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I have been smited by the techno-gods yet again.

I am away from home and away from my computer at the moment which means Architecture School season pass is useless.  It really is quite frustrating but it could be worse.

Some people can’t watch the show at all.  It has been reported in the comments the show is not available for download in Australia.  Why would the producers, or Apple or whomever made this decision not want the show to be for sale to every iTunes user?

Lucky for me Sundance channel will be re-airing the episode Saturday and I will post a recap and response soon after.  In the mean time has anyone seen it?  What were your thoughts? Do you know how to share it with our friends in Australia?  COMMENT and let us know!

For those of you who, like me, have not gotten a chance to see it yet the re-air schedule is:

  • Saturday, Aug 30, 2:30pm e/p
  • Sunday, Aug 31, 6:30pm e/p
  • Wednesday, Sep 3, 8:30pm e/p
  • Wednesday, Oct 8, 9:00pm e/p
  • Thursday, Oct 9, 1:00am e/p

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Last night I  finished watching the first episode of Architecture School, the (perhaps mislabeled) Architecture “reality TV show” from the Sundance channel. I went to my computer, eager to post my reactions and of course my internet connection stopped working. It still isn’t up but thankfully, I have an internet capable phone so I can at tap out at least a cursory post now.

The first half of the episode was a quick paced, get-to-know-you of the students, their mentor and the discouraging brutality of the review process. I found myself uncomfortably shifting in my chair as I watched students try and articulate their ideas. So far the process of designing seems to be the heart of the show rather than any quibbling that may crop up around its margins. This sentiment is backed up by Architecture School senior producer Rob Tate in his comment on my previous post clarifying that the show is more about “collaboration” and than other competition based reality TV shows.

This focus on process, in design and eventually the building of the house, is brilliant on the part of the series producers because those processes are inherently dramatic and don’t need the extra dressing of absurd mini-competitions and cash prizes. The competition within each of the students the benign antagonism of their mentor will make for plenty engaging television. It is unfortunate that “reality TV” is the description that has been bandied about to describe the show. It is, as far as I can see, a documentary and deserves that more noble title.

The latter portion of the episode dealt briefly with the issue of context. We were introduced to the neighborhood and given quick sample of the previous two design-build projects. The first is inspired by the ubiquitous shotgun houses of New Orleans and despite being unmistakably contemporary, plays well with the surrounding turn of the century homes. The second home, which remains unsold, does not and is described both as the “house from space” and just plain “ugly” by neighbors.

I instantly recognized the house from previous reading about the project and I can remember being a little disappointed in the way it addressed its surroundings. I am hopeful that the house produced by the batch of students on the show will keep this in mind but even if they don’t, as one of the locals expressed this episode, a “house from space” would be better then the empty lot that preceded it.

I love the show so far and encourage everyone reading these words to check it out. If you missed the first episode on TV you can easily download it on iTunes (I did) which also offers a season pass for the show at $9.99. After one episode I can say with confidence it is worth the price of admission.

(thank you for forgiving typos and grammar mistakes in this post.  It was was after all, written on a phone)

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In the myriad skill-based reality TV shows I always thought it was shocking there wasn’t an architecture based show in the mix. I sat through countless episodes of Project: Runway with my roommates thinking “I could give two poots about dresses. What about buildings?! “ Also, having been around architecture students quite a bit I can say they can give even the most nasty fashionistas a run for their money when it comes to being catty.

Well, tonight at 9pm (8pm CT/10MT) my wish will be fulfilled when the Sundance Channel premieres Architecture School, TV’s first reality-TV show about architecture.

The six episode series will follow the trials and tribulations of a group of architecture students as they compete by designing a 1200sq ft, affordable homes for post-Katrina New Orleans. The semi-humanitarian focus of the project may be an attempt to rise above the petty drama or your average reality TV show but the stakes will be high. The winning project will actually be produced and sold and likely appear in boldface type on the winners resume. That might be enough for the gloves to come off.

For those of you who don’t get the Sundance channel the episodes will be available for purchase through iTunes. In fact, the first episode is already available. I am downloading it right this moment.

Check out the Architecture School Website

Comment and tell us what you think!

UPDATE: Archinect has an article about the making of the show as well as an interview with its creators.

I found out about this on UNbeige. The finest of all the design blogs on the internet and one of my daily reads.

UPDATE #2
Rob Tate, one of the creators of Architecture School commented here to point out the collaborative nature of though show. He says “It is more about the cooperation of the class to design and build the house rather than a reality competition show.”

This actually makes the series that much more appealing to me. I think it will be great for a general audience to see just how much architects and the amount of collaboration that goes into good design. Mr. Tate also noted that the show goes all the way through the actual building process. Even better!

I am about to watch the first episode now on my iPhone. Be sure to Let us know what you think in a comment!

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