The Greenway Group, yearly compilers of DesignIntelligence, released its 2012 list of top accredited architecture schools in the United States. The following list was created based on the rankings of past and present students, university deans and administrators, and successful private designers. This list takes into account many different aspects of architecture education, including planning, design, and the use of sustainable materials, in order to create an overall ranking of programs.
10. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
This program requires five years of study to earn an accredited Bachelor of Architecture degree. Students at the Pratt Institute take the majority of their core classes in the first three years, leaving the final two years for liberal arts electives designed to assist students in choosing a personalized design goal. Possible professional goals include studying historic preservation, building technology, or urban design. The fifth year is spent working on an in-depth design study and research project to be presented to academic critics.
9. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
The Bachelor of Architecture degree at Iowa State requires five years of study, comprised of one year in the College of Design’s Core Design program and four years in the BArch degree program. It is an extremely selective program, only admitting 78 students per year, but graduates can boast of completing architecture school, working as an intern-architect, and passing a comprehensive exam.
7. (tie) Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Students at Syracuse University spend their first four years working on visual and architectural design training combined with technical design, art history, and theory. These courses are based on a unique core design studio sequence that includes a celebrated lecture series and exhibits by established architects. In the fifth year of the Bachelor of Architecture program, students research and incorporate their ideas into a personal design project for criticism by professors and successful private architects.
7. (tie) Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles, California
SCI-Arc’s 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree focuses on a holistic approach to becoming a contemporary architect. Students are encouraged to explore their personal growth through self-reflection and theoretical experimentation with technology and materials to create sustainable structures. SCI-Arc combines design studios with classes in history, theory, media, and technology to effectively prepare its architects for the workforce.
6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Unlike most universities, the Rhode Island School of Design is an art school that focuses students’ studies on artistic sensibility, special understanding, critical visual thinking, and imagination. The program emphasizes the students’ creative processes and the need to find a design passion, all while interweaving some theory and art history during its 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree.
5. Rice University, Houston, Texas
Rice boasts of having the smallest professional degree program, only 24 admitted each year, within a top research university. Students spend the first two years in studio and other elective classes before the third year, in which students travel to global cities as part of their studios. The fourth year students begin a design research project, and the fifth year consists of students’ placements at prestigious worldwide architecture firms. The final year of this 6-year Bachelor of Architecture program sees students in graduate-level studios or study abroad programs.
4. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
The Bachelor of Architecture degree at Cal Poly is based on the French polytechnic tradition that combines art and science to create an interdisciplinary curriculum and well-rounded graduates. Students in this program represent some of the most diverse cultural backgrounds in one of the largest architectural programs in the country. The 5 years in the program begin with designing and experimenting in a studio and computer lab and end with an independent thesis project created by individual students.
3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
First year architecture students study in design studios with all the first year students of industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture before beginning design theory and process in the second and third years. In the fourth year, Bachelor of Architecture students have the option to work in an Extern Program or to study abroad before the fifth year advanced independent study module. Students in that final year work closely with a faculty member to complete a cumulative project.
2. University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Students at the University of Texas can complete a Bachelor of Architecture degree in a rigorous, design-oriented 5-year program. Studio courses focus on architecture in society, construction principles, and architectural history. In the spring of the third year, students complete a design portfolio of all their work in order to be admitted to the advanced design studios. The final two years in advanced studios allow students to have flexibility and focus on topics important to them individually. Study abroad and professional residency placement are also options for students completing their degrees.
1. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
This one-of-a-kind Ivy League program balances theory, art history, and technology in the 5 years it takes to complete the Bachelor of Architecture degree. Design studios help students develop problem-solving skills through conceptual designs, solid models, and computer-generated graphics. Drawing courses and structural exploration make up the rest of the curriculum. Cornell students typically study in Rome and New York City for an average of one semester each before their graduations.
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