THE TOP 10 SCHOOLS
1. HARVARD UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.;Graduate School of Design
Interim Dean: Alan Altshuler
Dean: Mohsen Mostafavi (incoming)
Chair, Department of Architecture: Toshiko Mori
Prominent Alumni: Harry Cobb, Philip Johnson, Thom Mayne, I.M. Pei
The Campus: Gund Hall is famous for its five “trays” of studio space stacked under a (reportedly leaky) glass roof. The school's cafe is called—what else?—the Chauhaus.
2. MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.;Department of Architecture; School of Architecture + Planning
Dean: Adèle Naudé Santos
Bragging Rights: Having the renowned Media Lab as a resource gives MIT a clear advantage.
Stay Tuned: Yung Ho Chang, head of the department of architectural design, promises “exciting expansion and curriculum development” in the near future.
3. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, N.Y.;Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Dean: Mark Wigley
Prominent Alums: Peter Eisenman, Antoine Predock, Joseph Rosa
Website Buzzwords: “biodiversity,” “digital fabrication”
Bragging Rights: On GSAPP's website, Wigley bluntly states that Columbia students are expected to work while the rest of the world sleeps.
3. CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA, N.Y.; College of Architecture, Art & Planning
Dean: Mohsen Mostafavi (outgoing)
Prominent Alums: Nathaniel Owings, Lawrence Perkins
The Campus: A new building by Rem Koolhaas' OMA is expected to break ground, amid controversy, in 2008.
5. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS, ST. LOUIS, MO.;Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design; Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Dean: Bruce Lindsey
Prominent Alums: George Hellmuth, Gyo Obata
Bragging Rights: Graduate student and Archinect blogger Andrea Michalski says the school doesn't have a single approach, but rather “pull[s] design out of each student.”
5. VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND STATE UNIVERSITY, BLACKSBURG, VA.;School of Architecture + Design; College of Architecture & Urban Studies
Director: Scott Poole
Bragging Rights: Graduate architecture students have recently worked on interdisciplinary projects including, with the veterinary school, a mobile lab for a jungle in Tanzania.
7. UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI, CINCINNATI, OHIO; College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Interim Dean: Robert Probst
Bragging Rights: Like their undergraduate counterparts, UC's grad students use the co-op program to gain real-world experience—and often income as well. Archinect blogger Christopher Davis notes that “the master's program lacks a specific focus,” but the school's diverse faculty can be an asset to students with self-direction.
8. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ANN ARBOR, MICH.;A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning
Dean: Douglas Kelbaugh
Prominent Alums: Charles Correa, John Dinkeloo, Charles Moore, Ralph Rapson, John Ronan
Bragging Rights: Michigan has long used its proximity to Detroit's manufacturing base as a reason to stress hands-on, physical design. “We have the biggest high-bay research space of any architecture school in the country,” Kelbaugh says. A planned rooftop addition by Seattle firm Miller/Hull is another nod to pragmatism. “We want a tough addition that we can muck around in, rather than some signature statement,” Kelbaugh explains.
8. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, BERKELEY, CALIF.;Department of Architecture
Chair: Mary Comerio
Prominent Alums: Hans Hollein, Lars Lerup, Julia Morgan, Eric Owen Moss, Stanley Saitowitz, Marilyn Taylor, Allison Williams
Bragging Rights: Two things set UC Berkeley apart, according to Comerio. First is the school's pioneering Ph.D. program—the first of its kind within the profession. “We invented building science research,” Comerio says. Second is the school's embrace of global culture. Recent studios have traveled to India, China, and Latin America. “Our students are not myopically focused on their own backyards.”
10. CLEMSON UNIVERSITY, CLEMSON, S.C.;School of Architecture
Chair: Ted Cavanagh
Prominent Alum: James F. Barker (president of Clemson)
Bragging Rights: Clemson's 50-year-old program is best seen through the lens of its “fluid campus,” which unites facilities and curricula across four locations: Clemson; Charleston, S.C.; Barcelona; and Genoa. Students abroad are more than tourists: They live in and design for each locale, says Cavanagh.
10. RICE UNIVERSITY, HOUSTON, TEXAS;School of Architecture
Dean: Lars Lerup
Prominent Alum: Fay Jones
The Campus: Rice's School of Architecture is housed in Anderson Hall, a 1947 building with a James Stirling–designed postmodern addition. Architecture has been taught at Rice since the university's first class in 1912.
10. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, AUSTIN, TEXAS;School of Architecture
Dean: Frederick Steiner
The Campus: The school's newest resource is its own botanical garden: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, designed by an alum. It supplements facilities that Steiner describes as “the most remarkable suite of buildings of any school of architecture”—two Cass Gilbert classics and a slightly later structure by Paul Philippe Cret.
James F. Barker
President, Clemson University
James F. Barker is leading a double life. An architect by trade, Barker became the 14th president of Clemson University in October 1999, after serving for four years as the dean of the architecture school. It's certainly a boost to that school to have an architect running Clemson—but what's more, Barker says, it's a great asset for a university president to have a background in architecture. “My graduate school experience, my practice and licensing turned out to be wonderful preparation for academia,” he says. “In architecture school, you're taught everything from poetry to plumbing, and that breadth has served me very well.”
After earning a B.Arch. degree from Clemson and a Master of Architecture/Master of Urban Design from Washington University in St. Louis, Barker opened his own practice in Mississippi in 1977 and began teaching at Mississippi State University. He returned to Clemson in 1995 as the dean of the architecture school and helped with a revamp of the university's organization, which streamlined the schools of study into larger colleges of collaborative education. After these mergers took effect, he presided over the newly formed College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.
The new setup means a broader recognition of architecture campuswide. Today at Clemson, “because of the partnership with the humanities and the arts, architecture is no longer on the fringe,” Barker says. “It gives a confidence to the students that they can serve in roles at the core of our society.”
And other disciplines can borrow from the architectural approach. “[The architecture faculty] would talk about how great the studio experience is. We wondered why other parts of the university weren't adopting it,” he recalls. But now, he says, “Other departments, like English, are structuring themselves in this way. It really is great for teaching critical thinking and creativity.”
--Elizabeth A. Evitts