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Murcutt Master Class: Tell All Your Friends

May 30, 2012

Two years ago I was lucky enough to participate in the Glenn Murcutt Master Class. It was a tough and frustrating experience for me, one I subsequently blogged about here in one of my most personal and certainly most popular posts. There’s nothing like the keyword “Murcutt” to trigger the search engines.

Unquestionably, my greatest reward from the program was  the people, instructors and participants, I met while there, one of whom recommended that I revisit my original post and see how the experience looked now two years gone. That suggestion, in combination with an email I received the other day from the Murcutt folks asking that we publicize the four open spots remaining in this year’s program, brings me to my keyboard today.

On the last day of the program there was a closing celebration at Richard Leplastrier’s hand crafted house outside Sydney. I was in recovery mode; I’d spent the previous several days in my hotel room with the flu, barely pulling myself out of bed for the disastrous final review of my completely dysfunctional group’s project. I should say, it was the remnants of our group, since we’d bifurcated into two dysfunctional sub-groups just a couple of days before.

Richard’s studio behind his house.

At the closing party, Glenn told a joke that has remained with me since. Three men go to a fancy restaurant. They are completely unsophisticated, loud, coarse and crude. By the end of the meal they’ve not only offended the other guests, but they’re also infuriated by the small portions and unfamiliar flavors, not to mention the size of the bill. They call over the maître d’ and complain vehemently, to which he replies, “We are so sorry for your experience sirs, please accept this meal on us and most of all, please tell all your friends.”

We all laughed of course and Glenn quipped, “so whatever your experiences here have been, please, tell all your friends!”

Indeed, the Murcutt Program is like a fancy restaurant. The portions are small (you get two weeks) and prices are high. Like the incredible dinner I once had at Le Jules Verne on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, I savor the exotic tastes and tidbits I encountered in Australia. The truth is, I also  love street cart food. While on a three month project in Macerata, Italy, I eagerly awaited each Wednesday market with its delicious street cart pan e porchetta. As with any experience, fancy or plain and simple, what you take away depends mostly on what you bring.

So do you hang out at the street carts or dine with society?  I won’t fault you for either one. In fact, I hope you do exactly what you most enjoy. Is Le Jules Verne going to change their menu based on my input? I don’t think so. Nor will the porchetta man in Macerata.  They’re both doing exactly what they should be doing. I’d love the chance to buy Glenn and Richard and all the instructors from Australia a porchetta sandwich in Macerata. Even though the Murcutt program is an architectural version of a fancy restaurant, they are down-to earth people and would enjoy the street vendor experience, as would the friends I made from the Yucatan, Colorado, South Africa and New Zealand. We’d all have a great time.

A local native attended the barbecue as well.

In the meantime, there are four openings still available for this year’s class. Be sure you can afford it and go with an open mind and heart. Don’t expect to come home able to design the next Pritzker Prize building, at least not right away. I don’t think that’s something Glenn can teach in two weeks. But do be prepared to bring back a suitcase full of unexpected experiences. Whether your money and time are well spent is entirely up to you.

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