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Free Sample Personal Statement in Design

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.--Robert Frost--Have you ever taken the road less traveled? When you drive home from work, do you ever explore? Sure, it might take longer than usual, and there may be unpleasant stops along the way, but occasionally you will find an unexpected surprise. By casting aside strict conventions and routines and by taking risks, we can achieve things we never considered or thought possible. I find that many people in our religiously capitalist society only seek the fastest, cheapest, and most efficient route. While some industries hire to increase diversity and thereby innovation, many dare not attempt anything new. In particular, many established architects and developers fear taking chances and fear the risk of failure inherent in untested methods. I, on the other hand, believe that architects must not feel constrained by the past but must follow up on promising possibilities. Exploring undiscovered methods and paths requires self-criticism, self-assurance, and courage.
In my junior year in college, I doubted the teaching style of my instructor in my first design studio class. I felt as if he pushed his own rigid ideas into the students' creations and did not allow the students the opportunity to pursue their own original designs. Fearing my intellectual growth might be stunted by his lectures and dissatisfied with his teaching, I basically taught myself design by researching and combing through hundreds of architecture books. Through my own studies, I came to realize that architecture should be learned, not preached. That semester, I further challenged myself by working on a design of my own creation, a design not as signed by my instructor. While it would have been easier to accept the instructor's lessons and just follow his ideas, I realized that I could never take the easy way again now that I discovered that the beauty of architecture lies in learning it myself. That semester helped formulate my approach towards architecture and influence my design decisions to this day.

Although self-motivation is extremely important, seeking the guidance and critique of others is essential to good design since others can find what I may have overlooked. One critic who has been particularly crucial to the development of my work is Craig Scott, a Progressive Architecture Awards Winner in 1996, who worked together with Homa Fardjadi and Sima Fardjadi. Craig was my studio critic during the spring term of 1997. His instruction helped me achieve a level of design that I could not have attained from books alone. Of greatest importance, he taught me a combination of methodology and theory to the process of creating designs. He taught me to begin with a simple conceptual spatial model, then add site context and programmatic concerns to create an integrated building. The application of a methodology to the design process made my work more structured and rigorous than before. In Craig's studio, I designed a furniture workshop for downtown Ann Arbor that was chosen as an exhibit in the 1997 Summer Student Exhibition in the University of Michigan. Professors chose the most outstanding projects in their studio and put them in the exhibition. Although this was certainly not a major trophy, the exhibition represented my first accomplishment in the studio and was a milestone in my architectural career. When I saw my work in the exhibition room, all the failures and difficulties I had experienced seemed worth it.

Later, I designed urban housing in downtown Ann Arbor for the fall studio 1997, which was also chosen as an exhibit in the 1998 Annual Student Exhibition. For that exhibition, entitled "Taking Aim," each professor chose the best three projects from his/her studio. In the exhibition, the alumni of previous years and students from other architecture schools were invited to share our success. These exhibitions were important to me not only because my designs were chosen, but also because they gave me the opportunity to display my work before the most important critics of all--the general public, which included the students and teachers from different years and different schools. I plan to continue my studies at the graduate school level to have the opportunity to interact and share knowledge with students who are as focused and excited about architecture as I am. I have visited Harvard Graduate School of Design several times, and each time I left impressed and enlightened by the variety and complexity of the students' work. The work I saw at GSD had that same element of innovation and freshness that I strive for, the one that goes beyond the ordinary path. I want to be an explorer and to face challenges that I can solve with sheer will and creativity.

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