Making the Switch: From Lead to Support //
When we began the year, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) tasked our studio to design a mobile office, located in historic Northeast Kansas City. After working individually to perform background research and programming, three pairs of students were selected to develop a proposal. The goal for each group was to design a unique proposal that would be fabricated by our studio during the spring semester. Matthew Cadle and I spent the majority of the semester exploring a design consisting of four components which would be able to ship as one complete package. All hard work aside, our client selected one of the other three proposals at the final design review.
Entering the spring semester, I accepted the role of budget and scheduling director for the AAFE project. Changing from keeper of design to a support position is a mentally challenging transition that would leave many students apprehensive. I had to dismiss many preconceptions made during my own design process, and invest myself in the proposal of my classmates.
For a student entering the design+make studio, collaboration is an essential skill for success. In order for a project to advance at the pace it must, personal egos must be set aside for the good of the studio. As students, we typically work on projects that do not exceed design development. Until now, our assignments last no longer than a month and do not have the understanding to further develop a program. We work on projects as individuals, which differs from professional collaborative work environments. A built project has numerous parts, each with a different set of problems to be addressed, which requires a team of designers to develop. Design+make’s projects are no different than any of these professional works. The designing does not end once a schematic design has been completed, rather every component is a design problem leading towards the final fabrication.
Students have not yet realized that every piece of a built project including details, materials, and scheduling are design problems with solutions. This notion should be embraced as the director of scheduling and budgeting. Both are delicate challenges, vital to the success of any project. During the education process, our schematic designs usually have no reality of the monetary and time restraints faced in a real project. When I tackled this position, I underestimated its importance, and did not realize that I would be crucial support to the keepers of design intent. Sometimes I must overrule the keepers of design, if their decisions conflict critically with the projects timeline. Our professors remind us that there is always a more efficient or economical way to accomplish something. It is my job to help us collectively discover such a design solution.
Written by Jared Hagedorn