How to Survive the Dreaded Group Project

For many students, when a teacher mentions a group project in studio, a sense of dread and despair will course through their minds. What if I get a terrible partner? What if I don’t actually want to work with my best friend? What if my partner doesn’t do anything and I’m stuck doing everything? I believe that everyone has had a bad experience in a group setting. It happens. Despite those challenges, you can greatly benefit from group work. It is a standard in the architecture and design community to work on projects in groups, and even if you are the only designer, you still have to work with clients, engineers, marketers, etc. Design is a creative field. Creativity stems from talking to others, bouncing around ideas, getting feedback, and so on. Group projects now, help you to prepare for the future. But there is still that dreaded question: how do I survive the next group project?


Here are some of my tips for choosing a group/partner and working on a group project:

  1. You might love your best friend but know you can’t work with them. That’s fine. Don’t make both you and your friend miserable, risk destroying a friendship, and get a bad grade in the process. It’s not worth it. Just tell your friend that you would like to work with someone else to get a new experience.
  2. Look for someone who has a similar mindset as you. If you both agree on a direction for a project, it will go much smoother in the end.
  3. Find someone with different skills than you. This will help in the end so there is a larger degree of complexity in your work, and so you aren’t both trying to work on the same thing that you both know how to do, and avoiding the things that you don’t. This can also help you learn some new skills along the way.
  4. If you are assigned a group, make the best of it. You never know if your assigned partner might become your best friend. And even if they don’t, they might be a resource for future networking. It never hurts to be friendly and try to create a good working relationship.
  5. Put your best foot forward. Apply the skills you know the best to your project, and learn those that you don’t. The more work you put into a project, the more you will get out of it. Especially in a group setting where others are depending on you for the work you produce and contribute.

And finally, for all projects, don’t be afraid to try something new. School is a time to explore new and crazy ideas. Work with your professors and colleagues and yourself to make the best projects you can. Be creative. Be bold. Be the best designer you can be in Environmental Design.

Tip 1 & 2 Different people can bring different skills to the table – digital rendering, hand sketches, 3D modeling, graphic design, etc. Take advantage of these skills and the variety of ideas in your group to make the best project you can!

Tip 3 You never know if your assigned group partners could become your best friends.

Tip 4 Try your hardest, put all you can into your projects, and remember to take a nap at the end!