Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Philosophy and Approach

I am exploring MArch programs. On a number of web sites that discuss how to assess program fit I have seen the suggestion to pay attention to a school's philosophy or approach to architectural thought. But - somewhat cryptically - I haven't been able to find a breakdown of what the various key philosophies and approaches are, pros and cons of each, and how to identify or look for them when reading through a school's program description or website.
I'm wondering if you might help: are there in fact different schools of thought on how to approach architectural education, training and process? Do these show up in program curricula? How does one identify what approach a program takes and the pros and cons of being schooled in each different approach - both creatively and from a career perspective? Are there certain schools that are known for using specific approaches (i.e., in MBA programs, Harvard is uniquely known for using the case method - any parallels in the world of architecture?)?


As a prospective architecture student, you bring up good questions and I applaud your researching these aspects of an architectural education and using them as criteria to select your program. Unfortunately, the only true way to research a program's philosophy is to ask -- via a phone call to the program director or other key administrator. Of course, you may learn some of what you are seeking from the program's website, but it probably takes a conversation. Below are resources on architectural education and the architectural programs.



Although all architecture programs must meet the NAAB criteria, programs are different. NAAB tells programs what to teach but not how to teach. For this reason, programs teach architecture differently. Their differences come from their institutional context -- what academic unit are they located, the degrees they offer, their physical location (urban vs. rural), faculty, tradition, etc. As you will discover, some programs emphasize the theory of architecture, others emphasize the technical side. You have to determine which is the best fit for you. Your best approach is to talk with lots of people in the profession -- architects, students, faculty, others. Bottom line, just be sure that the program you enter is accredited and you will be able to eventually sit for the ARE - Architect Registration Exam. What you want in a program is truly up to you. What makes you most comfortable?

Dr. Architecture

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