All Night? All Right? // Josh Rigali
In the academic world of Architecture there is a preconceived notion of what “studio culture” is. There seems to be an expectation that architecture students should live in studio. Pulling all-nighters is a regular activity. Should this be the expectation? I believe students can limit the amount of all-nighters while still completing a high level of work. A culture can still be formed in studio without as many late nights.
From the first time prospective high school students step foot into Seaton Hall at Kansas State University they are told that being an architecture student means you have to work crazy hours and live off of coffee and energy drinks. Yes architecture requires a lot time but there is no need for students, particularly freshmen students to be pulling all-nighters. As incoming students they are told by other students on visits that they will have to pull several all-nighters, and that it is perfectly normal. In fact they are told that it is crazy if they don’t pull all-nighters. There is even an assumption from students in other colleges on campus that architecture students work eat and sleep in Seaton Hall and never leave. Although we do have a heavy work load that requires us to spend a lot of time in studio we should be able to manage to make some free time to get away. Walk by the first year students in their studio and it is apparent that this has effected the mind set of most of the students. They expect to work late hours and for this reason they allow themselves to fall into the trap rather than finding a way to change their situation and properly manage their time.
Working until 4am is not only unhealthy for your body but it is detrimental to a student’s growth as a designer and architect. Student’s health during final production takes a dramatic turn for the worst. Students become overly exhausted, and their immune systems begin to shut down. The number of sick architecture students is directly affected by the amount of late nights they stay up working. Students begin sleeping during the day and working through the night. They become studio hermits only speaking to other architecture students in architecture jargon that no one else understands. This makes it impossible for students to learn proper time management, and communication skills. Students need to learn to use their time during the day to efficiently and effectively get their work done. They also need to spend more time outside of studio talking to people in other majors and disciplines to learn how to communicate and interact with non-architects. Students need to learn to live a well-rounded lifestyle and take time to enjoy life.
I don’t expect Studio culture to change overnight, and I definitely don’t expect all-nighters to cease. Obviously school work has a tendency to get the best of students, and having multiple projects in multiple classes sometimes means their literally is not enough time in the day to avoid working late into the night. That being said they can be limited to just a few a year. Proper time management and a little help from the architecture department can go a long way to help insure this. The first step is to stop creating this assumption that if you want to succeed in architecture you have to deprive yourself of sleep. Students need to know that it is ok to go to bed at a normal hour and that waking up a little earlier and working more during the day is a better system. Limiting the amount of projects at a given time will also go a long way to helping students. Certainly students need to complete projects for several different classes to learn new techniques and skills, but these projects should overlap. If professors could find a way to relate their projects to each student’s studio project it would reduce the amount of time students spend on each project, yet create stronger projects. Students would be able to go into more depth with their projects and work through their designs far past typical schematic design. If classes such as structures or digital architecture were able to incorporate student’s studio projects the students would work harder on them, learn more, and produce more developed and well thought out designs.
The all-nighter can be limited and a healthier lifestyle for architecture students can prevail with a little bit of help. The idea of “studio culture” and the preconceived notions that come with it can be altered. The way architecture school is organized and the expectations of students by themselves and professors can shift to help minimize the amount of all-nighters while maintaining or strengthening the level of work created. This will help better prepare students for the future with in the architecture profession. Studio culture can still be formed during the day, much like it would be in an office environment. Working long hours cannot be avoided and students will always have to work into the night, but not the whole night. Although the occasional all-nighter will still be necessary, they can be drastically reduced while still allowing students to form bonds and create memories, maybe even some memories having fun outside of Seaton Hall.
Written by Josh Rigali