Environment-focused degrees are nothing new. It’s been all the rage. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting nearly every industry hard, sustainability has become a global concern and many are feeling inspired to get involved. A great start is by getting a degree in sustainable architecture.
Inspiration can be found in the news. CO2 levels are breaking records. The past decade has been hotter than ever. In the last three decades, the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest. In the US alone, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption. On a global scale, buildings and their construction account for 36% of the world’s annual energy usage and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
To undo years of damage, today and tomorrow’s architects need to be skilled in not only creating designs that excel in form and function –– they must also be able to come up with integrated solutions that take environmental factors into account. In order to do so, aspirants need to be equipped with the right education that teaches the fundamentals of building in a way that exceeds the confines of functionality and aesthetic superiority.
Here are four universities where aspiring architects can gain the knowledge, skills and experience to build a greener future:
Kent State University
Ranked among the world’s top 100 best graduate education schools. 166 active US patents for research. 16 Pulitzer Prize winners. Over 70% of the faculty have the highest degree in their field. These accolades — and more — prove Kent State University’s ability to inspire achievement across its eight-campus system.
Here, over 38,000 students from 98 countries are becoming agents of change.
At the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, programmes prepare graduates to lead in a rapidly evolving world –– specifically in professions that relate to the design and construction of the built environment. If you’re interested in enhancing your surroundings, improving quality of life for millions, and safeguarding public welfare, your place is at this college — where advanced tools, techniques, co-curricular activities, and experiential learning abound.
The Master of Architecture — accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board — develops technical skills, professional knowledge and design creativity through exploration and project-based learning. Comprehensive research, distinguished faculty, a rigorous curriculum and travel study opportunities — plus an ambitious series of co-curricular lectures, exhibitions, symposia and workshops — set this programme apart from the rest.
In addition to the standalone Master of Architecture the college offers two multidisciplinary, dual degree pathways for aspiring architects seeking leadership roles or advanced specialisation. The Master of Architecture plus Master of Business Administration adds an additional accreditation by the prestigious AACSB. This route provides a complementary, in-depth broadening of expertise in the fundamentals of both professional fields.
For those interested in addressing urban design issues, the Master of Architecture plus Master of Urban Design is a better fit. This programme — co-located with the Master of Landscape Architecture programme and Kent State’s own Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative in downtown Cleveland — explores both North American and international approaches to global issues through studios that engage the built environment and travel study opportunities. The Index Studio — that includes comparative design interventions in Cleveland and another international city — takes students to locations such as Havana, Beirut, and Medellin. Additionally, field studies in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto Boston, Washington DC are typically offered throughout.
Kent, known as “Tree City,” is located centrally in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton-Youngstown metro — offering the best of both worlds: small college-town comforts and charm fused with access to big-city amenities. Interested? Learn more and take your pick here.
Thomas Jefferson University
At Jefferson, building a sustainable future is emphasised across programmes, as is the importance of combating climate change. Source: Thomas Jefferson University
At Jefferson’s College of Architecture and the Built Environment, a new generation of leaders are being nurtured by future-focused guiding principles: sustainability, innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, social and ethical responsibility, stewardship, design excellence, global perspective, and cultural diversity. These principles create leaders equipped to design and construct in a way that combats challenges while promoting the betterment of its health – a focus emphasised across every programme. The MS in Historic Preservation takes things a step further.
The programme touches on far more than just preserving our earth’s existing wonders. It encompases the re-envisioning and repurposing of what can be used to ensure future needs are met. In-depth analysis through historical research and graphic documentation moulds the curriculum as a whole.
Exposure, awareness, and rigour train students to assess the condition and evolution of buildings; promote new ways of ordering urban fabric; contribute to healthy communities; and facilitate “place-making” as a catalyst for community revitalisation.
Case studies on campus and around Philadelphia – old stomping grounds for notable architects Louis Kahn and Richard Noiture – bring the programme to life. Philadelphia – a city known for being the first UNESCO world heritage site in the US, and a hub for modern architecture in the 50’s – make the ideal living laboratory for Jefferson students.
What’s more, the university’s new Centre for the Preservation of Modernism allows aspirants to develop protocols tailored to the distinct characteristics of early and mid-century modern architecture. International exposure is also a key feature as students are given the chance to study the conservation of modernist architecture at the iconic Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany or at the Terragni archive in Como, Italy. To learn more about how the MS in Historic Preservation will help you acquire the knowledge and skills to address the challenges facing preservation today, click here.
Alongside this, the Master of Architecture is a STEM-designated programme designed to prepare students for the new challenges of architectural practice. Through the development of technology and design skills, knowledge of project management and collaborative experiences, students are prepared to be leading practitioners in this complex world. Its convenient location in Philadelphia also provides opportunities for experiences with industry partners.
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Innovative, experimental, radical – student projects at this top 10 architecture school are anything but dull. Source: Southern California Institute of Architecture
Innovative, experimental, radical – student projects at this Top 10 architecture school are anything but dull. From “The Perfect Boyfriend Builder 4.0” to the “genesis of new artificial terrains,” graduating M.Arch 1 and M.Arch 2 students presented new perspectives in architecture and design in recent exhibitions. They were displays of the strategic skill sets SCI-Arc has equipped them with, and a sign of all the potential they are set to harness from the applied research and cross-disciplinary experience gained here.
“In terms of aspiration, what we at SCI-Arc want the thesis to be is an absolutely vital first step towards a professional life; that’s the best that it has to offer as a pedagogical, academic, and professional tool. Another important aspect of the thesis is not only each individual finding their voice, but also providing a place for all voices in the school to be expressed,” explains SCI-Arc Director Hernán Daz Alonso.
Offering undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programmes, SCI-Arc is strategically housed in the historic Santa Fe Freight Depot located in the Arts District of Los Angeles. Surrounding it are architectural landmarks such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chinatown and the Mayan Theater; on campus, it’s an integrated suite of resources that support academic progress and experimentation.
“Since it first opened in 1972, SCI-Arc has been relentlessly expanding and raising its ambitions. Now is not the time to ease off the gas pedal and relax,” shares Hernán Díaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director/CEO. “Rather, now is the time to accelerate. The scope of what SCI-Arc represents and offers to the world should keep multiplying. In our globalised era, design matters like never before, and we have the capacity to astonish the world by showing it all the different ways in which design can transform it.”
The University of Texas at Austin
The school itself provides surroundings that inspire. It is housed in four adjacent historic buildings at the heart of the campus: Battle Hall, Sutton Hall, Goldsmith Hall, and the West Mall Office Building. Source: The University of Texas at Austin
Ranked among the biggest and best research universities in the country, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is home to a large connected community of over 51,000 students and 3,000 educators. Here, the aim is to provide students opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research while enjoying cutting-edge teaching and learning techniques.
At the School of Architecture, where over 500 students are flourishing, the theme persists. Founded in 1909, it has built a reputation as one of the most distinguished schools of architecture in the country. In fact, the 2016-17 DesignIntelligence survey ranked UTSOA sixth for its Bachelor of Architecture Programme and 12th for its Master of Architecture degree programme.
The school itself provides surroundings that inspire. It is housed in four adjacent historic buildings at the heart of the campus: Battle Hall; Sutton Hall, designed by the American architect Cass Gilbert; Goldsmith Hall, designed by the French architect Paul Philippe Cret; and the West Mall Office Building, built by the Texas firm Jessen, Jessen, Millhouse, and Greeven. Within their walls is convenient access to literature, information, visual, and digital resources that support the development of additional expertise in the field of architecture.
An offering that stands out is its Graduate Programme in Sustainable Design, which is interdisciplinary and research-based. For this degree path, scholars are both part of a specialized, close-knit cohort of MSSD students as well as members of the larger Architecture programme and UT Austin campus community. They can draw from the sizeable and wide-ranging knowledge of faculty within the school and across the university. Facilities and laboratories allow for sustainable design research at various scales and scopes to complement students’ academic experience.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International