Tucked away in an apartment in Rome, Italy, Architectural Studies Teaching Fellow Andrew Guild ’13 spent countless hours around his dining room table surrounded by friends, fellow students, and even a little pizza. Everyone gathered for a single purpose-to sketch. It became a welcome ritual during the architectural studies major’s time abroad in the spring of 2012.
This scene around the apartment table is now just a memory, but the experience of artists, pizza and numerous sketchbooks lives on in the halls of Houghton House in the form of HWS Sketch-In, a new event inspired by Guild’s experience in Italy, made possible through the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Teaching Fellows program.
“I found that drawing with friends is not only fun, but also helps the creative process,” says Guild, who while in Italy was enrolled in Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Kirin Makker’s course, “The Designer’s Sketchbook in Rome,” which required 12-15 hours of drawing assignments each week.
“I hoped to replicate my experiences in Rome by creating an event on campus in which all students could come together to listen to music, eat pizza, and draw.”
He spearheaded an event now known as HWS Sketch-In, the first occurrence of which took place Feb. 6. Supported by architectural studies faculty, Sketch-In is a biweekly event during which students are welcome to come learn from each other and hone their techniques.
“The first event was a great success,” recalls Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Jeffrey Blankenship. “It not only helped introduce first-year students to some important skills needed in their courses, but also allowed upper-level students to work on larger projects together.”
“Andrew’s idea highlights the innovative nature of the Teaching Fellows program. It is adaptable to the needs of particular departments,” says Ruth Shields, assistant director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.
While building upon skills and gaining valuable experience are important functions of the Sketch-In, both Guild and Blankenship have larger aspirations for the budding event.
“Building a sense of community within the architecture department is very important,” says Guild, echoing a similar sentiment by Blankenship.
“This coming together of students of all years is crucial in building what the department has dubbed studio culture,” says Blankenship. “Essentially we are striving to create an environment where teaching can happen without faculty intervention because the students are comfortable learning from each other.”
While architectural studies majors have the opportunity to meet with Teaching Fellows five nights a week, Blankenship stresses the importance of working in a communal environment. “By drawing and working on projects together, a healthy competition develops that encourages students to do better work and continue to improve. The Sketch-In is a great opportunity for the social aspect of the event to translate to other collaborations between students.”
Having garnered a crowd of nearly 30 people at the initial Sketch-In, Guild hopes to see the program continue to flourish as the semester presses on. “For now, we will continue to meet every other Wednesday but if student interest surrounding the Sketch-In persists, we may make it a weekly event.”
“At the very least, we may need a bigger room,” says Blankenship.
The next session of the Sketch-In is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in Houghton House. All interested students are encouraged to attend.