Studio plays crucial role in Architecture majors’ college life

Alyssa DeGeorge

An all-work and no-sleep lifestyle forces Kent State architecture students to spend a large part of their semester in studio.

Studio life is an inherent part of the architecture program.

“It’s definitely a culture of it’s own,” said Andrew Hotz, sophomore architecture major.

The floors of the studios are littered with paper trimmings from models and sketches. Supplies, sketches, models — and sometimes a student — also cover the desktops.

Alesha Stiffler, sophomore architecture major, said it’s common to see students sleeping anywhere in studio.

“People have slept underneath desks and on top of desks,” she said. “People have laid on these dirty floors that are disgusting, but when you’re tired, you don’t really care if you wake up and you have glue and paper and tape in your hair.”

Jonathan Tomko, sophomore architecture major, said he goes to his dorm to sleep only if he has time to sleep for more than three hours. He said he spends more time in the studio than in his dorm room and is always thinking about his work.

“Pretty much, when you’re (in the studio), you talk about studio and when you’re outside of the studio, you talk about studio, so basically it’s just all architecture all the time,” Tomko said. “If you’re not up here, your mind is still up here.”

Tawnee Saxon, junior architecture major, said being surrounded by the same people all the time in the studio is hard in the beginning. She said students have to learn to get along no matter what.

“When you come here, you see the same people every single day of your life, and if you don’t want to see them, then you can’t do your work,” Saxon said.

Andre Gomez, junior architecture major, said the time spent together in studio and the intensity of the program elicits competition between architecture students.

“It’s fairly competitive so there’s a lot of kind of working harder than the person next to you,” he said. “At the same time, you’re all trying to get through it together because sometimes you just can’t do it alone.”

David Jurca, an urban designer at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, said based on his college experience at The Ohio State University, there is a competitive nature to staying awake all night.

Students want to convey their dedication to the program to others in the studio, he said. Some students stay up all night when they could have worked more efficiently and slept.

“I’m beginning to think more and more that it’s kind of dumb,” he said. “If you don’t have to, don’t do it. Go to sleep.”

Tomko said interacting with other students in the studio helps with projects.

“As much as you learn from your professor, you also learn from talking to your peers,” he said.

Saxon said seeing other students’ projects inspires her own work.

“You’re not going to learn as much without seeing how other people are doing it,” she said. “(The teachers) don’t give us courses on ‘this is how you build a model,’ ‘this is how you draw.’ They just kind of put us in there and we have to figure it out, and the best way to figure it out is to watch other people doing it.”

Tomko said because they spend so much time working together, many architecture students are friends.

“It’s kind of like we’re a family up here,” he said. “We’re a close-knit group of people on such a big campus.”

Saxon said part of the reason architecture students work so late is because they’re close friends and distract each other.

“If we weren’t so close, maybe we wouldn’t stay up so much; but if we weren’t so close, we wouldn’t have any fun and we’d be stressed out,” she said.

When they’ve been working for hours, the architecture students find creative ways to relieve stress, Saxon said.

Some of the entertainment Saxon described includes pushing each other on rolling chairs or climbing into the cubby of a desk.

Stiffler said they make up games that include X-Acto blade throwing or hiding each other’s things.

Hotz said these stress relievers are even more common during finals week.

“When there’s a lot of people pulling all-nighters, there’s what some people like to call dance parties,” he said. “They blare music and just get away from work for a little bit.”

Saxon said finding creative ways to relieve stress keeps them from going “stir crazy” in the studio.

“You can’t sit in here and just work on your project,” she said. “That’s just too stressful, so you make friends in here and we end up doing stupid things.”

Contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].