"Creation," observed L. Corbusier, " is a patient search."
It can also be lonely and, at times, painful. The studio experience is a time of intense individual effort and self-scrutiny. It introduces a pedagogy and language of expression that are radically different from conventional classroom settings. It requires a set of skills not always anticipated by beginning students, including time management, research, teamwork, and clarity of written and verbal expression.
The design studio offers a rich learning environment, a voyage of discovery and growth where discreet disciplines are synthesized in the design process. The COAD studio approach emphasizes student initiative and casts the instructor in the role of coach and mentor. Because the pedagogy is based on critique, it is fraught with the possibility of discouragement and misunderstanding.
For a studio to be a successful experience for student and teacher alike, an atmosphere of mutual trust must be established. The key to this, we believe, is the establishment of open communication at the outset of each studio and the recognition by all parties of a set of core principles that describe the studio experience: professionalism, collegiality, and solidarity.
An accredited professional degree in architecture or design discipline must operate according to a clear set of standards. It is assumed that students and their professors attend studio regularly and on time; that any anticipated absences or delays be communicated in advance whenever possible; that the work environment be respectful in terms of noise level and cleanliness; that studio time be used for studio work; that posted materials relate to studio projects; and that spoken and written language is fully respectful of each individual's integrity. Students receive a written syllabus - which can also be accessed online through Kepler - for each studio setting forth a schedule, bibliography/resource list, explanation of grading criteria, and professor's office hours and contact information. Work shall be completed on time and meet established presentation requirements. Reviews are conducted in an atmosphere of civility.
The design studio is one component of the student's education. It draws on the contribution of colleagues teaching in other areas of the curriculum. While studio represents the dominant time commitment for student workloads, it is important that studio schedules not impinge on students' other classroom obligations. To the extent possible, studio review schedules should be correlated with due dates in other courses to avoid the kind of congestion that leads students to miss classes or hand work in late. Studio faculty schedule field trips and other special events during studio time. If the nature of the event requires a student to miss all or part of another class, the studio instructor should clear this with the other instructor so students are not placed in an awkward position.
It is essential that studio operate in an atmosphere of solidarity, shared effort, and mutual support in the task at hand. This entails meeting expectations for team projects, helping each other learn new skills, and sharing resources. It means recognizing that we all have other concerns in our lives - family, job, health, etc. - and being understanding and supportive of this reality. Workloads and due dates can be demanding, but should not be unrealistic. It is essential, for example, that students get the amount of sleep they need to function safely and productively. Primarily, it means establishing a culture of generosity that will help ensure that our time at NJIT is one of personal growth and collective success.