i ran into this video the other day (apologies for the screenshot i couldn’t get the embed to work, follow this link to google video to watch the clip) at miragestudio7. the video features heavy hitter starchitects, austrian wolf prix of coop himmelblau on the left and american peter eisenman on the right, as they debate the merits of and the direction of architectural education in the middle of one poor student’s critique. en route to their debate the student endures a couple of thinly veiled as “generic” cheap shots (which are unfortunately very common). for those of you who have had this experience, i’m sure you can empathize. for those of you who can’t let me set the scene. you work tirelessly for months on end on a single project that is both seemingly impossible in its programmatic requirements and overly complicated for sake of being academic. finally, after months of work and days, if not weeks, with little to no sleep, food, or time away from studio you get to present your project to a panel of highly educated, big name, big resume’ architects who sit, and listen for maybe ten minutes before they begin to speak. every critique begins this way and every critique ends like this: a digression into a philosophical debate on the metaphysics of the universe. and for the record, i disagree with mr. eisenman, it’s not an either or situation, there is a lot of grey area in between the two educational options he mentions in the form of an analogy. just critique the student on the merits of his or her work. clearly they don’t know everything you do, you have worked for decades mastering a complicated craft, they stand here before you trying to take their first steps and they would like you to help them. don’t debate the merits of their education or how good of an architect buckminster fuller was, just review their project. start with the basics of concept and design strategies and move your critiques into more and more specific terms like how the building touches the ground or the assembly of their wall section. i find it very hard to believe architects on review panels such as this have no way of metering how far along the student is in terms of architectural education. so please, if you’re ever on a panel, critique and question them yes, but give them direction and guidance not soliloquies and cheap shots.