As we started talking about Retrospecta 43, we realized that to represent the complexity of an architectural education, we needed to create a flexible structure for the book. Our conversations also revealed the importance of making space for what usually remains beyond the margins: conversations, perspectives, processes, and data. We sought to realize these aims through the book’s organization which became clarified through our collaboration with an excellent graphic design team.
First, we divided Retrospecta 43 into two sections—Design and Discourse—which offer parallel platforms for, on the one hand, the production and analysis of architecture, and, on the other hand, the mycelial conversations which organize, support, and give direction to that work. Second, we imagined a series of inserts, Fringe, which interrupts and stitches together the two sections, offering a look into students’ chaotic flat file drawers and glimpses of paper scraps, fragments, and works in progress. Finally, we solicited written reflections from the studio faculty, program directors, coordinators of events, and the Dean. These work to frame the School’s curriculum as something that is continuously designed, negotiated, and redesigned. We offer the format of reflection as a complement to critique.
After spring recess, when all courses moved online in response to a global viral pandemic, our interest in circumstance and process became more involved. These new and uncertain conditions both restricted and propelled students’ efforts—either way demanding a re-evaluation. For some it was a dose of reality, while for others it spurred new speculations. Throughout this book the pandemic’s effects are registered in reflections and student projects, and in our decision to print canceled and postponed courses and events in grey. We hope that Retrospecta 43 not only represents the thoughtful work produced by students and faculty, but also reflects the unforeseen realities of education in 2019-2020.