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.
The economy is an issue on everyone’s mind and has been since the Crash of 2008. People around the world are cognizant of global issues precisely because we have all finally realized that nations do not and cannot behave as independent economic entities. The multiple economic crises reverberate through economies on all continents.
Given this situation, professionals in the architecture field—practitioners, teachers, and writers—have each tried to address the subject in meaningful ways that acknowledge the hardships while reassuring their colleagues and potential students that, eventually, things will be alright.
If there is one characteristic that defines “architecture” it is innovation. And if by innovative, you think responsive, then Domus Academy certainly qualifies. It was started by Maria Grazia Mazzocchi, daughter of Domus Magazine founder, Gianni Mazzocchi after people kept writing letters asking her to start a design school. And in 1983, she did just that.
For the basics, the school is very clear. Your accreditation comes from an affiliation with the University of Wales, in Cardiff, UK, which is awarded upon completing 180 Master’s level credits. And you also receive a Diploma Supplement from them which proves that you have a degree that is equivalent to major universities across the globe. And it’s sited in Milan, which if one is interested in Italian design, is an ideal locale. It’s a one year program, so it doesn’t require the extensive 2- and 3-year commitments that many programs across the world demand. It will cost a similar amount, however, at €23,790 Euro. But the best aspect of that admittedly large tuition fee is that it is for a single year—11 months to be exact. That means one can immediately begin searching for a job to pay off what is, after all is said and done, a relatively small student loan compared to average ones that are three times that size. There are also unrestricted scholarships available that defray costs from between 20%-50%. And in case you’re wondering, classes are taught in English.
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There’s a new program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Situated in the south campus designed by Kevin Daly of Daly/Genik, the Media Design Practices program is a newly minted program that is an exciting new approach to design.
Why you may ask has the ArchDaily College Guide decided to examine a media program when its focus is architecture schools around the world? Simple. Because this is an innovative program that will impart new skills, enhance the ones you have, and help you find a job to boot. All of this can happen regardless of your undergraduate degree.
Read our full review after the break
Architecture schools ideally combines practical, intellectual, and theoretical skills which center on the production of physical projects. The key is to find programs that are able to provide a judicious cross-section of disciplines to develop one’s critical and practical abilities. That is done either within the design program itself, or by providing access to other colleges and school campuses.
The University of Tennessee Knoxville is just such a school. It’s College of Architecture + Design or CoAD has three distinct programs that include the School of Architecture, the Interior Design Program, and the Landscape Architecture Program. Clearly, this program offers students a wide range of design coursework, which is complemented by access to courses in UTK’s colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences.
Read our CoAD profile after the break
AD College Guide: Centre for Architecture and Human Rights / King Mongkut’s University of Technology
Intervention in Human Rights has, until now, had very few models in the architecture profession. There are the non-profit organizations and NGO’s. They often focus on structures and spaces that have been decimated by natural disasters or military conflict. Then there is the Forensic Architecture approach which seeks to document exactly what people have undergone in those circumstances. Most architecture activists, however, fall into the first category, focusing on building or re-building.
While these models are very useful, they contain some inherent problems. One is that many of these organizations have predetermined agendas that dictate their intervention. Part of this is driven by the funding cycle: donors are not always inspired by the thought of funding a pig farm, but the idea of a new school designed by a famous architect makes an attractive selling point for new and continuing donors. Too often, however, that results in projects that are disconnected from the actual needs of local populations. Unneeded buildings are a waste of resources, time, money, and labor.
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AD Architecture School Guide: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute
What makes a good architecture school? Clearly there is no single factor that comprises a good, or even a great, architecture school. Different aspects are important to different people. Students often cite access to well-known faculty members—otherwise known as “starchitects”—as an important feature. Professors and instructors mention their school’s outreach programs, pioneering studios, technologically innovative labs, and exchange programs. All of these are valid and important.
Of course, these factors must be weighed against practical considerations that include tuition, the cost of housing, and other expenses. Why? Because in Western Europe and North America, tuition can be measured in the tens of thousands. What’s more, in the U.S., student loans aren’t forgivable which means your survivors can inherit up to US $90,000 worth of debt. And if the current economy has taught us one thing, it is that it’s cyclic.
So before investing all that money, it’s important to determine how a school will help you succeed. What are the practical and critical skills the school’s curriculum will impart to ensure a) your professional success, and b) your personal success (that means your overall quality of life). Because upon graduation, the goal is to gain skills to support yourself well while doing what you enjoy.
Read our CASE profile after the break