Lack of architecture class stymies junior

As Jake Goren ’08 sat in Dean Jon Wimbish’s office during the spring of his ninth grade year, overwhelmed and excited by the navy blue spiral book placed in front of him, his eyes lit up when he came across a class entitled “Architectural Design.”

Goren, who has always been interested in pursuing architecture, knew that he had to enroll in Architectural Design as soon as possible, which would have been in his junior year.
So Goren went ahead and signed up for the pre-requisite courses: “Drawing and Painting” and “The History and Art of Modern Europe and the World.”

But Goren experienced a bump in the road when he was given a Curriculum Guide in his 10th grade year. Though it might have looked the same on the outside as the one he was given as a freshman, the inside was lacking.

When Carl Wilson retired in June, his usual class load was split among the Visual Arts department. According to Dr. Art Tobias, chair of the Visual arts department, Architectural Design didn’t have a teacher nor as much interest as Wilson’s other classes, so it was decided that the class would not be included in the 2006-2007 curriculum.

Visual arts teacher Marianne Hall, doesn’t think architecture is a necessary class.

“Even most colleges make students take many pre-requisite classes before they can enroll in an architecture class,” she said. Hall noted that in addition to its art and math roots, architecture has developed into a very technology-based career, making it more difficult to teach at the high school level.

Upper School Dean Vanna Cairns said the architecture class doesn’t exist anymore mainly due to the lack of a teacher who has expertise in the field.

She noted that most specialized classes, like the architecture class, emerge after a teacher has already taught the basic levels of the course for a long time.

“There would never be a Shakespeare class if it weren’t for [Stephen] Bellon” Cairns said. “Thankfully [Jocelyn] Medawar was able to take over the class this year” since Bellon retired.

The same theory can be applied to Wilson’s retirement, except no teacher was able to take over for him, resulting in a suspension of the class.

Since it is a profession that requires expertise in many fields, most colleges that offer architecture are five-year programs. This can be daunting for students with no experience because they are committing to something they have never tried before.

“The class would have given me the necessary introduction into the world of architecture and helped me decide if it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Goren said.

Though the class ceases to exist, Goren hasn’t given up hope on becoming an architect. He even had an internship this past summer at an architecture firm, Johnson Fair Partners,that he hopes to continue next summer.

Since they don’t offer the class anymore, Goren plans to make architecture the basis for his senior body of artwork since it “is the closest thing the school now offers to the architecture class,” he said.

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