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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The word "critique" originates from the French word critique. It first appeared in the English language as critick in the 18th century, and has since evolved to the spelling used today. The word "critique" is most commonly used to describe an article in criticism of a literary or artistic work[1]. In this article the critic (the person writing the critique) examines all aspects of the work and attempts to point out the positive traits and flaws, judging the work based on these criteria.

In certain groups, such as architecture schools, the word "critique" has evolved into a new meaning. A "critique" in architecture school is a review that happens in front of a panel of professors, teacher assistants, adjunct professors and working architects. It is usually referred to simply as a "crit". A crit is an incredible learning experience for architecture students, as the panel points out what they did well, what they did wrong and what they can improve on in the future. This process is similar to the definition mentioned initially, and explains why this form of review is named a critique. In a crit, students can also receive ideas if they are stuck at a point in their project. A crit is an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of experts. The choice and precision of your questions determines how much information you can get out of the critique.

Some professors argue that this form of review shouldn't be referred to as a critique, but rather as a plain review. This is because the main idea behind the word "critique" is the act of criticizing. Professors who are against calling crits "critiques" usually believe that students will learn far more in positive situations and with positive feedback than with criticizing feedback that points out flaws in a student's work. This is because some students get offended and ignore the feedback being presented.

I am against changing the name of a crit for two reasons. First of all a critique is meant to be constructive. If the feedback received is all negative and only points out flaws, then the crit is not being done correctly. I believe that if a critique is done correctly by a panel, the positive feedback far outweighs the negative one, so receiving criticism about your work is essential, because it is meant to be constructive in the first place. Secondly, your work is not the only thing judged at a crit. The way you explain your concept, the way you present your drawings and ideas and the way you support your work with arguments is also considered. Just as in the initial definition stated for the word "critique", a crit in architecture school is meant to examine all aspects of a project. For that reason, I believe "critique" is simply a more specific form of a review, and is a reasonable way to  describe this unique form of constructively reviewing a student's work in a school of architecture.

[1] "critique, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://oed.com/view/Entry/44607?rskey=LjUYkX&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 21, 2012).

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