Southern California Institute of Architecture

"I'm embarrassed for my profession" says commenter

In this week's comments update, readers are debating the hours architecture students work and discussing other top stories.

News of two SCI-Arc faculty members being put on administrative leave for suggesting that architecture students should work long hours for low pay has sparked conversation amongst readers.

Tom Wiscombe and Marrikka Trotter, who have since apologised for their comments on Instagram, were placed on administrative leave following a Town Hall meeting with students that took place on March 28.

Many students, alumni, and others in the architectural community felt the discussion condoned negative labour practices in the industry.

"This mentality has to change"

Readers agree. "While this type of behavior has been part of the profession forever, I would think that SCI-Arc as a teaching institution would have policies in place to prevent this kind of predatory activity," said MKE Tom.

"They shouldn't be allowed to teach anymore," continued Jacapo. "This mentality has to change, and the only way is to root it out. They can go back to working 60 hours a day for peanuts if they want."

Stan Haas was also annoyed: "I'm embarrassed for my profession – my pride is for the many successful design firms whose businesses compensate employees fairly and offer true work-life balance environments. It can be done and we as a profession need to demand it!"

"There's another side to this story though," replied Walter Astor. "Many ambitious young students are keen to gain meaningful office experience with a good design firm. Lacking real income-generating skills, they offer their time as unpaid interns to the architectural firm. For some it's a calculation – they'd rather work for a while for free at a serious practice than getting paid for their time at a hack firm cranking out drawings for fast-food chain restaurants."

Does the way in which architecture students are treated need to change? Join the discussion ›

111 West 57th Completion aerial images
World's skinniest skyscraper by SHoP Architects completes in Manhattan

"Just because something is possible doesn't mean it is a good idea" says reader 

Readers have left more than 80 comments on our story about SHoP Architects' design for a supertall skyscraper in Manhattan. It is both the world's skinniest and the second tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

"Just because something is possible doesn't mean it is a good idea," said Furious B.

"Waddaya know," added Flex Foto, "turns out you can be too rich and too thin."

Heywood Floyd felt differently: "All this bellyaching about the one per cent is getting pretty stale at this point. There have always been ostentatious displays of wealth, why should this era be any different? Plus you have all chosen a profession that caters to and requires moneyed clients to maintain its existence. At least SHOP gave us an intriguing architectural solution."

Was building 111 West 57th Street a good idea? Join the discussion ›

Wolf D Prix
"I'm not building for Putin" says Wolf D Prix in defence of Russian projects

Commenter claims "architecture is politics"

Readers are riled by Coop Himmelb(l)au co-founder Wolf D Prix, who has defended his studio's decision to continue working in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

"Extremely opportunistic stance," said Roman Popadiuk. "Complete lack of humanistic values."

Jiri Mature continued: "It is sad that a once young fighter eager to pull down the establishment and make change is now but a slave to money ready to support oppression and dictatorship in the name of 'art'. It is not your architecture that burns, it is humans."

"Art is a conscious process and a response to the conditions affecting humans and the world," concluded Zea Newland. "If you ignore the circumstances of the creation of your art you're not an artist, just a businessman."

Are commenters being harsh? Join the discussion ›

Render of the volcano-like performing arts centre
Heatherwick Studio designs volcano-like performing arts centre for China

Reader calls Heatherwick Studio-designed performing arts centre "starchitecture at its finest"

Commenters are discussing Thomas Heatherwick's design for a performing arts centre in Hainan, China, that draws on the island's volcanic landscape and Hainanese opera costumes.

"Looks like someone dropped a Pantone swatch book," said Ken Yarnell. "Not crazy about the exterior. The interior gauzy lightness is much more appealing."

"I like it more than I thought," replied Miles Teg. "A building with a story, created from actual geographical and cultural elements instead of trying to create a cool form just for coolness' sake. This is, actually, starchitecture at its finest."

Diogo Pereira agreed: "Everything Heatherwick Studio is doing seems light and fresh."

What do you think? Join the discussion ›

Comments update

Dezeen is the world's most commented architecture and design magazine, receiving thousands of comments each month from readers. Keep up to date on the latest discussions on our comments page.