A Better View
Where, oh where are images of the Piero Lissoni–designed staircase for his Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam (“History Lesson,” by Eva Hagberg, July/August 2012, p. 66)? The “grand staircase” is mentioned no fewer than 11 times. But there’s no photo—not even one—showing how the “signature piece in his modern addition to the new hotel” achieves all that Hagberg enthuses over. That staircase is, after all, Hagberg’s main point. If it was worth mentioning that “the central staircase is the topic at hand,” show us. If it’s the key link in Lissoni’s addition, operating “not only as a connector between floors but also between the hotel’s existing building and the new glass addition,” we’d like to see it.

Other than that, this issue was not bad. Kudos to you and the staff on the discussions about the new Barnes Foundation, the MArch tuition-salary disconnect, and three emerging design firms. Well done!

Editors’ Note: Michael McCauley’s point is well taken. Although the staircase could be seen in the photograph on page 70, we’ve included an additional one above to provide readers with another view.

Show Me the Money
I find it interesting that both educators, when asked a very direct question about student debt, deftly sidestepped the answer (“Payback Time,” July/August 2012, p. 36). Such rhetoric does not answer the question of why there is such an imbalance between the cost of the education versus the earning power of the degree. The follow-up questions are: How does the curriculum need to change to increase the value of the degree? What skills do architectural companies truly value? What does a student need to know to bring value to their employer?

Eric Owen Moss’s response to the question about the student debt to income ratio of young architects rubbed me the wrong way. Moss rejected the notion that the cost of education can be related to the value of the skill that education provides. He claimed that there wouldn’t be demand for the product his institution was selling if it didn’t have value. I say bullshit. This is the same argument bankers made about escalating home values in the early 2000s. Moss, like the head of any institution that benefits from the high cost of its product, will say anything to justify that cost. Furthermore, just because someone buys something doesn’t mean they understand its value. This is a hard reality that our society is learning about trusting the words of self-interested institutional leaders.

Categories: Design Education