“I’ve always loved playing with form and space and all the different components of architecture. I’m also interested in foreign languages: throughout high school, I kept adding language after language, and now I speak six of them, including English. So those have always been my core areas—but what I really enjoy about Bennington is the fact that you can study broadly and look into all the different aspects of the disciplines that you’re interested in.
“Studying foreign languages in my high school was mainly focused on grammar, with very little about the culture and people. At Bennington, we do study grammar, but it’s always through something else. So this term, for example, I’m in a class on Italian opera, and we’re watching all these different operas. We learn about the culture first, and then the grammar falls into place.
“That relates to architecture in many ways, because when you design a building, there’s always a context to the site. Architecture has so many aspects to explore: the mathematical side, the social science, the political, the legal, the art side. For my architecture class this term, I designed a hypothetical building for the Bennington campus, and chose a site between the observatory and the orchard. In looking at my site, I analyzed the topography, the buildings, the wildlife, even where the wind blows. And from that I generated a form. The context is utterly necessary.
“Recently I had my first Plan meeting [a meeting where the student presents his educational plan to a faculty panel for discussion], and my committee was Barbara Alfano [Italian], Andrew McIntyre [math], and Donald Sherefkin [architecture]. One question they asked me was, ‘Do you think of languages and mathematics as simply supplemental to architecture, or are they an integral part of it?’ We talked about how all the things I’m interested in are part of the architectural process. Mathematics may seem like the more technical, engineering part, but it’s also conceptual and has to do with the different shapes and forms and mapping things. And then languages—there’s a whole other psychoanalytic side to architecture, connected to the way different cultures have had different ways of thinking about spaces.
“Donald has always told me ‘Study broadly, think broadly,’ so I’ve been exploring different areas of Bennington. This term I’m edging into philosophy through this Agrarian Myth class. In the future I’d like to take a political economy class, to look at international relations and political structures and how they interplay. So ‘study broadly’ has been a great piece of advice that I’ve used throughout my entire time here.”