things in modern life and society are strong symbiotic in nature.

Things like advertising, which finds ever more and more sophisticated ways to target the person.

Making the 'ad' feel as if, it was designed only for you.


Creatures born in the rugged environments of arctic climes must deal with the unpredictable variations that nature is always throwing at them. Freezing at night, baking during the day, ice storms after spring thaw, all create a rugged habitat. Habitats in the tropics and in the very deep sea are relatively "smooth" because of their constant temperature, rainfall, lightfall, and nutrients. Thus the smoothness of tropical or benthic environments allows species there to relinquish the need to adapt in physiological ways and allows them room to adapt in purely biological ways. In these steady habitats we should expect to see many instances of weird symbiotic and parasitic relationships -- parasites preying upon parasites, males living inside of females, and creatures mimicking and mirroring other creatures -- and that's what we do find. Without a rugged environment life can only play off itself. It will still produce variation and novelty. But far more diversity can be manufactured in natural and artificial worlds by setting creatures in a rugged and vastly differentiated environment.


The trouble is, we haven't endured many intellectual debates in this country. We haven't seen any debate at all hardly within architecture. Just mutually blood-sucking and very stale co-dependent relationships.

"we should expect to see many instances of weird symbiotic and parasitic relationships", that expression sums up the Irish Design institutions as good as I can tell.

That is also the prime difference for me, between Irish and many European Architects I have spoken to.

The Europeans tend to be born from a more rugged and varied intellectual landscape. And it shows.

The Irish Architect tends to be co-dependent on someone, or something else. Just a mirror reflection.

We have a lot to learn, we will have to work on that independence, of body, mind and spirit.

I know, I might have been ahead of my time here in Ireland in that instance.

Surrounded by such primitive forms of life.


Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby garethace » Wed Aug 09, 2006 10:58 pm

Co-dependency.

Many peoples' favourite example of co-dependent relationships in architecture happened, when a president of the awards commitee managed to present himself with his own award. More or less anyhow. Because people in the architecture space are so used to this, I guess no one felt it strange. But I can guarantee you, it looks strange from the outside looking in. It is like the frog and the boiling water. If you drop the frog into the boiling water, he jumps out again. But if you put him in cool water, and gradually heat it up - the same frog with sit there stupidly and cook. This is what has happened to architecture over a sequence of decades and generations. It has cooked itself to death.

An Obstacle.

Another crucial point about Architecture. The exact same number of entries into courses now, as there was 10 or 15 years ago. Does anyone find that strange - not amongst architecture circles apparently. Yet, most of the 'building' you see happening around you these days - is being managed at a reasonable level of skill by slews of non-architects. Indeed, in the few instances where the architect got involved, he/she just proved an obstacle to go around. Is that a current job description?

New Talent.

Architects believe deep down inside themselves, that our poor little island is only capable of producing 50-60 odd 'gifted' designers per year, no more. Inside the workings of their mental model of the world, that kind of weird mathematical precision seems to make sense. What passes for 'new talent' or 'new influences', or new approaches in architecture is just a joke. No, it is actually an insult. It has been the same thing churning around in the washing machine for generations.

The Marketplace.

The biggest architect in Ireland in the last ten years, and the last 50 years has been the marketplace - not an individual. It is a mark of weakness on most practitioners part, not to realise that. The marketplace didn't have a special training, but somehow it managed. The marketplace always does manage anyhow, whatever field we talk about. It managed to be quicker and more adaptable than any individual designer. The marketplace has a 'huge' portfolio. Yet, like a clever person, it hasn't entered for the awards, it hasn't advertised, just quietly got on about its business. The architects have been so busy promoting themselves as designers, they have missed the real player, doing all the work, in their own field.

Clients.

The reason architects haven't met the marketplace yet, is because the marketplace is also the client, the common person. In the mind a good architect, the common person exists only to admire what I have designed and built. My design never existed to fit around your needs. Which are fluid and organic - not a style, that you can slap together using photoshop.

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Re: Design School is a Waste

Postby BostonorBerlin » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:32 am

You make some good points 'garethace' a very interesting thread., There was no sustance in the content nor the manner of those respondents who disagreed. I agree with your premise but I would argue its not a total waste as every person who attends a design school for any length of time will have explored their artistic and creative side to some degree which has merits in its own right. They just should never be allowed to practice their design in the public sphere. Correct, nepotism is rampant in Irish architecture circles, to its detriment. Its not worth debating the flaws of the Irish design system and the poor qulaity of the end-product that comes out of Irish architecture school...the buildings that one sees around oneself in Ireland are testament to how much of a waste design school was on alot of those 'qualified' persons.
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