I have been thinking more and more on not only teaching but my profession and practice as a designer. Some of those thoughts have manifested themselves in pretend conversations where ideological questions are asked by specters in my head and I am allowed to answer. The answer I gave this morning to one of those questions and or situations I had imagined, struck me as a little bit profound for me.
To set the context I was being asked a very poignant question on my thoughts of a current School of Architecture and the current design field from my perspective by a group of accreditation jurors. My response,
Design programs are equal in that they each provide a nest, a school with an inclusive environment for the student to learn and grow. Their distinction from one another comes from the facilities they dedicate to this environment and the level of expertise/ quality of the professors and assignments given. Student progress can be a quantitative measure through graduate placement, awards won and other measures of the subjective quality of the students that are produced. All in all each school/ institution can provide and does provide a measure of this. In the broad view they are fairly equal.
Where schools and programs separate themselves, gain notoriety and elevate their performance retention and quality of students produced, is when they expand beyond the simple model mentioned above. It is in this next level of facilities, teaching and programs where a myriad of factors can be leveraged and acted upon to produce high quality end results and standards. All of these factors can be summed up in the idea of service.
The design profession is one of service; service to the client, service to the project, service to community, service to a greater whole capitalizing on the unique perspectives and solutions we provide.
Schools, as stated above, can leverage this fundamental concept to a greater degree than just the simple model of servicing the students, but can now provide the students, the program and even the facilities a means to service something larger, the community. This fact is proven to us time and time again as we publicize, as we admire, and as we imitate programs such as Auburn’s own Rural and Urban studios. At the heart of each program is the value of service. It is this value where the school thrives and provides a richer depth of lessons, projects and partners to create, aspire to and lead as a signature program or institution.
It is through the value of service that a student and teacher can elevate both their crafts and careers by understanding, participating and the giving of their talents and also the lessons they have learned.
Service is the value which shows the distinction and elevates the quality that a school, an individual and project can provide.