August 2, 2023

Damilola Alabi

University of Oregon

Degree Program
Masters Architecture

Year in School

Describe your studio culture:

I’d start with a quote from Donald Albreght “Not unlike plastic surgeons who sculpt the human form, filmmakers who digitize it, and geneticists who try to clone it, these architects see exciting possibilities in the modern capacity to reconfigure identity and the self.”

This comes from the fact that the Track One program curates professionals from Non Traditional architecture backgrounds, overall we get the intense tilt to the most recent obsession of the various prized passion projects. There’s a general camaraderie and sharing especially when it comes to making the studio space more livable, we have a tea table with the whole works except perishable creamer. The occasional baked goods drop.

And at one time we had a full lesson in making the perfect brew from a professor who was obsessed with espresso machines from the 60’s. It was prefect mix of design history, the physics of coffee making and appreciation of the machine which ended up in an a tasty treat of a shot of Affogatos and cake for those present. That was going above and beyond class time but it gave us all a good kick to churn out some more work for pin ups.
I think most importantly there’s a healthy awareness of where we all have strengths and weaknesses and everyone allows that to shine through in the quality of work.

Give one tip that has helped you succeed in your studio:

If you are in the masters program, talk to folks from other years in the other design undergraduate programs, if you are an undergrad talk to the masters folks. You’ll learn a ton about simple nifty design workflow tricks from them. I recall after our first quarter I really wanted to improve my site drawings, and a chance encounter with a 3rd year landscape architecture student at the output room and they shared a workflow that not only cut my design time in half it greatly improved my site drawings.

What motivates you to work hard in studio?

That fact that you only get one chance per quarter to do your best work and that goes into your portfolio. Truth be told, no one goes back to the file after the semester is over to check if they joined that line to the vertice and cleared all those errors before hitting print!
It’s a discipline to be fastidious over the details of your drawings and good file management while working at such a fast pace, but your future colleagues will be grateful if you built that in early. If you want something you will be proud of, put in the work, it’s yours for posterity.

What aspect of your studio experience do you think will help you get a job?
Learning to communicate your ideas and working with people with a different learning style and experience than you.


What can professors do to create a helpful and supportive studio culture?

I finding being involved and empathetic to the other life of the student outside the studio helps. I had this professor who wouldschedule mental health checks sometime within the semester week sprint where the students could just talk about other things apart from the studio.

I found that intriguing because, as grad students, quite a number of the cohort had families at home who are in a very different time of life, and still expected to come through week after week with all this amazing output.

Sometimes time to breathe especially with someone who is your instructor helps align your motivations. That particular studio came out with the most diverse range of projects I have ever seen from one studio. They went all out, above and beyond!

What should a high school student understand about studio at your university?

It’s a place where you get to make use of the most basic materials and skills to make something that has the power to shape life in itself. And you get to look cool while doing it.

What can AIAS do to help improve your studio experience?
It would be great to see a compendium of different studio experiences across the country, in one book written by AIAS members. I think that will be relatable for anyone trying to get into any of the design programs who are not sure if it is the right fit for them. And for firms looking to hire, they could take a leaf from the book to make their practices more welcoming for new Hires because they can find something familiar in their culture page and not just perfect written copy.


What would be in your ideal studio care package?
Trail Nuts, Yerba matte, or coconut water, (because Electrolytes) Oatmeal cookies, and a box of Apletes and Cotlets (Because Pacific Northwest favorite!)-This is not a sponsored post, its just a great product.

Complete this sentence: I love studio because…
I love studio because… We get to play like kids again only this time the stakes have a North Arrow. Lol!