17 June 2010

The Final Days

After a night of celebrating and a late morning recovering from the vicious combination of sleep deprivation and drinking, I return to school Friday morning more out of habit than necessity.  The third-year studio's reviews are on the last day or two of the semester so almost all the other students have left the city for summer internships and travel.  (I haven't found a job yet, but I will be traveling to Costa Rica for a week after graduation and then I am moving to New York City.)  The building is eerily vacant and quiet.   Our studio's work is still pinned up in the lower gallery.  Old coffee and cookie trays sit just as we left them the afternoon before as if awaiting another jury.  Adding to the strangeness of the moment, as I start to take  pictures to document our presentation, without a word a group of Asian film makers appear and start to document me.  The cameraman crouches over me as I lean in to get a well-angled shot of our model. 
    I feel like a survivor documenting a catastrophic event.  On my way up to the third floor I walk through the second year studio.  It seems to confirm some calamity;  models, acrylic, paper and cardboard strewn across the desks and floor.  The trash cans are overflowing.  Climbing to the third floor, I finally find signs of life. 
    I see my friend Adam who volunteers to help me move out of studio in his car, I accept, but with more than a week left before graduation, I can't quite bring myself to move everything home so soon.  I like my graduate student life and I'm not quite ready to accept that school is over.   Leaving my desktop computer behind gives me an excuse to come back at least one more time.
I pass the week playing tennis and meeting up with friends each night for various events--a raucous night of karaoke, burgers and beer, or a house party with dancing and ping pong.  The following Friday--the deadline for students to get their stuff out of the building-- I return to Meyerson Hall to retrieve my computer.
      As I pack, the studio passes through my mind--it was better than I had hoped.  Balmond and Snooks' dedication to, and curiosity in, the non-linear design process had taught me if not to completely believe in it, at least to continue to explore atypical possibilities for architecture even as I start to work with the constraints of clients, budgets and city regulations.  And even though our team had a strained relationship and a less than stellar final review, a round of handshakes after the critique confirmed that we are all still friends.  Further, Balmond's encouraging words following the jury will inspire me for some time. 
    With the computer in hand, and another car-owning friend waiting at the back door, I finally leave the building.