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DUE: Reflection notes for Writing a Thesis

August 30, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

The following readings (which will guide you in the 5 theses assignment) focus on writing a thesis from three angles:

First, Skwire & Skwire (2011) argue for The Persuasive Principal, guiding you towards more compelling writing that is interesting to read.

Second, Lange (2012) explains “How to be an Architecture Critic” and uses examples from our specific field.

Finally, Spector and Damron (2012) illustrate how to craft an architectural thesis.

For your reflection notes in the comment section below, please provide your reaction to these readings by answering the following questions and/or responding to the comments of your classmates:

  • What does having done the reading mean to your current or future practice of architecture?
  • What do you agree with?
  • What do you disagree with (you must disagree with something)?
  • What did you try to—but still don’t—understand?
  • Why does this writer’s work matter to the field of architecture?


August 30, 2015
9:00 pm
Event Category:

24 thoughts on “DUE: Reflection notes for Writing a Thesis”

  1. Skwire
    1. I think that coming up with a thesis topic and statement at the very beginning of a project will help guide the project, especially when you get overwhelmed with all the details, it’s good to step back and remember what your overall ideas for the project is.
    2. I agree that the introduction is the most important part of a paper because if it doesn’t grip the reader’s attention right away they will most likely lose interest.
    3. I don’t think that the thesis statement always needs to be the bare minimum of the idea, I think in some case it can be elaborated on in the introduction.
    4. How if you make a thesis statement too specific can you write a long and elaborate essay?
    5. This writer’s work is important to architecture because it is a profession where you are trying to sell your ideas, so having a clear idea helps you in the designing process to stay focused, but also it also makes it easier to make the client understand the main idea rather than all the little details that go into a building.

    1. A good point that the article makes is that Huxtable doesn’t criticize bad architecture; she observes it and talks about the important details and doesn’t clutter her writing with unnecessary ones. This could be important to me now when presenting my projects; I should leave out the little details and only talk about what I think is important about my design.
    2. I agree that it is very easy to disrupt the balance of a space. One cheap looking apartment building in the view of a beautiful plaza will ruin that space.
    3. I don’t agree that the Red Cube is “just right” for the space and I don’t think it can be comparable to a Roman plaza; it seems out of place and awkward and you can’t really interact with it, it just sits and people walk by it.
    4. I don’t understand how “plop art” sculptures can be lesser or higher in status from one another. What makes this Red Cube any better or worse than say the Bean sculpture in Chicago.
    5. In architecture it is critical to consider space and I think the writer really wants to push that because a person’s interaction with the building and space brings an emotion to them which determines whether the space works or not.

    Spector and Damron
    1. This reading has some very good points and tips on being organized with notes which will be beneficial when I’m researching a thesis topic
    2. I agree that keeping a notebook with notes, ideas, and resources can really help you find an original idea for a thesis to explore.
    3. The article says not to get attached to good ideas because sometimes it’s good to throw them away; I disagree I think it would be more beneficial to ignore them for a time and then come back to them with maybe a new perspective on it.
    4. I don’t understand what goes into “justifying a design decision”. I wish that would have been elaborated on more.
    5. This article matters to architecture because organizing thoughts and information about a thesis topic is necessary when designing something original.

  2. Be clear and concise.

    Wether writing, critiquing, or designing to put your best foot forward your main idea(s) need to be readable to your subjecting audience. These readings (by Skwire & Skwire, Lange, and Spector and Damron) bring forth the importance, and emphasize to myself, in a well crafted execution of thesis. In architecture, the design, no matter its elegance or complexity, lack persuasion if it cannot be easily “read”/ The final product has to sell itself, its thesis render the beholder as intriguing if not absolute.

    Overall, the readings were invitingly helpful and agreeable. Skewer’s remarks about the validity of a thesis being primary in thought holds very true for me. When the main idea is lost, what supports what lays behind it? In following main statements, Lange’s “How to be an Architecture Critic” consistently emphasized understanding and building the ability to critique architecture in the public. I firmly believe that the citizens in which our buildings/structures effect have the most intellect on the matter. They are the most influenced by the buildings presence and therefore should have the most influence of the piece of work as well.

    Although quite descriptive, the concepts occasionally lacked. “…writing with a thesis gives a paper an intrinsic dramatic interest (Skwire & Skwire, 2011)” is not completely true. For knowing the precise concept to regard while writing adds to clarity of the task it may also blind and make frustrating attempts to support a thesis. Revision of a thesis may be necessary if the conclusion is fixated at another point previously disregarded. But what makes a good thesis? Generally covered by these articles, I found a bit of confusion regarding what differentiates a design thesis to a writing one. Spector and Damron remark that a design thesis references to new takes on current perspectives and traditional writing reviews past or current views, but in my mind they integrate themselves too easily for as simple a description. If I’m correct in this finding, what truly separates them?

  3. A significant point that I determined from these readings is that the design process is exactly the same as the writing process. A good design project will pull ideas from outside sources, have prep work, drafts, revisions, and edits. The writing process works to define a main point and support it throughout the paper. All architecture projects have the parti diagram showing the main concept that is supported by the rest of the design. Additionally, a large part of papers is transitions, which translate to architecture in the form of continuity throughout the design. The way a paper displays its argument is also relatable to the design process. When a presentation is assembled for a client it is displaying the argument as to why that design is the best one for the clients needs.

    Another major parallel I observed is between the thesis statement and the design concept. The thesis of a paper works to show the main point in a focused way. A design project had a concise, specific concept that the rest of the design is based off of and exemplifies. Also, the thesis statement sets a tone for the rest of the paper just as the design concept sets the tone for the rest of the project. By the end, the concept may not be explicitly evident, but it underlies and supports the entire design. Additionally, a thesis is developed the same way a design concept is developed. Through research and notes the concept can be narrowed down into the focused final product that is desired for the project. The Theses article advises the use of a research journal, which I believe is a very good method to keep track of the development of the main concept. However, the Theses article also mentions that if a reading does not result in any ideas, then it was a waste of time. This is definitely not true. Everything that is read or seen influences the final product. If the reading does not generate ideas, it serves to narrow down what is going towards the final concept. It helps determine what is not going to be in concept, which helps find more relevant sources.

    A different but equally important point addressed refers to citizen critics. Critiques from citizens interacting with or just walking by architecture on a daily basis are the most important critiques of all. It doesn’t matter if a famous architect likes the building if the building is unable to fulfill the function it is meant for. The only way to know if the building truly works is to hear from the occupants of the building. Additionally, the building cannot be truly successful if the general public who see it everyday think it is a total eyesore. The public opinion matters because it is their community that the building is imposing on and therefore their opinion should be treated as one of the most important.

    All of these points are very important to the future of the architectural profession. The parallels between the writing process and the design process can be taken advantage of and modified to result in a design that ends up notably different from current work. Process changes can allow for elements that may not be considered standard or normal to appear in designs. The addition of citizen critique will also add to the changes to hopefully push architects to be able to better design to the client and occupant needs. This would result in more widespread usage of a new process that has the potential to remove the bland sameness that plagues many buildings today.

  4. ‘Ouch’ is the first thought that comes to my head after waking up to some of the content in these articles. Saturday morning’s dull skies were a perfect environmental complement to the sort-of intellectual and psychological atmosphere evoked in these pieces.

    DISCLAIMER. I will only express my dissatisfaction from what I learned from these articles in a more brief and controlled manner, keeping in interest “brevity, concision, and writer’s ‘efficiency.'” Though I warn you, if you’re current mood and psychological state disinterests you from inhaling a young, snarky college boy’s discontent and stark disagreement, please move on to the next comment.

    These three articles sought to inform and educate us as to improve to creative processes, to express ourselves on paper, and to critique– both of which are IMMENSELY important processes to any creative work, architecture being only one example.


    The Spector-Damron and Skwire articles intended to introduce us to concepts of effective writing, prioritized around the all-important thesis, in order to suggest more efficient ways of writing to better express our ideas and concerns. Agreeing with the suggestion of these articles, the thesis is probably the most important ‘part’ of one’s piece of writing. Even the language of that last sentence is too conditional and under-crediting of how important the thesis really is. The thesis IS the paper. The thesis IS the idea. The thesis IS the spark in one’s head that inspires them to write. The thesis is represented in one coherent, important sentence, but the thesis as an entity is really much larger than just the sentence. To reiterate, the thesis is the paper, and significant time should be taken by the writer to develop and strengthen it.

    There aren’t too many specific points that either of these articles made that poisoned my interest in reading them. My dissatisfaction derives from the overall OBJECTIVE and INTENTION of these articles. Of the two, the Skwire article does less damage. Skwire understands that “teaching how to write” to a more adult audience is better effective when left at a series of logical and sensible tips and ideas, common-sense ideas that should register fast in most people’s brains, “oh well of course, I totally agree.” It is merely difficult to swallow at times as it is the same generic teach-to-write literature we’ve drowned ourselves in since that one class we’ve all had in eighth grade, the one with bitter middle-aged writing teacher who’s so conservative to the traditions of her 1960s youth that she can only snark and condescend to the potential ambitions of our generation, and force her own conventions down our throats.

    “Good writing is this. Good writing is that.” While there certainly lie objective truths as how to write well, it is a hard practice to teach. It is such an open and highly creative process that most efforts at teaching writing really, in effect, streamline and sterilize our styles into a more narrow range of voices, that today have become increasingly founded upon values of concision, efficiency and economy– the values of our American culture that seem to root in the Industrial Revolution. These ‘values’ are increasingly finding their way into writing, and I personally see that as dangerous. Allow yourselves to juxtapose the concepts of “creative writing” with “economy and efficiency” and think about the starkness of that contrast, and the relationship they really should have.

    The Spector-Damron articles falls a little heavier into this ‘danger’ category, from my eyes at least. There’s a very specific sentence that carries a giant red flag that waved right in front of my face.

    “In this chapter, the process of thesis writing is divided into a series of steps augmented by suggestions to help keep you efficient and productive.”

    Let me excuse myself as I run to throw up the rest of the Thai food I ate last night. God, does my stomach rumble.

    It’s an innocent action on behalf of those authors. Are creative processes improved by breaking them down into a logical sequence of steps? Absolutely. However, what steps are these? Whose steps are these?

    Often, teach-to-write literature overcomplicates how the writing process really should be, and intends to overly mathematize the creative process of writing as if it could actually be solved by some objective formula. Physically diagram in your sketchbooks the idea of introducing mathematically rigid processes to the open and organic world of writing, and you will easily visualize the objective pain that I usually feel when reading articles like this.

    Am I exaggerating? Yes. By no means do these articles imply a sort of “commanding tone”, that you HAVE TO use these rules, that YOU MUST abide by this conventional wisdom. These articles responsibly inject conditional tones, and clarify that they are merely suggesting, understanding that the writing process, as is any creative process, is highly personal and individualized to the specific creative person, and cannot be broadly streamlined into a conventional wisdom of fixed principles. It is merely the culture of overexposure to literature like this, that sometimes makes even the most “suggestive” of tones irrelevant. If it is so consistently in our face, it becomes coercive.

    The fundamental challenge of producing teach-to-write literature is finding the balance between asserting logical and structural principles that truly do improve writing, while respecting the fact that it should be interpreted with a grain of salt. It is best to understand teach-to-write literature and all curricular instruction in writing we’ve received since grade school, merely as training wheels. We grow up using such principles to fill the vacuum we all arrive to the writing world with. However, upon our maturity as writers, our maturity as thinkers, the training wheels should be taken out, and put in the most obscure closet of your house where you keep the things you haven’t touched in 10 years, if not burn them.

    The best advice in writing I ever received was simply the idea that ‘your writing is simply your personality projected on paper’, and that ‘good writing is simply your good thoughts on paper’. All of its organization, all of its structuring, all of its nitpicking details will grow and develop with you if you are able to accept your voice as confident and legitimate, which all of our voices are. The rest will, after iterations of practice, fall into place.


    Regarding the Alexandre Lange article, which I will discuss more briefly, it overall was good exposure. However I found her attempt at educating us weak, as she solely referenced the strength and style of only one critique! If the author was more generally interested in providing us information on “how to be a good critique”, she would have cited other examples, different and contrasting, to allow us to understand that successful critique occurs across a spectrum of styles and philosophy. Rather, the article felt like we were being forced to revere this one historical critique’s opinions, while certainly articulate, illustrative and effective, as was discussed, were to me almost as narrow as the streets of Lower Manhattan she show fruitfully described. In having no other examples, the article seemed to define “good critique” as almost HAVING to be in Huxtable’s style, and I would even say it evoked the idea that a good critique may also even have to carry Huxtable’s TASTES. As most of you have kept up with my annoying snapchat this summer, you’ll imagine I’m rather sensitive to how people characterize New York, her taste in comparing everything to some either Renaissance or Baroque precedent, and believing successful environmental design occurs only when the entire neighborhood is calculated to the tee, is certainly not what I believe.

  5. The Persuasive Principle – Skwire & Skwire

    This article begins with a barrage of applicable topics in every day life, not of which are pertinent to architecture, yet closes the introduction by stating “all writing can benefit from a commitment to the persuasive principle: Develop a thesis ad then back it up” (Swire, 1). This is not only true of writing about or speaking on architecture, but also in the design process. By picking a clear and pertinent point to base your design around you can more logically organize your design and likely improve it as a whole.

    The topic of limiting your subject is relevant in much the same way. Focusing your argument is a much better way to avoid spreading yourself thin and not achieving as much rather than trying to approach something from every possible angle.

    Another key point group up in this piece was the diversification/specialization of writing on a specific topic. Starting with analyzing the varieties of sub-topics contained within a much broader topic and then narrowing down to one point or incident, you gain a more concise viewpoint on one issue.

    A couple points of this writing did seem slightly overly-optimistic or idealistic in the skills of a writer. One instance of such hat stood out to me is that “Writing a thesis gives a paper a sense of purpose and eliminates the problem of aimless drift”(Swire, 4).

    While a thesis can help improve the focus of an essay the is equal likelihood that a poor author could lose focus in spite of having chosen a wonderful thesis.

    How to be an Architecture Critic – Lange

    Right from the start this article seemed both necessary and relevant. In the modern age the general public possesses an increasingly diversified base of knowledge due to technology.

    Despite this many people seem relatively unaware in the idiosyncrasies present in Architectural critique despite its subject being omnipresent. This also will hold the designers of strip malls and McMansions alike accountable for this work.

    One of the key point of her analysis of the critique is the relation of buildings and one space, in the form of scale. Something that has been forgotten in design and urban planning much more frequently as of late. This article also brings up the point of relevancy of renderings in the current state of architecture.

    Although digital visualization is discussed, it is dismissed in an old-guise way that fails to mention its massive aid in visualization for clients and accountability on proposed visions.

    Finally, the call to action at the end of this piece truly backs up the preceding paragraphs and hopefully and inspire a few readers to take up the torch.

    Thesis – Spector & Damron

    One of the points brought up towards the front end of this piece is the fact that writing element should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about a thesis. While the idea is undoubtedly crucial, conveying it to an audience may be even more so.

    The idea of both reading a variety and volume of work followed by writing your thoughts on them seems is undoubtedly a good practice. To expose yourself to a variety of viewpoints, both similar to and varying from your own allows you to better focus and expand upon your thesis. This can also aid you in future selection of reading materials based on trends of relevance or points about works that have already been read.

    A majority of this article seems to be reiterated versions of commonplace research paper suggestions and ‘good practices’. While beneficial, not necessarily something new or particularly noteworthy due to its lack of specialization on thesis.

  6. The Persuasive Principle (Skwire & Skwire) & Theses (Spector and Damron)

    Both “The Persuasive Principle” and “Theses” center discussions on the importance of a thesis. A thesis can be constructed through two mediums: written of visual. In the architecture field, both means are used to ignite justify design decisions. From my understanding, architects refer to the thesis as the parti of a project. It is an expression of thought that persuades the audience of its validity and need. It is also (as discussed in “The Persuasive Principle”) a structured proposal that is focused on a limited subject in a general area of knowledge. The more specific a design is, the greater its appeal is likely to be.

    Some will argue that an ideal parti is wholly inclusive –that it informs each aspect of a design configuration. Needless to say, the parti is influential from the structural system to the faucet handle. However, others will argue that the parti is neither attainable nor desirable. These critics approach design with nonspecific in an effort to appeal to all audience members (and reach no one).

    In critiques, it can seem that audience members fall into the middle of these two sides. They encourage a thesis to exist, but suggest advice that is not germane to the proposal. In most critiques, I do not see my audience as supporter and dissenters of my thesis. Instead, I recognize that there exists two factions: supporters of my proposed thesis and supporters of a different thesis (one not proposed or yet imagined). Thus, my question is as follows: How can a strong thesis be created an audience adopts or rejects? It is my hope that a critique can be constructive with one goal in mind: developing (and re-developing) the parti a student has suggested –not starting anew.

    How to be an Architecture Critic (Lange)

    In his Kindergarten Chats, Louis Sullivan once said that “a proper building grows naturally, logically, and poetically our of all its conditions.” His quote parallels the theme around Huxtable’s critique style: “that what is around the architecture as much the building in question, calling our attention to what is really important to get right.” Throughout the article, Lange’s suggests that Huxtable’s writings provide an Architecture 101 guide for the common person. Her four features (description, history, drama, and point) of “Sometimes We Do It Right” work toward making more architecture critics in the world. In other words, she lifts the fog that shrouds the understanding of architecture.

    I once heard from a professor that if you cannot explain your ideas to your parents (in terms that they understand), then you do not know your subject well enough. Huxtable mimics this notion. She does not use overly complex language, but communicates her knowledge in an everyday vernacular. This feat is a testament to her expertise in the subject.

    Although it is a nice gesture to enlighten the everyday person, it can sometimes seem as a sacrifice to the architect. To some, it may feel that the true parti of a design is being adapted to suit a client whose knowledge is more limited –and thus limiting the design. Thus, is it the responsibility of the designer to condition to understand the designs? As an architect, are we to give the people what they want or help them understand what they need?

  7. The Persuasive Principal – Skwire & Skwire
    Not being well educated about the topic of thesis and how to effectively write one, has given this reading a great value for me. This will not only help me choose wisely my thesis statement, it will also help me effectively write one. The main point I found on this reading is that in order for a thesis to be successful, you must be specific with your idea and emphasizes why this thesis is important and valid to the audience through persuasion. I must agree with the statement that narrowing down a main idea to a more specific point within the idea can certainly help you write a better paper. In order to successfully persuade your audience, you must strongly give them valid statements about your topic and convince them that you know what you’re talking about. Therefore, having a “limited subject” as they title it (which makes you think what belongs on your paper and what doesn’t) makes it much easier for you to convince your audience why this topic matters, and also will help you get well educated on the topic. On the other hand, I don’t find it necessary to extend your thesis statement if it has been specific enough. Overall, the entire principles of writing a thesis expressed on this particular reading can help the architectural designing process as well; in order to create a unified design, you must focus on a specific idea, and also implement the principles of persuasion so that your audience find your design relevant.

    How to be an Architecture Critic – Lange
    This article gives us an insight on how we are in need of more citizen critics on architecture and how to effectively become one by describing how Huxtable successfully execute architecture criticism. This particular topic can help an architect develop more on the architectural world since critiquing can help you experience many viewpoints and techniques. Lange states “You cannot discern what works unless you have seen it, touched it, and experienced it in person”. This is something I undeniably agree with. One of the main points of critiquing is not only observing, but also physically experiencing the building. The physical experience you have on a building creates a connection with you and makes the building speak to you making it much easier for you to critique the structure. I don’t necessarily agree when lange mentions “What differentiates one corner, one neighborhood or one city from another is the ratio of building to open space”. This is somewhat true, but I believe that something like culture can originate more of distinction between neighborhoods. This topic is really important to the architecture world because involving the citizens, can help improve the buildings since we will know what is the public demanding.

    Theses – Spector and Damron
    This reading has gone more specific about the thesis topic on the architecture world which communicate to the reader what are the main steps you should take in order for you to develop an acceptable thesis. The tips expressed throughout the readings can become of great help when that time comes of starting to write your thesis. One of the ideas stated that I found very compelling was the importance of keeping notes and having a journal when it comes to exploring thesis topics. Recording as much as you can in your journal will help you look back at things that we once read, listened or observed that will help you develop your thesis topic. I also found it very clever for the them to compare how writing is much like the design process with the notes they made about Mathew Frederick’s “101 Things I learned in Architecture School”. Furthermore, can someone make “excessive claims of importance”? How can this affect your thesis topic? Making as much claims of importance can only make your topic stronger and valid. The reading in general is trying to make the architect more comfortable, and confident when it comes to theses which is a great step forward since thesis is typically seen as a very hard and frightening process.

  8. 8/29/15 Theory Reflection Notes

    “How to Be an Architecture Critic” -Alexandra Lange

    I like how she focuses on the importance of understanding space. Whether is is boundaries or open versus used space, the way we organize buildings and plan the spaces around them has a huge impact on the area as well as the building. I also appreciate that critic Huxtable is in it for the people. The community and people of Manhattan should have the say in the buildings that they will be surrounded by for the rest of their lives. The writing also focuses on how the buildings make you feel rather than just how they look. One of the things that I did not like about this article is that the reader never gets a final opinion on what Huxtable really thinks of the building over all. I also don’t agree with her description of the red cube. I think that it seems a bit out of place and as mentioned, could be considered plop art. After reading this article, my appreciation for critique is much higher. The descriptions and images that are created through the quotes are astonishing and give you a true sense of the building. Some times I think as architects we get lost in the graphics and presentations and forget about the power of our words. Being able to critique buildings as well as vividly describing them is a feat in itself. This writers work matters in the field of architecture because we are constantly critiquing out work as well as others. In an ever changing world is is important to see where we have come from, what we learned, and what new things we are producing.

    “The Persuasive Principle” -Skwire & Skwire

    I like that a thesis gives you a baseline to always go to when you run into road block. I also agree with the idea that all writing can be persuasive. We are being persuaded to do things in our everyday lives and effectively writing with persuasion makes all pieces stronger. I think a thesis should be all encompassing while being as brief and clear as possible; limiting the subject will make the writing more efficient and successful. On thing about this passage that I did not enjoy is that to preaches brevet and that a thesis statement should be short and to the point, but then later mentions that you could have a paragraph that is all encompassing of the thesis. This writing is important for the field of architecture because it speaks about relevancy in many ways. Often in the profession we get lost in the details and obsessed over minute things. In essence, having a thesis statement for everything you do will keep things relevant as well as organized and efficient. The only thing from this reading that seems a bit unclear to me is how exactly this can apply to a studio project when I don’t have a basic design. I think the idea of a thesis would be helpful is staying on track with a project but would you create it with conceptual design or design development? Where would this practice fit into my schooling?

    “These” -Spector and Damron

    I really like that this piece is well defined. In terms or being helpful in how to write a thesis, it is very constructive. One of the things that I picked out as helpful is that have a well defined question and topic will making the entire writing process smoother and your thesis stronger. As far as how this article effects me, I really like that it stresses that you should find a rhythm within yourself. It is important to have an independent flow of how you work as well as doing it regularly. One of the things about this article that I did not like was that it sort of frowns on proposing a brand new idea as a thesis, but rather to rethink something else. I think that a successful thesis can be wither one of these things. The difference between using jargon and everyday words was a bit confusing to me. It says that there is an inside audience but should the work be written to them, or everyday people?

  9. Thesis- the backbone of all arguments and designs

    Architects and designers must convince a client his/her vision is possible. In order to achieve this a designer must formulate a design that serves the client’s needs and conveys the message of what the client stands for. These three articles are important to the field of architecture because they demonstrate how to achieve this goal effectively. Skwire and Skwire and Spector and Damron provide guidelines on how to carefully craft a thesis, whether in design or academia and how to convey an architect’s thesis to people in an efficient and interesting manner. Without interest a project never makes it off the drawing board. Lange demonstrates how to critique architecture like a “pro” in layman’s terms so that citizen critics have a voice. Learning this skill better equips architects on how to critique their own designs as well as others through the eyes of the user. This then leads to editing and refining designs before lines on a page become structures on site. Citizen critics will also lead to more community driven projects and better relationships with between architects and clients.

    I agree that a powerful argument needs to stem from a carefully crafted thesis. Supporting details and ideas must also accompany the thesis to convince the reader of the idea proposed. Not only does the thesis have to convey the purpose of the paper or design, in as a few words as possible, but it also has to captivate the audience’s attention and convince them to continue reading or examining the work in front of them. With that said I do not agree that the more restrictive a thesis statement is, the better. When an author or designer restricts himself with an idea so specific it isolates the audience and thus makes it harder for the work to garner appreciation and feedback from people outside that specific field of expertise. However, too broad of a thesis also leads to a more difficult main idea to prove and does not reach an audience at all. There must be balance. I also disagree that the thesis does not have to appear openly. When a thesis is hinted at it makes it more difficult for the audience to immediately understand the premise of the paper. Whether it is design or prose the thesis or main design concept should be clear, concise, and reach an intended target audience. Without an audience we will continue to walk the streets oblivious to our surrounding environment.

    The thesis, a basis for all arguments, needs to be clear, concise, and backed by supporting evidence and details. After reading all three of these pieces I have learned that whether one is writing a paper for an English class or designing the next skyscraper in New York, the concept for both must be apparent and recognizable by the desired audience. By overcomplicating the main focus and adding unnecessary details, the drive for the project is lost and leaves the audience uninterested. To insure an argument or design’s success, it must come about through careful research and numerous iterations to insure that the final product captivates its audience and leaves them with a satisfactory understanding of the material in front of them. This allows the audience to make informed opinions on the subject so that they may make critical observations of their own. Lange made an excellent point that more people, that are not technically architecture critics, need to make critical observations of the world around them so that they can change what they do not like. As citizens and architects we have this incredible power to change the built environment so why not make intelligent and informed decisions before designing something “the people” do not need. As I continue to pursue my architectural career armed with this knowledge, I now know how to better craft powerful and interesting designs, critique the world around me, and write intelligently about what I observe and propose changes if necessary.

  10. The Persuasive Principal – Skwire & Skwire (2011)

    This article asserts that all successful writing is persuasive. I agree that a thesis is central to forming the organization, purpose, and interest because it gives your writing a central point of discussion that can clearly be argued for or against. However, I disagree that the thesis for a short writing piece differs from the thesis for an essay. The concept of a thesis is applicable to all writing forms.
    I tried to understand the differences between restricted and specific. I believe these qualities are intertwined when describing a thesis but the author uses them separately.
    The author suggests the concept of “limiting your subject” when writing and I think this is most relevant to the field of architecture because specificity creates interest. One example that comes to mind is the image of the “church for everyone” with no visitors next to the “church for one-eyed purple people eaters” with a full crowd. Although relating to fewer, the purple church appeals to more because of its specificity. Similarly, by making a thesis, your writing becomes purposeful. This point affects my current and future practice of architecture both in design and in writing to clients. Having read this article, in my current and future design I will develop more interesting architectural forms by having a clear design thesis or intention. In my writing to a potential clients, I will need to assert my design intent with this thesis.

    How to be an Architecture Critic – Lange (2012)

    It is refreshing to hear the author express a desire for architecture to be discussed with a focus other than money. I agree that all viewers of architecture are critics. In order to effectively critique, they need a voice in the architectural process. The daily user should not settle for a passive role in the design of his surroundings. Architecture would benefit from a fundamental understanding of design by all.
    I don’t understand the idea that people will become better architecture critics simply by viewing more of the built environment. It is one thing to see and appreciate the asthetics of a structure, but there needs to be education to support what you see.
    I disagree with the claim that the ratio of building to open space is the ultimate differentiation of one architectural element to another. Open space is important, but no building, like no open space, is ultimately the same. Therefore, the qualities of one building to another are also important differentiations.
    This writing is poetic in its view of architecture. This reading gives an emphasis on critique which is essential to the field of architecture. Without critique there is no progress. Critique is important to my practice of architecture as a student because I am learning from the past in order to prepare for design of the future. I will constantly seek to be an active critic in the built environment.

    Spector and Damron (2012)

    I agree with the organization that the article suggests is crucial to writing a thesis, especially with the early stages of assembling information. It is important to have a system as the structure for an idea that has yet to be defined by a system. A journal is key to the development of thoughts and ideas. In order to solve a problem, the transition from abstract thoughts to concrete plans must occur. The continuous development of personal thoughts is well documented in the form of a journal.
    I disagree that the only audience to be considered as the reader should be the thesis committee. It is beneficial to interpret the information with various audiences in mind. By considering a different audience, you may discover something essential to your argument.
    I do not understand the idea that themes must have symmetry to them. In the early stages of research and drafting, I think gathering information that provides contrasting views would be most helpful.
    The thesis is important to the field of architecture because it gives purpose and concept to form. Being able to reflect on an issue, research and put your ideas into words is crucial to architecture. The information in this reading has provoked my thoughts on my own thesis in my education and practice of architecture. I am reminded that I will develop a thesis not only in school, but continuously in practice if I want to be a successful architect.

  11. The Persuasive Principle
    Skwire has hit an interesting point that I’m surprised I have not yet heard through all my years of schooling. “All writing can benefit from the persuasion principle: Develop a thesis, then back it up,” She simply states. We as architects need to be able to convince others of the power of our designs, and we can use the persuasive principle to get there. The Persuasive Principle will be helpful in creating an effective writing and speaking style to use when communicating with clients, co-workers, and peers. It should be noted that all architects could benefit from using this concept to also strengthen their written and verbal works, since we all share one common goal: gain the confidence of the client. My only point of disagreement and misunderstanding with Skwire’s writing comes from the need to so finely define exactly what a thesis is. I personally feel as if all the rules mentioned may make it harder for beginners to grasp definitely what a thesis truly is. I understand Skwire’s goal in clearly determining what a thesis maybe, but would personally encourage more independence from writers

    How to be an Architecture Critic
    Lange starts his article with a beautiful statement that I think properly set the mood for the paper, saying “People come and go, but Architecture lives on, acting on a role in the city long after the original players are gone.” I personally love his idea that there should be more “citizen critics” of architecture. I think it is all too easy for architects to get caught up in their own creative ideas and motivations and forget about the day to day users of the building. Opening the discussion and design to more people than the commissioning client and architect could only benefit the design and would resolve in an overall better building for all users. In my practice, I hope to utilize this in my future work with clients and remember to research the users of the building and keep them at the top of my list of important building factors. On the other hand, I do question the everyday person’s ability to knowledgeably criticize architecture. Lange suggests the everyday person learn to read buildings, urban plans, and renderings, something we go to school for up to seven years to learn to do it correctly. I have faith the average person can give his opinion on how a space makes him feel, too big, too crowded, too dark, too noisy, without needing to understand the all of the technicalities involved. Having the building user share these opinions will benefit all architects and their designs across the profession.

    Spector & Damon
    I can honestly say that I hope to return to this source when I begin to write my thesis. I found Spector and Damon’s logic on writing a thesis to be extremely easy to follow and truly helped break down and simplify the task. I particularly liked their comparison of writing a thesis to the design process in the later parts of the chapter. The comparison clarified the whole process and related it to something I have already experienced, making the task a little less daunting. I believe that several student architects could benefit from this reading and use this valuable advice to begin thesis work. However, I find it hard to agree completely with their statement regarding that good designers know when to drop good ideas. Perhaps I am misunderstanding their meaning, but I personally think that if you think of a golden thesis thought, it should be included in your work! There is a reason that idea is good in the first place, why throw it away just because you think it does not ‘fit in’ with your work? I believe every idea is worth exploring.

  12. Skwire, S. E. and D. Skwire. 2011. Chapter 1: The persuasive principal

    As I read through the chapter of The Persuasive Principal, by Skwire, S.E. and D. Skwire I began to realize how I’ve never had a proper thesis/design concept for any of my projects. Writing and coming up with theses has always been a difficult task for me. Not being able to come up with theses for my projects in studio has made it difficult to convey my ideas to my professors, most the time they wind up telling me what my own project is, which I find to be frustrating. I’m hoping as I practice more writing and brainstorming theses it will become easier for me to convey my ideas and for them to be presented more clearly. When I read It’s important for an architect to learn the importance and skill of writing proper theses so that when they present their ideas to their clients they won’t be at a loss of what their architect is trying to explain to them. However, is there such thing as a thesis becoming too overly specific? I understand and agree that the thesis statement needs to be concise but can it be too narrow? I don’t fully agree that you need to persuade your audience that you are 100% correct throughout the whole argument. I think it is important that I can show my audience there are other positions on the topic at hand.

    Spector and Damon Theses: How Architects Write

    KEEP a Journal!
    I didn’t realize how important keeping a written journal of my thoughts about architecture were until after this reading. Although I typically hate writing, I feel as though I need to get another sketchbook and just make it strictly my thought book of architectural ideas. I definitely plan on coming up with some sort of writing schedule as suggested in the reading otherwise I definitely won’t do it. Making this separate journal will definitely help keep my thoughts organized throughout my career. usually I just use scrap pieces of paper laying around that usually wind up getting thrown away. I love how the author encouraged the reader to explore ALL their ideas and dreams in their journal, no matter how outrageous or unorthodox they may be; who knows maybe one day that crazy idea I had has the potential of being my thesis later on.

    I found it interesting how when the author was describing the process of writing a thesis how it was mentioned that professors don’t think their comments are just “throwaways.” I know that they have more wisdom but that doesn’t mean that they are always right. I think that it’s acceptable to say that professors should consider that some of their comments ARE throwaways.

    The writing process of a thesis and the design process of architecture are extremely similar to each other that I find it ironic how much I hate writing. However, the important takeaways for myself from the reading are that I need to be CONCISE, I need to EXPLORE my ideas more, BE organized, and most importantly don’t be afraid to express the weakness of the methods used.

    Lange A. How to be an Architecture Critic

    I got frustrated within the first paragraph or so with this reading. It seemed to start having a focus on how everyday citizens should become critics of architecture, but how can they? Do everyday people have the same training and eye as an architect does? Architects see the world completely different than a financial advisor or a scientist does so how can we expect them to start critiquing the buildings we design. I understand to and extend that everyday people can be the critics of the spaces we design since they are the ones who use them more often than the architect who designed that space I’m sure does.

    I like how the author discussed how we an architect should critique. Her listing the steps about setting the mood, scene and theme in the opening paragraph, then how you would need to move into the historical aspect of the topic so you build up credibility and then you have to add drake, making that connection for the audience how the architecture looks to how the architecture makes you feel. Then probably the most important step is how Huxtable is able to present an idea in no more than 1200 words and people are able to immediately understand Huxtable’s vision. However, with all that said, there was a statement made about how “the critic is an editor: to make a visual argument, you have to cut out much of what you see” (Lange A. 2012). Why do we cut out most of what we see? Is that to make our argument stronger? Isn’t that making the vision what we WANT it to look like and not how it actually is?
    Ultimately the main idea I am taking away from this reading for my architectural career is how I have to have an impact with my words just as much with my visual presentation. How I present to the clients and reviewers is extremely important in making them understand my vision and what I see I can do to help make the space they want to live, work, shop or eat in.

  13. The Persuasive Principle: Skwire & Skwire

    I agree with the Skwire’s idea that the most vital part of the paper is the introduction. If it lacks the ability to pull in an audience and make them stop and think about the questions you’re posing, then the rest of the paper will probably lack conviction and lose the interest of the reader as well. I also like what they think about the thesis needing to be concise and simplified, with elaborated supporting information in the main body of the paper. This way you can clearly describe your stance on the subject. I didn’t like how they contradict this by later saying that you can make your thesis an entire paragraph. This article is important to the field of architecture because it preaches that everything you write should be in service of proving the point of your main idea and theme, which is exactly what the design process is all about. You develop a concept to drive the building and from there every idea, every detail and every decision should enforce that concept.

    How to Be an Architecture Critic: Alexandra Lange

    I thought this writing was extremely insightful on the significance of the critic to architecture. Without critique, there are no improvements or innovations, and ultimately no excitement in our field. I also agree with her thoughts on open versus building space. Without an understanding of how the two interact with and balance each other the layout of a city won’t work for the people that inhabit it. I don’t fully agree with her thought that all people can be critics of architecture. I think that they should definitely have a voice in the design and what they want in their own city. However, I think that in order for them to be effective in critiquing the architecture they should have a base level education to understand the structure and design. This writing is hugely important to architecture because it describes the importance of expressing your opinion and and appreciating the design of our cities rather than taking a passive role. By idly sitting by instead of voicing your observations and thoughts you prevent progress from happening.

    Theses: Spector & Damron

    I liked that this writing was very clear about the steps to take when preparing to write a thesis. Their suggestion of keeping a journal to record your ideas and thoughts is one of the most important things that I picked out of this article. I think that it is a great idea and it will help you streamline the process of narrowing down and finding your thesis topic. Another thing that I liked is that when you are given feedback you can’t be choosey of which comments to fix and which ones can go unaddressed. All feedback whether positive or negative needs to be taken into account in order for your thesis to be fully developed. One thing I didn’t like is that they seem discourage you from doing something that’s never been done before for your thesis. They instead promote refining a pre existing idea. I think this is important to architecture because as an architecture student who is almost halfway through the program, it is important to start thinking about a thesis topic and begin doing preliminary research now to help make the process easier two years from now.

  14. Skwire & Skwire (2011)
    The importance of a thesis in your writing is something the schools have been drilling into our heads since elementary school days. It is the one lesson you can always plan upon from any knowledgeable teacher, who aims to see your writing become more effective. Much like how the reading describes, the progression of how one learns to write a thesis builds every year. You start with the simple sentence, expanding and building to include your main discussion points and examples, until eventually your thesis disappears all together. While the reading says it is okay for the thesis to not even be printed in the final essay, I must say I strongly disagree. If a person is skimming your work, they should be able to read simply the introduction and be given a clear, concise idea of what your paper is about and how you plan to support your argument. The person should be able to highlight your thesis statement. If not for the reader’s sake, then for the author’s sake is the thesis most important. A thesis is an extremely effective way to make sure that the paper stays on track, and does not veer off into other irrelevant subject matters. I do agree, however, with the importance of every writing being persuasive. If the writing does not exist to make a point and convince the reader that the author has the most knowledgable view on a subject, then why are the thoughts even written down. It is simply a waste of time to the reader if the writing does not exist to take a persuasive stand on a subject matter.

    Lange (2012)
    This reading was a very excellent follow-up to the previous Skwire reading. While the previous article commented on the process of how to write an effectively persuasive paper, this article told us not only how to write a successful architectural critique, but why it is important. What struck me the most from this article was the call for “more critics — citizen critics — equipped with the desire and the vocabulary to remake the city.” I find it extremely upsetting that many citizens today are entirely apathetic as to what gets built around them. They do not realize what effects the built environment has on their own personal life. To be critical on architecture as a citizen is to know what you want to see in your city, to see an optimistic future, a better place. I also agree with Lange that Huxtable was extremely successful in her architectural critiques because of her structure and style. In wanting to create more citizen critics, you must be able to write for that masses so that they may relate and understand your point. However, this writing must also be entertaining enough that more than just architecture nerds will read it and must be short enough to hold the reader’s attention to get the entire point across. The better all citizens can critique and understand the built environment around them, the better our cities will be.

    Spector and Damron (2012)
    As a third year architecture student, my fifth year and my thesis project are rapidly approaching. The mere thought of devoting an entire year to one project is terrifying. A daunting task, as to where to begin, I have no clue. However, reading this article has relaxed me quite a bit as it provides clear, concise, and logical steps to writing an architectural thesis. I agree so much with this article that I am already motivated to begin keeping a journal as suggested to keep notes from lectures/readings that inspire me or provoke thoughts for a potential thesis. Clearly this reading is prevalent to my career as a student, but the author has also managed to make this particular reading even more targeted to his audience. He constantly strives to make comparisons between writing and designing to ease the potential thesis writers mind that indeed, this is a task they can achieve themselves. Similar to the other readings from this week, it gives clears steps as to how to most effectively write. However, I feel this reading takes it a step farther by making the writing very transparent and more relatable to the targeted audience of architecture students. After reading this, I do not feel intimidated by the thought of writing, but at ease, that this is something I can do.

  15. The persuasive principle
    After reading the passage, I found that to write a good thesis is hard. It is easy for us to interpret the whole idea in tons of sentences, but to narrow it down into a few is hard. Furthermore to extract the main idea from your narrowed sentences into a thesis sentence is even harder. And always remember to search for strong bullet points to support the thesis.
    I strongly believe that a thesis is not a statement of absolute fact, but also it’s a judgment or interpretation. Because that fact are a truth standing there and a thesis could not be 100 percent fact but a fact that you may or may not think it is real.
    Since the point of writing a thesis is to convey and persuade people. So I do not think that the more idea you give would confuse the reader as long as all points are showing the same ideas.
    I was not really sure about “The thesis is a barebone presentation of your idea.” What if we collaborate on a fact topic but just back it up with ideas. is that still count as bare bone?
    This passage is really important because for us as an architect. A thesis means an idea to tell, which for us this is like drinking water. It is irreplaceable and it strengthen our ability in our field.

    How to be an Architecture Critic
    I think it is really important to share your feeling of what your perspective to a building toward the people that you are sharing with. Imagine they have are not seeing the piece of work, but only you can tell them what it looks like. In this way, instead of telling them the details, you should be focusing more on the sense of movement that the piece is showing to you.
    I really agree with Lange saying that, every structure is built for a meaning. Think about the reason why it is there and how does that impact the world or to you. In other words, you will find the structure interesting part by observing the whole and parts.
    Even though the designer of Hearst Tower might not be well-thought, Huxtable might have be a little too straightforward in her crit of the building.
    I did not quite sure what “The first line of defense against this charge is making the connection for the reader between how architecture looks and how it makes one feel.”
    Architecture is a person that controls the space, and manage it well for people to interact with the space either spaces that is used or unused. The writer really wants to show that there is a close relationship among us and the space. We would be meaningless without using spaces as well as spaces would be meaningless without us.

    After reading this passage, I feel like I was given a really clear path of how to search and look for a thesis that fits me. Thesis is is based on words to express your feeling, in other words, you need to have a strong influential passage that hits deep in people’s mind in order to make them feel what you feel exactly.
    The reason to add as much supporting points to your thesis is necessary. The more similar viewpoints you added the more it allows to strengthen and to be more focused on your thesis.
    From my point of view, I thought that drafting may or may not help to me. I would rather write what ever come up into my mind and then further more develop from that. So I do not usually do drafting.
    About the process of revising, I was wondering if there are more specific way to break down the topic that the writer has in terms of where to start ?
    Writing a thesis is like building a house. Thesis has to be done in a well thought constructive way. In the field of architecture, we need both ideas and words as our weapon. A structure is a translation from our thesis into an actual material. A successful thesis means a successful structure you had built.

  16. The Persuasive Principal:

    Architecture is such a broad term, with categories spanning centuries worth of history and including architecture of the future. It only makes sense that when working on a specific project, one would attempt to “limit the subject”. In a way, writing a thesis is how I look at design. You have a central specific idea and you support this idea through elements of design or body paragraphs. In architecture, there are so many different ideas circulating, its important for architects to be able to lasso our ideas and put them in terms others can understand. This paper describes how to do that, but also, has a slight insight into design, whether that was intended or not.

    Having one major idea is probably one of the most important parts of a paper, but I also believe having an attention grabbing introduction paragraph(s) is equally important. Both of these ideas are important to the success of a thesis. On the other hand, I do not agree that the thesis is “not a fact, it is an argument” because in my opinion, if you are arguing it, you are convincing the reader that your thesis is indeed a fact.

    I’m not completely convinced that the extended thesis statement could be a drawback. I believe that it allows the reader a view into the paper that helps them follow the ideas more because they’ve had a small preview.

    How to be an Architecture Critic:

    When thinking about how to be an architecture critic, I did not realize how important the words we chose are. The words we chose are an integral part of the description of architecture as something more than money. The spreading of this specified vocabulary is more important than I originally thought. This reading reminded me how important the surroundings and environment surrounding a building are to the observer and how many people may miss this important part.

    Giving exact instructions on where to stand exactly, to me is a bit extreme and I’m not sure if it is completely necessary to describe the effect architecture has on a space. But I do think the way she describes architecture is beautiful. She humanizes architecture while understanding why it is beautiful or not. She puts it in an relatable and understandable way and I think that is important for everyone to be an architecture critic.

    This article uncovers the importance of being an active architecture critic in your career. As a critic, there is so much to learn from architecture, good and bad. I will strive to critique more architecture and strive to make myself a better architect through these critiques.

    Illustrate how to craft an architectural thesis:

    This reading is so instructive as to how to go about writing your thesis, it is actually extremely helpful. I honestly took notes and learned a lot. I am in love with the instruction to keep a research journal. Keeping everything in one place is wonderful, I agree with it completely, as I keep a journal regularly. Also, they state “establishing a suitable topic is the single most difficult task in thesis writing”. I completely agree with this! Choosing a topic is one of the most intimidating events coming up in my future.

    This article gives tactics as to how to narrow down a subject and I think that will help me in my future of picking a topic for the thesis. If this chapter is helping me with writing a thesis, I’m sure it is incredibly helpful to all architecture students.

    They talk about how a thesis should be directed to the thesis board and only the thesis board and I think that is a little narrow minded. I think that a thesis should be relatable to anyone with interest. This allows for your thesis to actually reach people and allows it to be more relatable.

  17. Skwire
    This passage helps a lot because it introduces the steps of writing. The most impressive part for me is how to find a thesis. Every time I try to finish a paper, it turns out that there are too many points to state and it is hard to discuss them in depth. Now I realize that a good article should never be too broad, it should be focusing on a specific, meaningful major point.
    I totally agree with the idea of “narrow down the subject and find a thesis that deal with restricted issues”, however, I think it is really hard to not talking much about secondary ideas. Everything has different sides, if one wants to make the statement more persuasive, it is essential to analyze and explain about the ambiguous parts.
    This article has gave me a general understanding about how to write a thesis (and will help even more when I’m writing a short essay), yet when talking something complex like architecture, I am still not sure about how to arrange the huge amount of information .

    Architecture is a kind of language. However, it seems that it’s only known among architects. We say what distinguishes an architecture from a building is the function. However, even though people do have their everyday experience in different “architecture”, enjoying the leisure at home or working in the office, they rarely pay attention to them.
    After reading this article, I found Huxtable a great critic: she has professional knowledge, aesthetic appreciation, critical and independent thought and the courage of speaking out. These are the virtues I should have while studying Architecture. What made me worship her most is that she made a conscious effort to guide people how to read architecture. It is a really good point because most of the people who are experiencing the architecture do not know how to critic it at all. In fact they would have more intuitive feelings about the building: is the room well lightened? Is the material appropriate? How is the view on the balcony? —– They may feel uncomfortable, but they are not relating it to the architectural knowledge. If everyone can have a little bit more of architectural knowledge than just common sense, if they know how to judge the ratio between buildings and open space, be aware about building’s height and bulk, style and sustainability, architects (and engineers) will get more direct feedbacks and meaningful suggestions. It will be a huge improvement on architecture.
    However, it is very hard for people to sense the “just right” thing that stated in the article —- to be honest as an ARCH student I still don’t get the red cube. There is nothing wrong with the “unprofessional taste”, it is all about getting people know about architecture language, being aware of their living environment and thinking more.

    Spector and Damron
    This article is like a more detailed version of the first article. It introduces more steps and methods of writing a thesis. It is really helpful for me because it guides me to start taking notes of the sources and record my thoughts. By creating a system of organization, it will be easier for me to summarize the information and analyze them.
    Before I’ve read this article, I was confused about how to screen the sources that are not that important. Now it is pretty clear: if you cannot come up with any thought, don’t waste time on this source. It also suggests giving up some of the good ideas. I understand that it helps keeping me focusing on the main point, but sometimes it is really hard to do so because interesting ideas also help highlighting the argument.
    It matters to architecture because it tells architects a learning method: be strict when documenting the information, always coming up with good thoughts and keep the work original.

  18. The Persuasive Principle

    My take away from this reading is that, when preparing a presentation, I want to spend more time developing a thought out thesis beforehand, instead of post-rationalizing. I strongly agree with the section A Thesis is not an Announcement of the Subject. I know I have been guilty of this in the past, but you will inevitably have a bland paper is your thesis is not arguable. There’s nothing that I strongly disagree with but out of everything, I don’t think that an extended specific thesis is always your best option. I tend to enjoy poignant and concise over anything that is dancing on the line of lengthy. I don’t fully understand how to judge whether or not you’ve covered enough of the topics you’re going to discuss. If you don’t have to at least reference everything you talk about in the thesis, then should it really be in your paper? Having read this I can see that even an architecture presentation board is a piece of persuasive material. Although it’s not just writing, it’s visuals and prepared speech that persuades your jury into seeing the problem the way you do and then, one step further, seeing your purposed architectural solution as the best solution.

    How to Be an Architecture Critic

    I want to be more inquisitive when it comes to the architecture I encounter in my day to day life. I love her revolutionary spirit, and her stance, “Rather than just talking about money, we should also be talking about height and bulk, style and sustainability, openness of architecture and of process.” Maybe she’s right about the cube fitting the site, but she didn’t provide enough evidence for her point to come across as strongly as it could have, and when she’s talking about experiences what you previously saw in rendering I don’t understand her point. In terms of how this fits in to the field of architecture, as humans we require communication to function, and architecture is beautiful on its own, but without the ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings on architecture, then what meaning in society does it really have? What chance do we have of growing and learning from it?


    This is helpful to keep in mind when I go forward into the upper years of studio. I want to organize my ideas now so that life is a little easier by fifth year. It may seem trivial but I very much agree with his advice to think about the location you choose to do your work in. Space and mood and environment have a strong impact on outcome of product. As architects we should know that better than anyone. I see his point in advising students to take more notes then we think we need, but I feel like that would water down the importance of other thoughts I wrote down. That would only work if you had a system to help you keep track of what was more important to you when you recorded it. I understand his intention behind advising us to be process oriented instead of product driven but I don’t understand how his tips on how to get to the mind set would be executed. This chapter gives concrete advice for upcoming architects to effective communicate their ideas.

  19. The Persuasive Principle

    Although this text focused on the benefits of formulating a strong thesis and proper thought organization through written means, I believe these methods would also be very helpful when giving presentations. When presenting, it is very easy to begin talking about the specifics of one’s building rather than the overarching concept of one’s design. When introducing one’s design concept, or thesis, it is important to have a hook at the beginning to get the audience intrigued. Next, the thesis should be presented so the audience has a proper frame of reference when considering how design decisions were made. It is also important to apply a hierarchy to what is mentioned and what is left out. Just like body paragraphs, a presentation must be organized into supporting main ideas; a presentation should not be a stream of consciousness. Additionally, presentations need to have a strong conclusion rather than an awkward and abrupt end: “…So that’s it. Thanks… Any questions?”
    I love that the author acknowledged that there generally are no hard and fast rules for writing, such as when and how to present a thesis statement. I appreciate this because I find that once some people (occasionally including myself) discover a ‘rule,’ they adhere to it completely. I truly believe that these exceptions to the rule make writing fresh and interesting to read.
    I think the information presented in this article will be helpful, not only whenever I write my own thesis, but whenever I want to strongly communicate my ideas to my piers, professors, or future clients.

    How to Be an Architecture Critic

    Becoming a knowledgeable architecture critic requires more effort than merely viewing the built world while keeping one’s unedited thoughts in her mind. A vital step I think most students miss in critiquing architecture is writing about architecture. Writing about architecture seems like a necessary step because it forces one to articulate their critiques in a simplified and reasoned manner. Lange states “We know what we already like but not how to describe it, or how to change it, or how to change our minds.” I understand that Lange is including people who are not in the field of architecture in this statement, but I think this can apply to architecture students as well. We may judge architecture by our intuition, but we rarely sit down and censor our rapid thoughts. Using Huxtable’s “Sometimes We Do It Right” article as an example, Lange outlines four main topics one should discuss when writing a critique: description, history, drama, and the author’s point/thesis. I think these topics cover the breadth of architecture well and are good starting points for when one wants to write about architecture.
    Lange also highlights how lofty most architectural critiques are. She discusses how the aesthetics are frequently passed over to discuss more theoretical issues; however, this step should be the one of the most vital parts of architectural critique. Most people, the people who walk by, work in, live across, etc. these buildings are never aware of any theoretical significance; they know what the building’s presence looks and feels like to them. If these people make up the vast majority of those who are interacting with architecture, and if architecture should aim to be a service-oriented field, shouldn’t their voices be heard the loudest?


    This article was very practical and offered a great amount of useful advice on how to write an architectural thesis. The most useful piece of advice was to keep a journal to organize thoughts, ideas, sources, and notes. This method would allow one to compile all relevant information in one location and increase productivity by having access to many ideas and not having to return to sources to create citations. I think this practice should be carried on throughout one’s career, even after she has completed her thesis. When the time comes for a professional to write an article, she can reference this journal and sort through years of ideas rather than try to generate brand new ideas at a moment’s notice. Ideas from these journals could generate new design projects.
    I also found the recommendations concerning revision to be particularly helpful. Comparing writing revisions with design revisions was an effective illustration. When revising a building design, it is best to reduce the building to what is necessary and what conveys one’s idea the most effectively. This same rule should be applied to formulating a thoughtful paper; if it is not essential or helpful to your idea, get rid of it. An unintentionally convoluted design, paper, etc. will likely result in disinterest and ridicule.

  20. How to be an architect Critic
    At some point, we are able to make or create what other ought to see and experience in a way that allows us to express what is truly shown. This is true in the words of Alexandra Lange’s How to be an Architecture Critic. She explain and expresses that architecture has not only become a redundancy towards the people that make use of it every day but have walked across them. This article conveys and points out to the readers whether architecture is really based on the environment or its environs. I am in accordance with the writer, architecture has made its way to an age of speed and marketing. In my own opinion, architecture has slowly evolve throughout the times but has yet reach its ideals. We as architects try to fit everything that we can into our design but cannot due to the limited expression the people portray towards our design and creation. By increasing the speed of construction many of the expressions of the building are lost. With the loss of expression, the ideals of the designer fail to reach the audience which is the people using it or walking pass by it. I do believe that architecture has not yet reach a stage that Lange has stated. Many indistinctively fail to grasp the importance of architecture in our culture and world. Many architecture critics like Lange help to comprehend what was loss in the buildings and show its publics what they are seeing.
    The persuasive principle
    How one express themselves in their writing is critical in this fast paced electronic media world. By referring and deferring to the public is what a thesis should be. Architecture in part is about reflecting a proposal towards and to the public. By writing a thesis in the correct manner, the people are allow to view and understand what the architect or the writer is trying to convey with his words. In some cases, by writing a thesis that incorporates the meaning of words but also argues the idea of the writer is what it takes to win an argument. For example, Skwire & Skwire’s The Persuasive Principal conveys that writing a thesis with a detailed and more refined topic helps the ideas come across to others. This being true in all aspect is what I have come to agree with. By allowing a detail and precise ideal to be written one can assume that writer knows what is best in her topic and has a genuine argument why is speaking. Rather than explain a narrow ideal, it is easier to talk about a single statement that allows the point to come across others. However, by narrowing down and focusing in one statement some people tend to lose focus. The words become hard to follow due to the level of explanations given. As stated earlier architecture is in par with writing and by allowing a good statement to come across people is enough to express ones ideas. Many authors like Skwire & Skwire help in manifesting good writing thesis help in project the point across but without losing one’s audience.
    Having a well prepared thesis makes all the work put on it worth it. It does not only become a final product but also allows the writer to conclude a point he or she was trying to express. Architects propose ideas all the time and by having a well written proposal, the client can understand the image the architect is trying to portray. Using different methods of writing and communication can lead to better understanding. For instance, Spector and Damron’s “Theses” share a similar view in having an excellent theses since the beginning. By allowing a good start one can realize and create a well written theses that is able to grasp the thoughts of the writer, in this case, the architect. Although Spector and Damron illustrate a way to write a good theses, it doesn’t necessary means it would be the best. One can recognize that by using another person’s ideal writing methods can create other problems. Different people use different methods and as such their methods can be consider excellent as well. Ideally, the perfect thesis method is the one that is able to allow the writer to show their point across utilizing sources. As any other guide, “Theses” is straightforward and allows other to understand the means of writing a thesis. Is not the only one but is clearly a good example to others.

  21. The Persuasive Principle…

    Throughout the course of my educational career in regards to the subject of writing, I—in a manner that is probably very similar to that of my peers—have been inundated by information that stresses the importance of having a well thought out and direct thesis statement. The passage by Skwire and Skwire once again emphasizes this important notion. That being said, one tends to become less and less enthused about a particular subject matter the longer he or she is exposed to repetitive information. I must admit, however, that I was a little less than enthused to read this passage after I saw its title and opening few lines. With that in mind, I walked away from this reading with a newfound appreciation for the subject matter.

    As a third-year student, I have only had the chance to take two “English” classes while at Penn State (English 30 and CAS 100A). While the former could be described as a more “traditional” English course, the latter more heavily emphasized speaking ability over writing ability. As such, one could describe my writing ability as “rusty.” In a field where the communication and expression of your ideas is so critical to finding success, being “rusty” at anything simply will not do. In architecture, you and your idea have to be better than the proposers to your left and right if you want to be successful, see your work carried out, and make money. While the passage was not directly speaking of how persuasive principles relate to architecture, it is widely understood that good writing skills are a near universal quality that can transcend multiple fields, architecture included.

    I felt that Skwire and Skwire did an excellent job of communicating the central idea that good persuasion is the key to writing and developing an effective argument. I certainly agree with them on that point. Whether you are writing a narrative prompt, a tutorial, or trying to express your reasoning for thinking that blue is a better color than green (which it is), you need to use persuasive elements in your writing. Where I heavily disagree with them is the implied notion that having a good thesis and introduction will lead a writer to success. There is more to writing than just an introduction and a fancy opening statement! From my experiences in evaluating the work of peers, many people—myself included—spend a great deal of time developing a phenomenal opening, and that’s it. The rest of the writing simply falls flat. I have never understood why the same emphasis that is applied to the construction of a thesis statement is not typically applied to the entirety of a piece of writing. It is important to put thought into all aspects of your writing, otherwise that man to your right or the woman to your left might just see their design chosen instead.

    How to be an Architecture Critic…

    All of us are critics. We critique the driving skills of the cars that drive around us on the interstate, the quality of the meat we ordered last Friday night at the steakhouse, the aesthetic qualities of the sidewalk as we walk down the street, and so on and so on. That being said, one does not necessarily take seriously his or her daily thoughts and drivels on life. Instead, we box up those thoughts only to never see them again. But why don’t we act on them? Surely providing feedback to the driver of the green sedan that just cut in front of us would be helpful. I’m assuming that the chef at that restaurant might want to know that he is mistaking medium and medium well. And the mayor of the city you’re visiting should know if there are cracks in his sidewalks, right? In a perfect utopia, these instances of mediocrity might stand out like a sore thumb. But in our more realistic world, we tend to take whatever life throws at us and just try to survive. We don’t think about carefully analyzing the processes behind each aspect of life; we only care about the now and the five minutes from now. In fact, we might not realize that the green sedan was on its way to the hospital to see a beloved family member before his death, that the chef in the kitchen has bad eyesight and misread the handwriting of the waitress, or that the mayor took money from the sidewalk budget to hire more police officers to better patrol and curb crime within the city. This same logic can be used to describe why the general public has such a lackadaisical approach to the design of the world around them. In fact, we will stand in line at an electronics store for days awaiting the release of a new handheld device that allows us to customize it “any way we want,” but will we do the same at a city council meeting that might discuss crucial modifications to the city in which we live? The answer is absolutely not.

    Our society is unbelievably fast paced. People are in such a hurry that they only see the destination, not the journey. To come across someone like Ada Louise Huxtable in life is certainly a rarity. One that devotes her life to the discussion and critiquing of the unnatural environments that mankind has and continues to build is simply striking. If an angry restaurant-goer can write a 1,000-word Yelp review about the mediocrity of the steak she ate on her birthday, then Ada Louis Huxtable could have talked for years critiquing the replacement for Penn Station in New York. The art of her writing entailed the decisive manner in which she crafted each thought to be as simple as possible. That is certainly one thing that I agree with about that type of writing. Just because you can write forever about a particular issue, doesn’t mean that you should. Because our society is so fast-paced, people have already wanted ten days prior the information that will be released tomorrow. And when approaching an idea as gargantuan as criticizing the $500 million building that was just opened last week, one needs to go about it in a clear and concise manner. With architecture, you must get your ideas across and you must get them across fast if you want them to have a chance at being heard. That feature of clarity is probably the most important aspect that I was able to pick up as I read through the article. And while I disagree with the notion that everyone should follow Huxtable’s style of criticism, I acknowledge that she represents the exquisite dimensions of a style of writing from the mid-twentieth century that have long been misplaced—though not entirely lost—within our present day society.


    From start to finish, a written idea should be strongly professed, meticulously documented, and strongly and accurately supported. Without following through on these previous features, a writer will not be successful, no matter the direction he or she is going. This notion is particularly crucial to architectural writing if you want to be able to convey your thoughts. In such a visual profession, one would not think that writing is so important. In fact, the ability with which to write in a clear and concise manner may be even more critical of an asset to possess. I appreciate Spector and Damron’s approach to this passage, in that they acknowledge the skill’s importance to the field of architecture. While Photoshop and Revit may be wonderful software programs in which to possess skills, if your firm can’t afford to use them, then you need to figure out another way to get across the ideas that are buzzing around within your head. When used correctly, writing can fill that void. While Spector and Damron brought up several valid points within the passage, I most heavily agree with their recommendation to write a paragraph’s (or more) worth of information about what you have just read when finishing an article or book. That is a fantastic way to determine if a source is valid enough to include in your thesis! I do, however, disagree with the notion that a source is worthless to your thesis if you cannot perform this task. The gaining of information, no matter how or how not relevant it may seem to your task is just one of the many benefits of good research. You can use the information that you learned to better answer a question you might have next week or in the weeks after.

  22. Skwire
    To put the reading in terms of architecture is not far fetched. In school, you are given a prompt which turns out to be the subject matter of the design and its already narrowed down to what the client wants. The overall concept would be the thesis and all of the details of the building would support that thesis. When I start to think that way, design decision become a little easier and I will tools to defend my project at the final critique.
    The author made a good point when she said that the thesis doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in one sentence but rather hinted at among several sentences. That makes sense in architecture because the concept, while not frankly stated, should still be obvious.

    This reading gave me a starting point so that I can begin to make semi-informed opinions about the buildings and spaces I experience. Starting with simple observation, I can start to pick apart the spaces, and begin to talk about which aspects work and don’t work. Also, reviewing architectural history will give me more vocabulary to work with when talking about what I see. From this, I will be able to learn from the buildings around me and take that into consideration in my designs.
    This writing matters because we should be criticizing a building because “they deserve better”. Keeping the focus on how the building works for the people who experience it is much more useful to designers to design responsible architecture.
    To start to go from observation to opinion-forming is still a bit uncertain for me. I suppose it will take practice, constant looking and knowledge.

    Spector and Damron
    The second to last section of the article used tips from “101 Things I Learned In Architecture School” which resonated with me because it drove home the parallel between writing a paper and designing a building. If we think about designing a paper instead of writing it, it will hopefully be more enjoyable to write. That said, the tips were also a nice review of things I should be thinking about when working on my studio projects.

    The three readings were pretty straight forward and easy to understand. I didn’t disagree with much as these were pretty informative and agreeable. Nothing stood out to me as that wasn’t pretty valid. To disagree, I would’ve been taking statements out of context and not making constructive points.
    The biggest theme from these readings is that writing is designing. As designers, we should then care about what we say and how we say it. To the outsider, if we don’t care about our writing, we don’t care about our designs.

  23. Skwire – Chapter 1: The persuasive principle
    1. This reading has helped me in various ways including a more clear understanding or how to write a thesis and its components and also a different point of view about this issue.
    2. I agree with the fact that it is mentioned that writing a paper with a thesis gives that paper a sense of purpose and eliminates a lot of exterior problems that writing without a thesis might bring.
    3. I disagree with the fact that the reading mentions that a “thesis is only a vibration in the brain until it is turned into words”. I think that a thesis is much more than only a vibration in your brain, I think it is the most important part of writing in order to make in coherent and organized.
    4. What I didn’t understand quite as well in the reading is that the reading mentions that a thesis has to be restricted but this has to be until certain point because if you have a thesis that is very restricted, then you will not have a lot of things to say in your paper.
    5. This writer’s work matters a lot to the field of architecture because in every day life in every profession, in this case architecture, people have to be clear about what is a thesis and what does in contain in order to defend opinions with concrete evidence that helps persuade other people to have the same point of view.

    Lange – How to be an architecture critic
    1. This reading has been really helpful because in talks about how to critique architecture in various ways by being concrete and by showing knowledge and good thoughts about a specific work.
    2. I agree with the fact that one city differentiates with another by the ratio of building to open space that exist when comparing two or more specific cities. As it is mentioned in the reading: “space is meaningless without scale, containment, boundaries and direction”.
    3. One aspect from the reading that I strongly disagree is the fact that people don’t talk in a good and in a professional way about buildings or architecture in general. We have to train those people so that they can talk and express their feelings and thoughts about architecture in a professional and coherent way.
    4. What I didn’t understand about the reading is when it talks about the criticism that people give to architecture regarding city planning and similar things.
    5. It is very important for the field of architecture that people are capable of making architecture critiques about any specific aspect regarding the field. This reading, in some way, “teaches” us how to be an architecture critic in a good and compelling way.

    Spector – Theses
    1. Overall this reading has been really helpful because it talks about the design implications of architecture with the new technology of these days and also it presents architectural solutions to the problems that exist.
    2. From this reading, I agree with the fact that an architectural thesis has to include an original investigation into the design issue and also various interpretations of facts that are already known.
    3. I strongly disagree with the fact that it is mentioned that “themes must have a certain alikeness or symmetry to them.” I think this is a generalization and does not apply in all aspects. Also that all of the work has to be planned at first and not just throw ideas into the writing without any planning.
    4. I don’t understand how this reading explains the revising part of the process.
    5. This matters a lot in the field of architecture because there has to be a clear organization of thoughts and ideas at first in order to be able to write a good thesis and a good paper about a specific topic regarding the field.

  24. The Persuasive Principle
    The concept of a project is the driving force behind anything a designer does in front of the pen and paper. This concept is a thesis. Having a strong thesis/concept in any design will ultimately decide the quality of your final product. It should be concise, meaningful, and bold.
    I agree that the thesis should be quick to engage the viewer and strong in the way that it is easy to support. I also agree that a specific thesis is stronger than one that is not. While an idea that is flexible to changes in design may prove to be useful in the long run, it will be worth less.
    However, Skwire and Skwire believe that the thesis should be a cut-down, skeletonized version of your greater idea. While a thesis should be concise, having a minimal thesis may detract from the valuable “engaging factor” required at the beginning of a project presentation or essay. There is no harm in starting strong.
    I do not understand the statement that a thesis should be restricted and only handle “bite-sized issues”. Skwire and Skwire argue that having a thesis that discusses too large or complex of an issue is dangerous because it would take a lifetime to discuss. While I agree that having a longwinded essay will almost always prove detrimental to the argument, I thoroughly believe that one can discuss almost anything, provided the write is concise enough.
    Skwire and Skwire’s ideas on thesis transfers over to architecture in the way that the concept of a design is the analogue of a thesis in a writing piece. Learning to write a strong thesis and mastering the ability to create bold, straightforward statements will allow an architect to craft a refined concept and build upon it.

    How to be an Architecture Critic
    Lange describes how Huxtable operates off of the assumption that many of her readers may not know very much about architecture. She describes the work without diving too deeply into the semantics and winding speeches about concept that plague the field of architecture. She also understands that the majority of people may simply pass by all the effort and stress put into a building or dismiss it as a background to a much more engaging work of art. If I were to design a building meant to showcase a concept, I cannot simply expect the average person to immediately understand and appreciate it. While I do not condone heavy handedness, a building has to be quick to pique the interest of the masses.
    I agree with the statement that space can be so easily ruined by one out of place detail. The Villa Savoye would be significantly worse if it was built next to a parking lot or a Costco. This is also an argument for why a thorough, detailed site analysis is incredibly important to a project.
    I do not agree with the stance on sculpture, more specifically the Red Cube. Perhaps my inclinations towards the more technical side of art has given me somewhat of a hatred for sculpture. What is the point of a multimillion dollar piece of art if it serves no apparent use?
    Continuing off of my disagreement about sculptures, the idea that one piece of plop art can be greater or lesser than another is confusing. Can one patch of dirt be worth more than another? Perhaps I am being to critical and biased of the art world, but I digress, can I stay warm in the bitter winter inside of some big red cube?
    Sun Tzu says “Know your enemy”. While it is fairly paranoid to think of a critic as an enemy, for all intents and purposes, it is accurate. Lange describes how Huxtable thinks and acts. If I knew exactly what the critic (or anybody looking at my work) would scrutinize, I would work on that part of the design more.

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