The Rise and Fall of Housing Studio

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I didn’t post anything for an entire semester. The truth is I wasn’t proud of what I produced with my partner. And I barely had the time to update given that I was taking more units than usual and also having to manage another brain. Having a partner changed everything. The only thing I really learned is that I am a terrible judge of character.

Core III is Housing studio. The studio goes into prom season by the middle of Core II spring semester. Everybody is seeking partnership for the fall. I locked my partner down early – by January, actually. I even had to petition to have her as my partner because it meant that she would take studios out of sequence. This is because she had to go on medical leave and missed Core II entirely. That clearly didn’t stop us. I was determined to work with her. We were the first in Housing partnership history to be granted this petition. The school generally doesn’t allow studios to be taken out sequence. Her case was special. What happened that made her have to go on medical leave was completely out of her control. I obviously understood how delicate the situation was but I also had a lot of faith in her. I still believe that she has the sharpest brain in studio. I thought she was brilliant. Sharp mind – the intelligence I could only compare with professors. I thought she was my intellectual peer. I admired her ability to expand on things that were completely new to her – things totally foreign to her. She was a fast learner. I was doing things I already knew how to do but she was diving into the unknown and learning faster than everyone else. She picked up so fast. I understood where she was as a prodigy and I kind of wanted to team up with her because I knew how to “lead” her in a sense. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that highly of my own set of skills. I actually felt that I was completely beneath her. I wanted to to pair up because of our dynamic together. I wanted to gain from her as much as she wanted to gain from me. Our skills were complementary to each other’s. It was a golden collaboration. Boy, what a mistake this was. I could not have ever imagined or prepared for what was to come.

At the very beginning, as it became clear that I produced much of the stuff we presented, I insisted that we always say “we” not “I” when talking about our work. I said that regardless of who had the hand or who spent the all nighter, it’s “WE NOT ME.” This was never a problem because we enjoyed working together. I really never ever noticed when I did everything (production-wise). I just enjoyed the brainstorm. After all, I was the one who offered these “we not me” reminders. It only started to become a problem after midterms.

My partner started to fall apart right after mid-review. I guess she wasn’t able to deal with the stress and she began to take it out on me without realizing it. I respond the way I usually do when things just need to get done: I ignore distractions. I ignored all distractions and just did my work.

You see, my partner became extremely competitive with me in front of our critic. She admitted to me that she was jealous of me. I really didn’t need to hear that but she said it. It somehow grew to become this nasty competition I wasn’t aware I was participating in. She let go of all the good “rules” we had for teamwork – including “always be prepared to toss it all and start from scratch.” In other words, don’t get married to an idea. That, she did. She somehow couldn’t let go of one scheme. No matter what I did or what our critic did, she always arrived at the scheme we had at midterm. It blew up right before 3/4 review and right in front of our critic. We had a bad couple of desk crits because our critic had asked us to rethink our massing. On the 4th day, I decided to experiment with an idea and play around with something new. I had spent all night – I was desperate to get out of the hole we were in. I was trying everything. The next morning she was offended when she saw the “test” scheme. She insisted that I was “playing around” and that I needed to sleep.

The most insulting thing you can say to someone pushing 36 hours is “I think you need to sleep” especially if it’s like a coherence level diagnosis. It’s like hearing boos miles into the marathon when all you need is a Gatorade.

When our critic arrived at studio, he sensed the tension between me and my partner . He told us not to talk to each other for the next 4 hours and create our own massing models. It was to be a charrette. He finally pinned us against each other. That afternoon I saw my partner turn into a manic, desperate, weakling out to bring me down. That was the day she stopped having my back. I had already created iterations of my ideas for massing so I was taking it easy. I was in and out of studio to attend to other matters concerning my internship applications. When it was time for our desk crit, our critic suspected that I wasn’t in the room the entire time and my partner quickly took the opportunity to get me in trouble. The tables turned quickly as I presented my model and she presented hers. Our critic lauded my new massing, or at least the new approach I was taking. It was the first time I had his undivided attention. He said it was the best crit we’d had thus far but not before he practically scolded my partner for, indeed, doing exactly the same thing she had been doing since midterm. She then proceeded to walk out without acknowledging what happened. And I wasn’t to see her for 4 whole days.

Our critic talked to me after this event – after my partner walked out. He said to go easy on her. I confessed that I had always gone easy on her and that she was the one going hard on me. Yes, this was the beginning of her crying crying crying and my working working working.

During the 4 days she took off doing god knows what (to this day I have no idea), I took complete control of the project. 3/4 review was in a week and I went on FIGHT mode to produce all the deliverables without her. 2 days before 3/ review she showed up at studio begging for my attention. I was busy trying to submit a cut file. She sat around waiting to catch my glance so that she could cry. She asked to talk to me so I took her downstairs where I knew no one could see/hear us. At this point, I was embarrassed of her. Completely. I didn’t want to be associated with her. I was hoping that she was going to say she’s leaving. I remember thinking it would be amazing if she just left. And if I could just go back to work. Instead, I had to listen to her talk about feeling inadequate, crying a lot and a bunch of other nonsense. I couldn’t take it seriously. I had to finish my cut file.

From then on my partner would have to confirm all design decisions with our critic. If we disagreed, she would say “But I’m following instructions” and then insist that I was wrong, going to great lengths to prove so — even calling our critic on the phone mid argument once or twice.

We bought 600 dollars worth of acrylic to mill. She couldn’t mill so I had to assign her tasks. I spent one weekend at the wood shop milling by myself, no sleep, and then overslept the following Monday. The next time I saw our critic, he scolded me saying that my partner called him complaining why I wasn’t around.

Worse, she couldn’t proceed with the current design — how it was developed when she was out for 4 days — since it wasn’t “hers.” She never knew what to do next which, I learned later on, was why she complained when I wasn’t there. I had to instruct her on what to do constantly. But toward the end of the night, when I’d usually just be getting into the groove as I work the night shift, she would complain that she didn’t understand what she was doing. She would ask for help and before I could explain she would complain that it didn’t make sense. No, she didn’t propose anything new; she just whined. Yet somehow, the model – the new scheme that I developed during her paid vacation somehow became her profile picture on Facebook. I had taken a quick, amateur photo and manipulated it on PS Express. It was a pretty shoddy photo and I wasn’t proud of it. It was her profile picture. For fuck’s sake. Along with others in an album titled “Fun Things At GSAPP.” I told her she should probably include her partner. I don’t even know why I tried. I then saw myself tagged “Thanks for taking the photos, Joem!” May I remind you how much she deplored this scheme a minute ago. I just don’t understand the frame of mind you’d have to be in to do something so pathetic.

Come final review, I was dead. I had been up for days. She had just come in after a night’s rest. I asked her to prepare my outlines so I could go home and shower. She did not. She could not. The only thing she did for final presentation was a diagram I instructed her to make. She nearly quit the night before, saying she didn’t like what I was suggesting. But after some whining, she went ahead and did it. And may I say, it is the ugliest thing I’ve ever had on a slide with my name on it. Lastly, I reminded her about “we not me” during our final presentation. What happened during final review was the icing on the cake.

At final review, my partner took complete ownership of the project in her own way. “I designed this section”.. “In the section that I designed…. I did this…”… “You can see in this section I drew…” She went on. Slam dunk after slam dunk. I stayed quiet for the rest of it. I figured I’d let her have her party.

I let it all out after that. Right when we finished presenting. I told her everything. And I was yelling. I told her I was just waiting for it to be over. “I was putting up with you until today just to get you to DO something.” I told her we would not talk for a very long time.  I told her that she didn’t design that section and she knew it. “Could you have at least given me time to speak?” I yelled.  She didn’t design anything. In fact, she opposed all of those designs that I had to fight for. She claimed she didn’t remember any of this. Even the desk crit when she walked out, she claimed she didn’t remember. She said “What happened that day, by the way? I was so out of it – what did [our critic] say?” I couldn’t believe it.

About a week later, I asked her to take the images down from Facebook. This is when I got nasty. I admit that I was mean from this point onwards. But I really couldn’t help it. She never took down the album and I got pissed. I don’t know why. I hated those pictures. I didn’t like that because they’re in an album, it seemed that we were proud of them. And I was not. And I made them!  I just thought she was a nasty human being and completely out of her mind and it truly felt like she had stolen something from me parading around with it as if it were her own. I know that sounds petty but that’s really what it felt like. That’s how little she had to do with the entire studio project. It was disgusting.

I got so irritated that I deleted her input from my hard drive. Anything that she produced. Needless to say, it wasn’t much.  I told her that I did this. And I told her she should do the same. Her lack of awareness of ANYTHING just really worked my nerve so I just got nasty. I mean, this girl, like, lives in a telletubbie fantasy.

She told on me to the assistant dean and our critic. She told on me for telling her not to use “my” work. And that I had taken ownership etc. I then got a series of Facebook messages from her boyfriend. Oh, my god what a douche that guy is. He basically threatened to get me expelled. It went on for almost two weeks. I kept telling him to go ahead with whatever he wants to do. I honestly  stood (and still stand) by my reasons. I know what happened.

It was funny because the second I reminded them that she never paid me back for any materials, including 600 dollars of acrylic, they shut up.


I know this is a common story. It’s tale retold many times. We weren’t the only partners that divorced. And I’m not trying to make a bigger deal out of our situation by blogging about; I really just needed to rant. This is what happened between me and my partner. I omitted some details to protect my partner (from herself). Yes she did much worse things. But this is the truth about my housing semester, my 3rd semester at GSAPP. The rise and the fall of my housing semester. And ultimately, how terrible a judge of character I am.




—– brb

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