Things to Consider While Choosing Architecture Schools

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  1. Environmental Systems. Understanding of the basic principles that inform the design of environmental systems, including acoustics, lighting and climate modification systems, and energy use.

  2. Life-Safety Systems. Understanding of the basic principles that inform the design and selection of life-safety systems in buildings and their subsystems.

  3. Building Envelope Systems. Understanding of the basic principles that inform the design of building envelope systems.

  4. Building Service Systems. Understanding of the basic principles that inform the design of building service systems, including plumbing, electrical, vertical transportation, communication, security, and fire protection systems.

  5. Building Systems Integration. Ability to assess, select, and integrate structural systems, environmental systems, life-safety systems, building envelope systems, and building service systems into building design.

  6. Legal Responsibilities. Understanding of architects' legal responsibilities with respect to public health, safety, and welfare; property rights; zoning and subdivision ordinances; building codes; accessibility and other factors affecting building design, construction, and architecture practice.

  7. Building Code Compliance. Understanding of the codes, regulations, and standards applicable to a given site and

  8. building design, including occupancy classifications, allow-able building heights and areas, allowable construction types, separation requirements, occupancy requirements, means of egress, fire protection, and structure.

  9. Building Materials and Assemblies. Understanding of the principles, conventions, standards, applications, and restrictions pertaining to the manufacture and use of construction materials, components, and assemblies.

  10. Building Economics and Cost Control. Awareness of the fundamentals of development financing, building economics, and construction cost control within the framework of a design project.

  11. Detailed Design Development. Ability to assess, select, configure, and detail as an integral part of the design appropriate combination of building materials, components, and assemblies to satisfy the requirements of building programs.

  12. Technical Documentation. Ability to make technically precise descriptions and documentation of a proposed design for purposes of review and construction.

  13. Comprehensive Design. Ability to produce an architecture project informed by a comprehensive program, from schematic design through the detailed development of programmatic spaces, structural and environmental systems, life-safety provisions, wall sections, and building assemblies, as may be appropriate; and to assess the completed project with respect to the program's design criteria.

  14. Program Preparation. Ability to assemble a comprehensive program for an architecture project, including an assessment of client and user needs, a critical review of appropriate precedents, an inventory of space and equipment requirements, an analysis of site conditions, a review of the relevant laws and standards and an assessment of their implications for the project, and a definition of site selection and design assessment criteria.

  15. The Legal Context of Architecture Practice. Awareness of the evolving legal context within which architects practice, and of the laws pertaining to professional registration, professional service contracts, and the formation of design firms and related legal entities.

  16. Practice Organization and Management. Awareness of the basic principles of office organization, business planning, marketing, negotiation, financial management, and leader-ship, as they apply to the practice of architecture.

  17. Contracts and Documentation. Awareness of the different methods of project delivery, the corresponding forms of service contracts, and the types of documentation required to render competent and responsible professional service.

  18. Professional Internship. Understanding of the role of internship in professional development, and the reciprocal rights and responsibilities of interns and employers.

  19. Architects' Leadership Roles. Awareness of architects' leadership roles from project inception, design, and design development to contract administration, including the selection and coordination of allied disciplines, post-occupancy evaluation, and facility management.

  20. The Context of Architecture. Understanding of the shifts that occur-and have occurred-in the social, political, technological, ecological, and economic factors that shape the practice of architecture.

  21. Ethics and Professional Judgment. Awareness of the ethical issues involved in the formation of professional judgments in architecture design and practice.
Architectural programs vary from school to school. Some schools offer subjects in four-year courses leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.), with two additional years to earn a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.). Other schools offer a concentrated five-year course leading to a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.). A few schools offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in architecture degree earned after four years of formal courses. Depending on the content of the undergraduate courses, the master's degree could take as long as seven years. In all events, check each college's course information closely to be sure that you understand its content and length and know whether or not the school and its degrees are fully accredited by the NAAB. A degree from an accredited school of architecture is usually a requirement to be eligible for registration.

College admissions is a big business. Each year one to two mil-lion high school graduates apply for admission to our nation's colleges and universities. Some schools receive thousands of applications and can eventually enroll less than 10 percent of those who apply. You can get a head start on this process, and avoid many of the tensions associated with it, if you follow the suggestions we have discussed here while you are in secondary school and choosing your college architectural program. It is up to you to start the process and to keep it moving once it is under way.


Many of your experiences as a student in an architectural curriculum will be similar to those of college students in other curricula. However, there are a few unique experiences in an architectural program, and you will be interested to know of them and what they entail.

For instance, the laboratory course is common to the architectural curriculum. The architectural student's principal laboratory is the drafting room and the art studio for courses in composition and design, drawing and sketching, drafting and presentation, and painting and sculpture. All of these activities involve a great deal of experimentation in the materials and techniques of the visual arts and consume great chunks of a student's time.

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