My Bachelor of Architecture Degree.
As a child, I was surrounded by a creative extended family who were always sewing, building, painting and drawing. Since my Father was in the construction industry, I grew up believing that anyone who had the desire could make whatever they dreamed of. Thanks to exposure to Art and Drafting in Middle School, I decided at a young age that I was going to be involved in the creative side of making buildings. This, I was informed, would require me to go to College to earn a degree.
The small town I grew up in had a Community College where I was able to take General Education courses. After that, Kansas State University was my choice to pursue a Bachelor of Architecture. There I was, a girl from a town with a population of 5,000, at a major university with over 20,000 students. Culture Shock!!! I didn’t know anyone in the College of Architecture and my Freshman Class had over 500 students. In addition to Studio classes, there were large lecture classes for the entire freshman class where our Professors didn’t even know our names. I recall one Professor stopping mid lecture one morning to ask one of us to please wake a fellow student snoring so loudly he was disrupting class.
The first two years in the College of Architecture exposed us to Architecture, Interior Architecture and Landscape Architecture so that when third year arrived we could apply to one of the three programs. A limited number of spots were available, so hard work, good grades and a nice portfolio were necessary. The Dean of students called us all to a meeting prior to the application process where he informed us that Architecture is not glamorous, we would not be rich like they show in the movies and that we would work long hours. A Brady Bunch lifestyle was not likely. Most of us were not deterred and were all on pins and needles waiting to hear if we had been accepted to the College of our choice. I remember being elated when I received my acceptance letter. Thus, began the more intense classes and late nights that pushed us all to our limits.
In addition to the rigorous class schedule, I had the good fortune of being responsible for paying my own way through college. A part-time job at a local restaurant was required to supplement the scholarships and grants K-State provided. The Dean highly recommended not working while studying in the College of Architecture, but other options were not available. There is nothing quite like going back to Studio (smelling like the daily special) to complete a project due by 10 pm. Surely my Studio classmates and Professors loved that!
Our Studio environment was not what could be called glamorous. In fact, we were surrounded by bare wood floors, white washed stone and concrete walls, exposed metal joists and wood deck roof structure. No distractions to be had in that environment. Unless you count pinning bugs to display boards to see who caught the largest one; hanging food from the rafters to keep mice out of it; putting tape, sticky side out, on our Willy mugs to keep ants out or dodging the occasional bat, distracting. The good news was we could pin up our projects anywhere we wanted. We also learned to dress in layers we could shed in the winter, as the radiators blasted so much heat that wearing shorts was the only way to make it tolerable.
The Bachelor of Architecture Program at K-State required five years to complete. The work load between keeping on top of studies and a part-time job during the school year was not reduced in the Summer when working both a full-time and part-time job.
Everything changed dramatically the summer before my fifth year when I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Daycare was usually available during the day when attending Class and work, however Studio required a little more creativity. The majority of the Professors and all of my Classmates were amazing and allowed a playpen to be set up in Studio. My son was cuddled by one Professor during class on many occasions. He napped during late nights and chewed on chip board pieces while we made models. By May the following year, he was just mobile enough that the playpen was not a happy place for him any longer. Thankfully it was Graduation time!
The College of Architecture at Kansas State was not an easy right of passage. The all-nighters, stinging critiques by Professors during presentations, missed Holidays with family required by Project Deadlines and heavy work load were challenging to say the least. All of this prepared me, and my Classmates, for the Professional Practice of Architecture.
Written by Lead Architect and Partner, Cheri A. Hulse.