On most days in the M.Arch studio my greatest interpersonal challenge was deciding whose offer of a cup of coffee to turn down. With a student coffee maker ratio of nearly 1:1, the unsolicited pressure to caffeinate was at times overwhelming, as was the relentless kindness and generosity of my peers. Entering the program I had concerns about time wasted on competitive bickering and difficult to manage group projects, the usual challenges of good students trying to position themselves for success. However, within the first week of studio it became clear that I was fortunate to be part of a cohort, and more generally a program, that thrives on collaboration. Yes, many of my colleagues are unique, insisting on transforming housing projects into dance pieces or historical fiction, but why dedicate body and soul to a practice if not to be surrounded by radical thought and unexpected paths to a positive future? This time spent together working to develop our craft and vision for architecture has energized me, the honest dedication of my classmates has eroded the cynicism I once felt towards this practice, helped me see how much we can accomplish and pushed me to create more critical work.
After years of sharing space, challenges, and growth I see us as a team, a collective well of ideas and connections that can carry us forward. Here, in the final week of our graduate architecture careers my friends and colleagues present rigorous and radical visions of architecture, suited for the challenges of a changing world. They have created this work from solitary apartments and cramped living rooms, with kids running behind their screens and relatives arguing in the kitchen. With few of the resources we came to Berkeley for, we created meaningful work that can serve as a guide for our next steps and a reminder of the community we have built over the last three years. Isolation aside, I leave this program feeling supported and eager to see how each of us takes our ideas into practice. I know we will stay in touch and continue to hold each other up, one Zoom happy hour at a time.