Sunlit Water

June 29, 2008

Checking In

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 9:17 pm

I’ve been in this program for a couple of weeks now.  My impressions so far:

  • It’s an insane amount of work.  Long hours in the studio almost every day.
  • The assignments we’re given are initially presented in a way that is not very explanatory and always requires substantial elaboration and modification later on.  This makes things very stressful and confusing at times.
  • Nevertheless, it’s a great experience and I’m very glad I did it.
  • I do think, however, that it’s not necessarily a model that works as well for planning as for architecture and other heavily design-focused professions.  For one thing, the extremely heavy design focus, involving a lot of drawing assignments and such, is not as useful in planning, where drawing skills are generally not very important.  Also, the studio setup is not that useful a framework for planning projects, which are generally very multifaceted and collaborative, requiring a lot of research and discussion.  Sitting at a desk drawing all day (an oversimplification, to be sure, but from what I’ve seen not a huge one) is a rather different type of activity.
  • This shoehorning of planning into a design-focused setup seems to be typical not just of this program, but of the GSD as a whole.  The graduate planning program revolves mainly around studio classes, which are taken every semester, much as in an architecture program.  While most planning programs involve some studio work, having it be a requirement for every semester is rather extreme, and tends to lead to other classes being given considerably less attention.  This seems problematic for planning, where subject-matter knowledge in addition to problem-solving expertise is rather important.
  • Thus, one of the major things I’ve learned as a result of this program is that while I definitely intend to go to grad school in planning, I definitely will not apply to the GSD or any program like it.  This is a very useful thing to have figured out, because it gives me a much clearer set of criteria by which to evaluate schools than I have had before.
  • All in all, this has been a great experience, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in a career in these fields.


  1. Glad to hear that you’re learning a ton and that includes learning that the studio-centric approach ain’t for you.

    Comment by md 20/400 — June 29, 2008 @ 10:02 pm |Reply

  2. Vague assignments are very much how the so-called real world works. Worse, a client or potential client will not even say that an assignment is available; you have to intuit that there’S a job to be had. Getting practive in that now seems to me a wholly good thing.

    Make friends and get to know faculty at the Keennnedy sSchool of Government! If planning is your thing, there’s going to be lots and lots and lots and lots of politics. Contacts at KSG will stand you in good stead.

    Finally, your comment box doesn’t play very well with Firefox on a Mac. Hence, typos.

    In general though, good luck! This sounds like a terrific experience.

    Comment by Doug — July 1, 2008 @ 5:00 am |Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: