Early in August, we introduced Sherin Wing’s latest exciting series she’s writing for ArchDaily: The AD Architecture School Guide. In case you missed it, you can check Sherin’s review of the University of Utah here. And don’t forget to follow her on Twitter if you want to provide any feedback. At the University of Kentucky College of Design or UK/CoD, the School of Architecture has taken the goals of engagement, service, and education as an opportunity to transform not just the physical landscape but the economy and social structure of the Commonwealth as well. It is, frankly, an exciting program. And as exemplified by the The River Cities Project, practical skills are combined with pedagogy to enrich and improve the lives of all people: students, faculty and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. If that seems like a tall order, read on because this is definitely a program that succeeds.
The River Cities Project began in 2008 and as we discovered from speaking to Dean Michael Speaks, its ambition is only matched by its success: “The ambition, from the outset, was to use design–architecture, landscape architecture, planning, adaptive reuse–to help stimulate development in river cities on the Ohio River, which forms the northern border of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Bringing to bear the immense talent and energy of our students and faculty on these problems has enabled us not only to help cities with short and long term planning and development, but it has also enabled us to advance the argument that architecture and design add economic and cultural value. This latter point is an extremely important one for our students to learn and for our college and profession to advance. Working with city officials, businesses, non-profit groups, and, most importantly, residents, we have researched and made design proposals that in at least two cases are in the process of being implemented. More importantly, these River City projects have given our students and faculty the opportunity to make real world interventions that show, by example, the real contributions architecture and design make to our continued economic recovery and cultural development. And they allow the college to fulfill its ambition and duty to serve the Commonwealth and its people.” In real terms, that means that the program has worked with six different cities within the past four years. And with its ongoing successes, there are many new initiatives in the future. People may ask, well, how long does one of these projects last? Is it an elective or studio-based? Well, true to their commitment in providing not just a service to the community, but to their students as well, The River Cities Project is a permanent part of the School of Architecture’s curriculum. It is a year-long (occasionally longer), studio-based project. The first semester, Fall, is comprised of research, which Dean Speaks describes as “embedding in the city: meeting and getting to know officials, businesses, residents. Spring semester coincides with developing the design proposals, a process in which the city is consulted extensively. Here’s one example: “this year we have been working with the Louisville Water Company in Louisville, KY, to develop a master plan for a thirty-acre site on the Ohio River north of the city. In fall 2011, Freek Perysn, from the Brussels-based architecture office 51N4E, worked with our students to create initial mapping and planning projects for the site. In spring, Elodie Nourigat, from N+B Architects in Montpellier, France, ran a studio to design a new water education facility and a more detailed master plan of the site. And this summer, three students selected by the Louisville Water Company, worked with me and Elodie to make final models of the water education facility buildings. These projects were delivered last week to the Louisville Water Company and will be used in their efforts to discuss and develop the site. And this is a typical project for us.”
Of course, every potential student wants to know who they might work with. A partial list of past studio instructors includes Gary Bates / Spacegroup, Oslo; Julien de Smedt / JDS / Copenhagen; Matthijs Bouw, One Architecture, Amsterdam; Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu / SO-IL, NYC; Freek Persyn, 51N4E, Brussels and Elodie Nourigat, N+B Architects, Montpellier, France. There is even an opportunity to present work at international exhibitions such as the Intenational Architeture Biennale Rotterdam. As mentioned above, the School of Architecture is part of the University of Kentucky’s College of Design, which also includes Interior Design and Historic Preservation as well. There are thirty-six regular faculty members in the Architecture program, which does not include visiting faculty. Facilities include an extensive design library, a computer lab that accommodates large-format printing and 3D modeling capabilities and both a workshop and fablab. Here are a few more statistics for you. The tuition for undergrad residents is $4,978.00, for non-residents, it’s $10,065.00. For grad student residents, it’s $5,229.00 and non-resident grad students, it’s $10,773.00. The number of students enrolled for Fall 2011-2012 was 242 undergraduates and 45 graduate students. Interested? Contact their Student Services at (859) 257-7623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.