Inside SCI-Arc

Madeleine H.

M.Arch (Sept 2016)
Hometown: New York, NY

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What is it about architecture that drives you?
Architecture, for me, is a creative outlet that embraces learning. I've always loved taking as many opportunities as possible to try something new, and consequently, my interests are as deep as they are diverse. In this field, I can explore the interests I already have while cultivating new ones, with the purpose of applying that knowledge to design. Architecture neatly combines my love of technology, my love of design, and my love of learning into one all-encompassing practice.

Why did you choose to attend SCI-Arc?
I earned my bachelor’s degree at Hampshire College in western Massachusetts, a similarly young and forward-thinking school resistant to self-limiting definitions and tradition. I wasn’t specifically looking for these qualities in a graduate school, but SCI-Arc stood out anyway. When I visited the school, I was immediately struck by the openness of the building, by the wide range of projects on the walls, and by the fact that the school raised thought-provoking questions in presenting itself to applicants. I decided to enroll at SCI-Arc, curious and excited by a school similar to my undergraduate experience, but offering a more focused, intensified environment. Living in a city that embraces experimental architecture (in a climate that can better sustain it) is a distinct bonus.

What are the strengths of SCI-Arc’s curriculum?
I value the exposed nature of the school. Even from the parking lot, there is evidence of an active, project-based program. Inside, all of the studios are open and accessible, and the walls are covered in student work that changes multiple times a day with each class or review. Everything in SCI-Arc is a learning experience: students will stop and look at the work on the walls, regardless of its apparent relevance to their own projects, just to see what other people are doing or to learn something from another point of view. The exhibits in the gallery as well as the numerous lectures hosted on campus, while optional, enrich the experience of being a SCI-Arc student.

What are the defining or unique characteristics of SCI-Arc students?
I'm impressed at the diversity of the student body. Having an east coast background makes attending a southern California school exotic as is, but the large portion of students coming from regions farther removed from my own—international or otherwise—creates a vibrant learning environment. That diversity is more than just geographic: especially in the M. Arch I program, designed for students without a formal architecture degree, there are people of all ages coming from many walks of life, from the student straight out of undergrad to the mother of three who has dreamed of becoming an architect and is finally getting a chance to make that dream happen. The amount of dedication is unlike any I have been involved with before. It is difficult, in a place such as this, to go through a day without learning something new from a classmate.

What is your favorite studio experience?
It’s less of a single experience and more of an overall observation, but I appreciate that, no matter what time of the day I choose to come into studio, I can almost always find someone else in house. My classmates are friendly and supportive. The environment I have experienced so far focuses on collaboration rather than competition, which makes for a positive education.

Have you been involved in projects outside of the required coursework?
I began my SCI-Arc education with Making+Meaning. Meeting some of my classmates in advance of the fall semester was an advantage, and the field trips to exhibits and buildings around a city I had not seen were also beneficial. Hosting thesis presentations and graduation after new student orientation is wise—while the school feels that much more chaotic in that first week, the projects fascinated me and I was excited to see where I could potentially find myself at the end of my program.

What are your plans upon graduation from SCI-Arc? How will your education at SCI-Arc help you achieve your goals in the future? Licensure is the most immediate goal. In keeping with the desire to learn as much as possible, I hope to find myself working in (or even running) a firm that applies its design strengths to all sorts of architecture, and is willing to try a little of anything. But who knows? Graduation and the world beyond are still a long way off, and a lot can change between now and then. My mind and imagination are open to options, and my determination is to succeed in my chosen field.

Kenji H.

"Whether built or not, the creative endeavors we pursue to shape our environment and society are what drives me to become a great architect." Read more >>

Sara L.

"I chose SCI-Arc because I felt the school could give me an educational experience unique to this institution alone, and the ability to think and create architecture in a more engaging and less traditional way." Read more >>

Bryan K.

"SCI-Arc stands out among other architecture schools through its emphasis on form and its hands-on approach to architecture." Read more >>

H Clark

"Traditional school programs work from A to Z, whereas a program like SCI-Arc may work from Z to A, or A to M to K to Y...." Read more >>