In this article, originally published in 2 parts on Metropolis Magazine as “Building a University: How 5 California Schools Approach Campus Design” (Part 1 & Part 2), Sherin Wing investigates how different Californian universities utilize the design of their campus to express and enable their differing missions.
A school is more than just the sum of its intellectual records. Its legacy is very much tied to a physical place: its campus. More than a mascot or a symbol, the design of a campus and the buildings that form it greatly contribute to a university’s lasting identity.
The key, then, is how a school’s material identity advances its intellectual mission. For example, academic buildings often physically symbolize the type of scholarly exploration and research that takes place therein. Administrative centers, on the other hand, anchor the more idealistic work taking place in the lecture and science wings. At the same time, individual buildings can function collectively as didactic forums for the public, demonstrating such principles as energy and water-use efficiencies. Lastly, the circulation between the buildings themselves is important. Open green space, for instance, can accommodate crowds, lectures, and even protests, providing a counterpoint to the more stately, processional routes that crisscross a campus.
Clearly these are different, and at times conflicting, agendas. How are they ranked and pursued by individual universities? Five campus architects at different California universities reveal how similar factors work in concert to produce very different visions and results. For some the initial plan of a school continues to wield influence over future developments, while in other cases a commitment to architectural movements and types gives rise to an eclectic, flexible approach to campus design.
Find out how these 5 California Universities approach their architecture after the break
The United States has an architecture school in almost every major university in each of its 50 states. And while it’s true that the choices seem endless, it is also true that there are certain values and approaches that dominate. Ecological architecture, for example, is often not passive, but is technology-laden, which means a large production footprint for materials like PV panels, special types of glass, or other cladding solutions. This is just one example of how industry and pedagogy shape one another and in turn influence the perception of “legitimate” architecture. Teaching architectural history offers another example in which what comprises “relevant” history is all-too-often limited to Euro-American examples. Everything in Asia beyond twenty years ago, whether it is Southeast, South, or East, is usually ignored because – although the names of historical architects may well be known in their own countries, they are not easily translatable for the average English-language author of architecture survey books.
The truth is that even in architecture schools in European nations, approaches and emphases on pedagogical content and styles vary widely. For example, schools in northern Europe have very different views on what is important and how to teach it than schools in western Europe. One school with a very defined point of view is the Brussels Faculty of Engineering, or Bruface, created by Vrije Universiteit Brussel in cooperation with the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. There, students can receive a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering; they are trained not just in design, but in engineering, emphasizing a more structural, practical approach.
Ecological design is rapidly becoming a staple in architecture school. Its various names—sustainable, “green,” and environmental—all refer to the objective of designing buildings that have a smaller carbon footprint, from construction materials to functionality post-occupancy. Acronyms like HVAC and PV are now part of the mainstream architecture lexicon. These approaches are not globally applicable, however. For example, in tropical climates, the use of such technology is both impractical and ineffective. Additionally, the carbon footprint resulting from producing these devices and systems can be significant.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Architectureis addressing these very issues. Founded in 1958, the Department of Architecture is oriented towards architecture for Asia and the tropics. Kenneth Ho, Design Director and Co-Founder of Hopscape Design + Architecture and NUS alumnus, says, “Everything here [in the U.S.] is about sustainability like HVAC or solar panels. But there, sustainable architecture is passive. For example, when you build a house, it actually breathes because you build it off the ground, the air circulates through the floor and then out through the roof. Because it’s a tropical climate, you have to do this. NUS is one of the leading schools in teaching this in Southeast Asia. Its become a hub for neighboring countries who send their students to study there to learn about this.”
For most schools, receiving an M.Arch requires 2 to 3 years, and, according to NCARB, IDP towards licensure takes an average of slightly over 5 years, excluding the time to take the exams themselves.
The University of Minnesota School of Architecture is offering two degrees that will significantly reduce IDP requirements—pending approval by NCARB— and thus reduce the time it takes to attain one’s architecture license. Two M.S. programs, an M.S. in Architecture Research Practices and an M.S. in Architecture Metropolitan Design are designed as additional year-long degrees attained while students pursue their M.Arch’s. Even better, both are structured to not only help students attain up to 930 IDP hours toward completing the degree, but to defray tuition while doing it.
With its current total population over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world. What’s more, current demographics show that, rather than being concentrated, India’s population is spread throughout its states. In demographic and statistical terms, then, India is ideally situated to provide architecture students with new insights into Ekistics, or the science of human settlements.
Founded in 2001 in response to the ongoing shifts in the urban landscape, the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, grounds students in the ways that nature interacts with human needs/ethics in order to produce professionals instrumental in advancing a better built environment.
AD Architecture School Guide: Institute on Aging and Environment, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning
According to the UN, the elderly population not only exceeds the population of children in developed nations, but will increase more rapidly than any other demographic over the next 50 years — in fact, it could even triple.
Although most countries deal with the elderly population through institutionalized care, whether public, as in Canada or in Great Britain, or private, as in the U.S., the quality of care is widely divergent. It’s therefore fitting – and necessary – that the physical environment’s effect on elderly care is becoming a more prominent issue for research.
One institute that is leading the way in this research is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning’s Institute on Aging and Environment.
Finland is consistently ranked by several different organizations, amongst them the UN, as the top in student’s education, well-being and even overall human development rankings. These factors make pursuing higher education in Finland equally appealing. Why? Because in a country that is highly ranked for human development indices like life expectancy, and GDP per capita, and world happiness, the standard of living is most likely to be good for students as well. This is an important consideration for architecture students who often experience enormous stress within the studio culture which dominates most curriculums.
At Tampere University of Technology, not only can students benefit from a high standard of living, but they can also pursue a degree, conducted entirely in English, at all three degree levels: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral. Within those degree levels, the major areas span the range of practice-oriented architecture curriculums to those focused on theory and research. Focuses include Architecture, Architectural Construction, Architectural Design, Architectural and Urban Research, History of Architecture, Housing Design, Urban Planning and Design and Theory of Urban Planning and Design.
Architecture school should provide an environment to explore issues alongside practical skills and professional training. Ideally, there will also be opportunities to work with faculty and students in fields that complement architecture. Add a campus situated at an international city and you have The University of Hong Kong.
Located on the island of Hong Kong, HKU’s program is not one single entity but rather, it is a consortium under the Faculty of Architecture, what other universities refer to as a “college.” The Faculty of Architecture includes the departments and divisions of Architecture, Real Estate and Construction, Urban Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture. In addition, it also runs the Shanghai Study Centre. Sited in Shanghai, it provides a public arena for conferences, houses a public gallery. Interdepartmental as well as inter-university studios are also conducted there.
The Berlage Institute closed in 2012. But the Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design is open for business. And it is accepting students. Located at the Delft University of Technology, though they are independent entities, the new, re-visioned Berlage is not simply a continuation of the original Berlage. Instead, it has been reinvisioned to train students who already have either an M.Arch or a five-year degree.
The Berlage challenges students to understand the issues and principles surrounding the economy, the environment, and society as the route towards good architecture. History and cultural issues are therefore central to this Master’s of Science degree, as they should be. Because in today’s economy, the formula for success demands more than just an agility with computer programs. Students need to be able to exercise critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, many school studios fetishize style over substance but when their students graduate, they are ill-trained.
Social justice. How can that be achieved? At Portland State University School of Architecture, faculty and students are exploring just this issue in different forms. Often when people think of Portland or the state of Oregon, images of “crunchy” eco-“warriors” come to mind, but these issues are not simply proxies for a lifestyle or consumer choices. Rather, when discussing people and ecology, the issues are about resources. Specifically, how do humans use and allocate resources to promote fair, well-distributed advancements rather than exploitation, oppression and conspicuous consumption.
The ongoing struggles in the world’s economies has produced several innovations in the field of Architecture. One important change has been for professionals and students to seek more interdisciplinary skills that better prepare them for these inevitable economic shifts. Schools have responded in kind, defining those skills in either intellectual, analytical terms (i.e. teaching students how to better critically analyze situations while eschewing superficial “theoretical” approaches) while other schools have emphasized a more practical approach.
InSB exemplifies the latter: a program that combines all aspects of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) into a single curriculum for both undergraduates and graduates. Founded by Tabitha Ponte and co-founder Arturo Vasquez, the school has an ambitious mission: to offer a truly integrated AEC education that is tuition-free.
What are Live Projects? A UK term, it refers to collaborations between architecture schools and real clients on real projects. In the US, for example, these are merely referred to as industry collaborations. Clients are widely variant, from municipal governments and youth organizations, as well as galleries and community-based gardens.
There are many iterations of this teaching model in the UK so the issue is, how to determine a good fit for prospective students? One issue that is increasingly at the fore of students’ minds is how to balance idealism with practical skills. At Birmingham City University’sBIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design), the program is structured precisely to help students achieve that balance.