Well, that was fun.
Sean and I just presented our final boards for our project on Berlin, which examines Richard Rogers’ Daimler-Chrysler Headquarters on Potsdamer Platz, Potsdamer Platz within Berlin, and Berlin within its broader relationship to water.
We’ve been working on it for a while, getting benign feedback from critics. Though we presented a set of maps at three interim crits and two meetings with the studio critic, none of our critique focused on the content of those maps. Nobody suggested that there might be someone on campus we might want to talk to, in order to make sure we understood the elements of this complex ecosystem we were trying to map.
And nobody told us that there would be an urban ecologist on the jury who specializes in water and watersheds.
Sean did fine. I got creamed. I got humiliated in the worst way, when someone asks you to define something the way she wants to hear it, and I didn’t do it right. Her tone of voice was different with me than it was with feedback to other students. Among other points of feedback, she told me that I should go look up watershed in Wikipedia, so rudimentary was my knowledge.
But a few words to my defense. It turns out, my knowledge of these things, while that of a water ecology neophyte, are not as rudimentary as the visiting expert might have had me believe.
My information for this project has largely come from materials in the Berlin Urban Development department. Many of these are good English translations of German materials. In these materials, I’ve come to define the drainage basin as the water catchment area. The materials I’ve been using don’t use the word “watershed.” They use “water catchment.”
So I suppose I’ve been initiated. This is the first class I’ve taken where I have to pin up and discuss my project with a jury. Architecture students go through this all the time, but not history and theory students like me. I got three hours of sleep and I got slammed. I think I can consider myself initiated into architecture school.