As members of the faculty of USC Planning School's graduate program in real estate development, we share Sam Hall Kaplan's concern about student awareness and sensitivity toward design. But we feel that he was unduly severe on students who, after all, have come to the program to learn.
The design curriculum consists of four parts:
1--How to think in three dimensions.
2--How to understand and visualize architectural and engineering drawings.
3--How to approach design issues with a critical eye, based on an in-depth understanding of why certain buildings and spaces are acclaimed by architects and developers.
4--Design studio experience that forces students to grapple with design and planning issues in hands-on exercises.
At the time of Mr. Kaplan's jury participation, the students had completed only the first part. The point of the exercise was to make the students begin to think about the types of issues raised by Mr. Kaplan. However, the course specifically designed to teach critical appraisal comes later.
We do not expect students necessarily to bring such design sensitivity into the program. We do expect them to have it when they leave.