University of Arizona
School of Architecture
The School of Architecture is devoted to professional education with a sensibility honed in the edge conditions of an extreme climate on a major international border. Located in the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the United States, the School combines a culturally rich past with cutting-edge environmental research in its place-based design approach to the arid environment.
Critical Practice: Relative to other schools in the United States, we claim the terrain of “critical practice,” meaning that we take more seriously the job of professional education and, beyond that, the training of young architects who will significantly contribute to the advancement of our discipline.
Extreme Climate Design: Using our own Sonoran Desert setting, we teach students to design to its extreme conditions; then, we teach them to extrapolate these skills to other climates. Although the architectural academy is aware of the threat that global climate change poses to civilization as we know it, relatively few schools teach both the leading sustainable principles while also stressing simple fundamental strategies, such as passive climate design, downsizing programs, and getting more architecture with fewer materials. Our setting offers the perfect opportunity to focus on radical climate; moreover, climatologists predict that arid climates will cover more of the globe, making our work increasingly relevant. Thus, our School values design that is highly climate responsive.
Sustainability: Because the construction and operation of the built environment is responsible for 48% of global greenhouse gas emissions, we are vigilant about first instilling an ethical orientation, i.e., the architect’s responsibility for transforming the built environment, and then teaching the technical and aesthetic lessons that support those ethics. Technology and strategies for sustainable will change; ethics should not. Thus, our School values professional ethics and sees it as an increasingly important trait in next-generation architects. We are the first B.Arch degree in the country to adopt a sustainability protocol integrated through all studios.
Hands-on Education: Because professionals make, rather than merely think about, the built environment, we have developed a hands-on pedagogy: learning by doing. From our innovate structures curriculum (in which students build-and-break components in order to develop an intuitive sense of building physics) to our design/build studios (in which students build furniture, shelters, and small buildings), our educational environment is analogous to the world of practice and construction. With one of the best Materials Labs is in the country, we are well equipped for this approach. Thus, our School values experiential, as well as intellectual, learning.
Settlement: Because density has a huge impact on carbon footprint, the design of settlement as well as individual building is a primary concern. Arizona’s population will double by 2040; our Sun Corridor, the developing metropolis between Tucson and Phoenix, is the second fastest growing of 11 mega-regions in the nation. Growth-related development of this magnitude, in a fragile desert ecology, will require a new, compact, and more conservation-oriented approach—not traditional sprawl. Our School casts its mission within the needs of our region and values public service.
The University of Arizona is located in Tucson, a sector of the Sonoran Desert and an arid region of strong cultural diversity and extraordinary natural grace. Tucson is a decentralized community with a metropolitan population of 850,000. The University of Arizona was founded in 1885, serves more than 36,000 students in 17 colleges, has 39 research and service divisions, and is ranked among the top twenty research universities in the nation.
The School of Architecture is devoted to critical practice education with a sustainable sensibility honed in the edge conditions of an extreme climate on a major international border. Located in the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the United States, the School combines a culturally rich past with cutting-edge environmental research to foster a place-based design approach. Our pedagogy is specifically grounded in four propositions: 1) The making of architecture is a sensible technical and aesthetic activity that serves the needs of human shelter. 2) The construction of shelter is an imaginative cultural research that enables dwelling as a fundamental human aspiration and means to a graceful life. 3) This pursuit must be inflected by Place, which we teach using the extreme conditions of Arizona's desert climate, stunning geography, and the culture of the Southwest as a laboratory. 4) Design for Place must be influenced by a portable global sensibility that also respects local traditions, is tempered by material circumstances, and becomes expressive of the ethos of time and place.
Bachelor of Architecture: The five-year professionally accredited Bachelor of Architecture is organized in a three-part sequence: foundation, core, and applied learning. The first foundation year introduces elementary principles and technical skills at the end of which students prepare a portfolio for admission to professional studies. In years 2 through 4.5 students develop a core of humanistic knowledge, creative ingenuity, technical craftsmanship, and professional abilities. The final application phase of three semesters allows students to work collaboratively in applied-learning studies, ranging from urban design to design/build projects, or in studies abroad. They also complete a concentration in one of several critical practice areas. The program ends with a comprehensive capstone project. The architecture curriculum is an ensemble of four parallel streams: technology, theory and history, design communications, and professional practices, the segments of which are integrated with the parallel studios. The curriculum is distributed in three pedagogical settings: studios, laboratories, and classrooms. The classroom is the forum of presentation and discussion of theoretical and factual knowledge in support of sensible design. The laboratory is the playhouse of empirical experimentation, testing and demonstration of virtual and real hypothesis of design. The architectural studio is the theater of imaginative propositions of design and synthesis of empirical fact and heuristic theory. Master of Architecture: The Master of Architecture is a professional degree with an emphasis on critical practice and sustainable design honed by the poetics of place. The program fosters the development of an architect who is both a scholar and a maker: the integration of passive and active building technologies, theory/history, digital fabrication, design communications, materials and fabrication, and practice methods. This rigorous and comprehensive curriculum provides graduates with the necessary skills to enter a diverse range of leadership positions in the field of architecture, design, and construction. At the core of the program is a carefully orchestrated series of studios and synthesized support topics that allow for the mastery of fundamentals and advanced processes with the experimentation required for critical practice. The 1-3.5 year course of study accommodates students with a non-design baccalaureate degree, an undergraduate studio-based architecture degree, or a Bachelor of Architecture degree. It culminates in a master's project, which includes future oriented research and the production of a comprehensive design project. The Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree is available via one of three curriculum tracks, according to the student's prior preparation. For each program, student's past work will be individually assessed and a personal curriculum developed to ensure success. Master of Science in Architecture: The Master of Science in Architecture (M.Arch.) is a post-professional research degree focused on traditional and experimental design in bioclimatic and cultural regionalism. A principal goal of this post-professional program is to expand the breadth of expertise available to architects and increase the range of job opportunities, across private, public, and academic arenas, for students who have already completed a basic professional degree. The ability to conduct research on the built environment and the specializations afforded by this degree distinguishes its graduates from their peers who may have only professional qualifications. Many students publish research findings or develop and execute funded research proposals as part of their course of study. With a flexible curriculum of approximately three semesters it allows students to pursue a prescribed curriculum in design and energy conservation or heritage conservation, or a personalized course of study. During the first semester students take a common foundation in research methods and an applied research studio, after which curricula vary by specialization. The degree culminates in a Master's Thesis that presents the findings of an original research project. Students in the Master of Science in Architecture have access to the House Energy Doctor's Environmental Science Laboratory that includes our unique twenty-eight foot, boundary layer, contraction-less wind tunnel; overcast sky simulator; portable climate stations; and other instruments used in the study of high performance buildings. The M.S. Arch. program has a strong interdisciplinary character and is available to candidates who have a Bachelor of Architecture or other professional degree.
1. Digital Fabrication & Technology
3. Sustainability & High Performance Build Enviroments
4. Building Technologies
5. Materials and Construction
6. Digital Design & Visualization
7. Cross-Cultural Contexts > Human Experiences