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So I've just completed my undergrad from India and am currently interning. I'm considering applying to Graduate school (M.Arch II) this December in the States and am in college research mode at the moment. My specific interest lies in culture/context/heritage and its bearing on contemporary urban architecture - the response and integration of modern design to culturally rich urban fabrics. Its something i started exploring in my studio projects and dissertation and wish to pursue further at design school. Although I have little exposure to digital fabrication, I'm curious of its potential in relation with my topics of interest. My grades have been pretty good up until now (topped all five years of design school, scholarships, awards etc.therefore a pretty decent resume) but i do realize that it plays a small part in the process.
The plan is to apply to about eight schools - about five 'good' ones and two-three 'safety' schools. As of now I've looked at:
Columbia GSAPP - Interesting course structure, the chance to live in NYC, Studio X, but maybe a little too much emphasis on digital architecture?
Cornell: Their architecture + ecology program appears to be in tune with my interests, as does the work of some of their faculty, the chance to travel/study abroad
UPenn: A very exciting dual degree in Architecture and Landscape but again unsure of the focus on digital design
Michigan Taubman: Individually directed course of study and the opportunity to travel
I'm also planning on looking at RISD, Pratt, Arizona State, UCLA/USC/Berkeley, Virginia Tech, Rice.
I'm going to be taking a few months off in autumn to work on my applications. NAAB accreditation is vital, and I've saved up to finance about half my tuition and would be taking a student loan to finance the rest. It would be great to get recommendations for courses and colleges, advice and info on the ones I'm planning to apply to and maybe some I've overlooked?