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.
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.
UCLA's Architecture and Urban Design (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.
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.
When people think architecture school they think of training that teaches them how to make things: build spaces or develop sites for, primarily, human use. Over the years, this concept has expanded to encompass social activism. In the States, for example, there are programs like Architecture for Humanity, Project Row Houses, and Make It Right that address issues of poverty, displacement, and housing. Human Rights, however, extends beyond creating spaces for the economically disadvantages or impoverished. In fact, the term Human Rights often conjures up people’s rights within the context of conflict. Most people, however, do not think of architecture as encompassing the lack or destruction of structures. Read about the Forensic Architecture program at the U. of London after the break
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.