In contrast to past studios, the food studio had only one project: the Las Vegas Food Hub. Although this gave us ample time to conduct research and develop an in-depth understanding of the project's issues and potential solutions, it slowed the studio's level of producibles down. People will take as much time as is given them, admittadly including myself. That being said, our final work was much more thorough and professional than ever before, and we were able to spend more time expanding our software skills than we do in a typical short-term project.
Due to the project's unique programs and objectives, students were challenged in the best way to step outside of their comfort zones. We typically stick to streetscapes and landscapes: urban design and placemaking. In this studio, we were challenged to also think like an architect and systems engineer. Although our professor may cringe a little at reading this, I really appreciated the chance to try new things.
The studio prioritized the realization of ideas at fine technical, ergonomic, and economic scales. For this reason, we spent vast amounts of time calculating things like plant sites and energy loads in order to inform our design decisions. In professional practice, all design must operate this way. Since the pragmatic shifts of the 60s and thereafter following McHarg's work with GIS systems and now the more recent economic fall of '08, no cause can trump the all-powerful dollar. If the idea can't pencil out financially, it'll never leave the paper. By no means is this responsibility we have as designers a light and cheery burden to bear. But it is essential to our ability to affect change in the world.
Previous classes' projects have hit ceiling at 1st pass propositions - concepts that don't yet justify their being. Professors have always said, "Don't worry about budget yet. That will come in time." Everyone loves to hear those words. Might as well say, "Go play now kids!" But when the final review swings around and both you and your reviewers know that all the moves you're making aren't justified or calculated, which MATTERS, and that if they were justified and calculated, they would be entirely different moves, it leaves you feeling a bit unaccomplished. And they shrug it off and say that it will come in later studios, but a part of every student looks forward to when they will be able to stand behind their decisions with confidence. This studio and other classes I have taken this semester have kicked that confidence into gear with the tools necessary to make the calculations and the vigor to see them through.
Nothing is as sexy as a big idea that's been beautifully illustrated. Except for a big idea beautifully illustrated that's been scrupulously realized at the finest scales of calculated resolve.