Sherin Wing

Sherin Wing, author of ArchDaily's School Guide, also writes for Metropolis and The Architect’s Newspaper. She has also contributed to Archinect and Architect Magazine. She co-authored The Real Architect’s Handbook: Things I Didn’t Learn in Architecture School and is currently writing a book for Routledge on contemporary architects who design sacred spaces. She received her PhD in the Humanities from UCLA. Follow Sherin on Twitter: @SherinWing.

How 5 California Colleges Approach Campus Design

Geisel Library at UC San Diego, designed by William Pereira. Image © Darren Bradley

In this article, originally published in 2 parts on Metropolis Magazine as “Building a University: How 5 Schools Approach 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

AD Architecture School Guide: Brussels Faculty of Engineering [Bruface]

ULB Solbosch – Building R42. Image © gm2011.ulb.ac.be, via Bruface Facebook Page

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 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.

AD Architecture School Guide: National University of Singapore

Work by Anggraeni, Azhar Bin Azmi, Chia Ping Howe Edwin, Liew Liewei Wesley, Neo Hwee Tat, Ren Tian, BA(Arch) Students at NUS, Year 4. Image Courtesy of http://www.arch.nus.edu.sg/gallery/

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.”

AD Architecture School Guide: The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

MATAERIAL (shown in the video above) is “the result of the collaborative research between Petr Novikov, Saša Jokić from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. IAAC tutors representing the Open Thesis Fabrication Program provided their advice and professional expertise.” 

Most architecture programs focus on traditional degrees, ranging from practice-based Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to the more theoretical Doctorate. But, until recently, there has been a void in postgraduate training that actually teaches fresh graduates and experienced professionals new technological skills. The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (or IAAC) has taken an important step towards filling this gap with two programs: the Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) program and the Fab Academy.

AD Architecture School Guide: Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Courtesy of http://www.dkds.dk/

Most architecture schools around the world offer their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in separate tracks. That means that if students want to attain a Master’s degree, they first need to acquire a B.A. or B.S.,which usually takes five years. Altogether, this can be an expensive, eight-year endeavor that can subject students to crippling debt. One US report found that both undergraduate and graduate students can easily accumulate $100,000 in student loan debt, and another finds that “undergraduate students majoring in theology, architecture and history are much more likely to graduate with excessive debt,” compared to those pursuing math and the sciences.

Given these harsh realities, a school that combines both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in a single, five-year program is a welcome option. Enter the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts‘ School of Architecture.

AD Architecture School Guide: University of Minnesota

Courtesy of UMinn College of Design Facebook Page

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.

AD Architecture School Guide: Jamia Millia Islama

is the science of human settlements. Students in the Department of Jamia Millia Islamia study settlements across , including cities like Jodhpur (pictured above). Image Courtesy of shutterstock.com

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: Delft University of Technology

Faculty Workshop. Image Courtesy of www.urbanism.tudelft.nl

Recent reports by the UN on projected population growth until the year 2300, as well as current population trends, have raised numerous issues, from access to healthcare to housing. Of particular importance is how these issues will affect the urban landscape, and how professionals can respond to these changing conditions, on both a local and global scale. Urban planners and designers must not only be concerned about issues such as congestion and mobility, urban renewal and densification, but must also “[take] into account…economic globalization, the consequences of the financial crisis, [and] climate change” as well.

Clearly, these are not matters that can simply be understood by scrolling through different websites over the course of a single afternoon. Luckily, just these issues are explored at Delft University of Technology’s Master of Science in Urbanism.

AD Architecture School Guide: Institute on Aging and Environment, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning

Courtesy of School of Architecture & Urban Planning Facebook Page

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.

AD Architecture School Guide: Carnegie Mellon University

The Gates Center for Computer Science, designed by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, on ’s west . Image © Timothy Hursley

At Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture, prospective students are likely to find a course of study that will interest them. The School’s newly revised undergraduate curriculum allows students to choose studios in their 4th and 5th year that concentrate on breadth or depth in the following topics of interest: Sustainable Design, Digital Design, Management and Critical Practice, Design/ Build, Urban Design, and Future Studios. For example, students interested in digital fabrication, computational design, and new materials may choose to concentrate in Digital Design.

AD Architecture School Guide: Tampere University of Technology

© Pekka Tynkkynen

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 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.

AD Architecture School Guide: The University of Hong Kong

Exhibition at Shanghai-Tongji, image via http://fac.arch.hku.hk/arch/gallery/2011-12/march-studios/stephen-lau/

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 situated at an international city and you have The University of Hong Kong.

Located on the island of , 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.

AD Architecture School Guide: The Berlage

Bridge Urban Life Typology Proposal for China, by Chen and Lu, via www.theberlage.nl

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 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.

AD Architecture School Guide: Portland State University School of Architecture

image via sageclassroom.com

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 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.

AD College Guide: InSB, Integrated School of Building

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.

UCLA’s cityLAB at the School of Architecture and Urban Design

Backyard Homes Conceptual Rendering, image courtesy Daly Genik Architects

What makes an architecture school worth consideration are its special programs and initiatives. These programs, often run by a few faculty members, vary from addressing human rights and legal issues to working with local communities to remedy social and economic issues.

’s Architecture and (AUD) school has just such a program. Called cityLAB (not to be confused with the student-run, science-based UCLA CityLab), it is in many ways unique to a university setting. Run by founder/director Professor Dana Cuff and co-directed by Professor Roger Sherman. It’s name is well-suited: a laboratory to test ideas and address issues arising from city conditions in ways that cannot be done by profit-driven firms. These issues include housing, commercial revitalization, and community and municipal collaboration. These projects have operated successfully on grants that support not just the work being done by the professors, but by staff and Graduate Student Researchers who are paid to work in all aspects of the projects.

AD Architecture School Guide: Birmingham City University’s BIAD

Hayes Bridge, image courtesy Kevin Singh

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 ( Institute of Art and Design), the program is structured precisely to help students achieve that balance.

AD Architecture School Guide: RMIT University

© Student projects, image via www.designresearch.rmit.edu.au

Opportunity. Challenge. Innovation. These words form the backbone of RMIT University (Melbourne Institute of Technology University) in Australia. Too often, architecture schools become enamored of the aesthetics in the field to the detriment of all else. Not so at RMIT. Here, the approach is an ideal combination of meaningful research with design solutions. The architecture program achieves this by teaching design skills based in their practical application and framed by social idealism and cross-disciplinary training.