Group Work in Studio?

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    Matt Landis

    This discussion (series of questions) is for students currently in school….or for those who can still think like a student.

    In a studio course, do you prefer working in groups or individually? When there is a tremendous amount of research and analysis that needs to be completed for a site, do you prefer to do the analysis in groups…and then break off to do the design work individually? Acknowledging that an office environment is very much group-based design…would you prefer to get practice designing in groups while in school, or just concentrate on sharpening your personal design skills?


    I’d prefer to sharpen individual design skills and efficiency, but I’m drawn to the challenge of working in groups to hone my communication and facilitation abilities. I had alot of fun on a charette in NC last year where the groups were composed of mixed disciplines such as MBA’s. It made it even more challenging to convey the reasoning behind the “leaps of faith or intuition” I think many designers often make instinctively and perhaps unknowingly.

    More of the latter would be GREAT in school for everyone.


    Les Ballard

    I hope that this contribution is felt to be of some merit if only as food for thought. As we can, we will work more from home, or cottage offices in eco towns we may help design ourselves. They may be a long commute from the office for a weekly or monthly brainstorm.

    The avatar populated internet chat room is one way to hold a conference, whenever you want to meet with others in the team but, so often, the clever secretary who arranges an overnighter meeting venue to synergise with the brief, the effort of getting there, as well as the nervousness of being and surviving there, will combine with personal contact to really get the juices flowing. (In the office, anything from a skull, to an antique desk, to a vase of flowers may help the process but a dingy, fly specked tomb is less likely to help.)

    Wander lonely as a cloud, for ideas and conduct research, if you will but it is the host of golden daffodills that provides the best display. They do, however, need rest, food, drink and to play in the breeze, to last well year after year. We, at least, also need to laugh and cry a little.

    Luv n Lite

    Les Ballard

    Andrew Spiering

    My knee jerk reaction – Individually. My practical side- Group.

    This question came up in a construction documents studio of mine. Many of the students wanted to work individually so that they could add it to their portfolio and be credited for all of the work. Also, most of the students work full-time and commute to school, so collaborating and meeting up to go over design issues face-to-face is a bit tough. My group ended up breaking out individually after brainstorming design concepts and flushing out a schematic design. From their, each team member went through DD and CD’s individually.

    While the real world is almost always a collaborative team effort, it is also good to develop your own style and craft. Both are needed.

    Ron Gustinella

    In my studio last semester, our two big projects both had group based research/analysis phases at the beginning. For the first project, we continued on individually. The second project was going to be the same way, however we all decided that it would be good experience to complete the design work as a group.

    The second project was definitely a ton of work – it takes SO much more time and effort to decide on a design when you have 3 people providing input. But I am glad we did it, since that’s how it will be in the real world. It was also great as a learning experience because we all had different skills/areas of expertise to contribute and learn from.

    I agree with you Andrew – my initial reaction is that I’d rather do the design work individually, however I know the that group design work is really important as well.

    Pok Kobkongsanti

    Depends on how much amount of work for the program.
    At GSD, some studios require a team work, because there is soooo much information.
    Design-wise, I prefer individual work, because each student will have freedom to explore what he/she is interested.
    Both are good anyway though….


    I prefer design part individually but analyses in the group.
    Even though i like to work individually i always ask advise and opinion
    from the other people, therefor i thinks it is needed to have group of people always around you. it is real good to discuss your thoughts with-someone, who can give you completely new perspective to look at. some questions or things that you did not pay attention so much can come up as a big problem for some people.
    So both-wise communication is really important and needed!

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