This published article suggests practical solutions to retooling architectural education and the profession.
Revamping Architectural Education: Ethics, Social Service, and Innovation
This paper explores architectural education within North America, Europe, and, briefly, in primarily former
British colonies (originally involved with the RIBA and now the Commonwealth Association of Architects),
while investigating contemporary calls for a restructuring of existing curricula in response to current
unemployment statistics and perceived poor employment experience in the field of conventional commercial
architecture for our youth. A focus on ethics (both personal and professional) and innovative
teaching/research methodologies, in conjunction with expanded service venues, is espoused under the
umbrella of a DArch (Doctor of Architecture), with a concentration on design and development rather than
history, and an emphasis on a pan-disciplinary, social-service internship approach using live projects. The
paper then advocates a radical suggestion to transform the three-year MArch and its various equivalents
(e.g. the British Diploma/Part II and III) into an Architecture Doctorate (taught DArch), both retroactively
and into the future, along the lines of what lawyers have done in transforming their LLM’s into JD’s (at the
international level and retroactively), setting the groundwork for implementation building on progressive
models. Variations on the theme include translating the British Part II into a MPhil in Environmental Design
and the North American BArch into a MArch.
Various existing architectural programmes are compared and contrasted, and existing service-learning
paradigms (Yale, Rural Studio, U Sheffield, Cranbrook, Stanford, to list a few) are explored and analysed in
conjunction with visits to design schools and interviews with staff and students. Criticisms of current
methods of architectural education are investigated and various alternatives purporting to meet these
inadequacies are considered; in investigating current styles of architectural education the study aims both to
identify failures and elaborate on cutting-edge prototypes, evaluating them against expectations.
Innovations in design education are assessed against their intentions. In particular, their proposed remedies
to issues identified by activists such as Thomas Fisher and ArchVoices.org as the ‘maltreatment of our
youth’ or by Garry Stevens as exclusiveness and concomitant lack of employment (often due to lack of
experience and/or unbalanced geographic distribution) are appraised. Other concerns which the author
believes can be addressed productively through a ‘service-based teaching model’ include inadequate
remuneration for professional services rendered (relative to other professions), ostensible over-abundance or
concentration of design professionals in urban areas, lack of client design appreciation and government
regulation, and women leaving the profession (gender imbalance). Conclusions are supported by data
collected from survey sheets and interviews (with other design professionals, social service ‘clients’,
teachers, project managers, deans, students, and recent graduates) presenting results of the architectural
‘teaching hospital’ or ‘internship as part of academe’ model. Pertinent examples are located through web
search, professional and academic literature, and word of mouth. The author’s parallel experience with
service-based teaching provides further background for this research, and dialogues with intern participants
affording follow-up. Finally, a list of desired improvements to existing design education methodology is
defined, with the argument of the paper building on the sample of programmes and individuals surveyed.
(Original copy can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/132956287394952.)
Scholarly article (published by IJAS 2010).
Marga Jann with input from Alan Short (U Cambridge Dept of Architecture)