hi want to know how is the march/mfa program in media architecture and computing in suny buffalo


hi friends  i did my civil engineering and is thinking of architecture as masters and  want to know how good is the program at suny buffalo  ,their research focuses and are they really good in computation. i m asking this because suny is not in any ranking ,and m bit hesitant about the degree it will offer 

expecting comments 

is any one on archinect has done this program before or is currently pursuing ,???

Mar 1, 13 9:59 am

True, SUNY Buffalo is sort of a forgotten entity for architecture, being far from growing urban centers and being public in a region of the country that values prestigious pedigrees.  It's the only public accredited arch. school in the state of NY.  I hear it's a decent enough school and it probably trained many of western NY's architects.  (I don't know where Syracuse grads tend to go).  I had a friend who went there for one year and then ended up at my school.  She said the camaraderie in her class was great, and much less so at our school.  Can you visit, or talk to practitioners to see how they view it?

I suspect it has a regional reputation, as many not highly ranked a-schools do.  One program that looked decent to me was Univ. of Maryland College Park (essentially next to DC), but it didn't appear in the rankings and I was told it is viewed as a good school in that general area.  Since I would not want to live in DC, or even near it, I didn't apply.

Mar 1, 13 8:04 pm

hey what about the dual degree program m arch /mfa in suny buffalo 

Mar 1, 13 10:23 pm

First, I'd recommend you read through the Center for Architecture and Situated Technologies (CAST) website,  The dual degree is most closely associated with this research group.  I didn't do the dual degree myself, but I did graduate from the masters program here.  I'll try to answer anything I can.  Feel free to send me a message.  

With respects to computing, I'd ask what specifically you are interested in.  I'm fully confident in saying, "good in computing," yes, absolutely.  Some of things that fall under the umbrella of computing can be learned at almost and architecture school at this point (parametric design for example), but you might be harder pressed at other schools to find people using arduino boards and programming in python as part of a design studio.  (That's not to say it doesn't happen anywhere else, it most certainly does)

I don't want to digress into the value of rankings, but it is just one metric for evaluating a school.  If you're concern is about the education itself, about attaining a license, you might compare the pass rates for the Architect Registration Examination by school on the NCARB website.  If it is about broader name recognition, you might want to ask about their new dual degree exchange with Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.

The point should be to find a program that aligns with your goals and interests.  I can't tell you that SUNY Buffalo is going to be that program for you without knowing more about what you want to get out of it.  It might be perfect for you, it might not.  You've posted in the past asking about a dual degree with urban planning, industrial design, & structural engineering, so I really want to stress the importance of knowing what you want to gain from furthering your education.

I'd suggest a visit, particularly May 3-5 if you can swing it.  the MediaCity conference ( will be at here rather than at the Bauhaus.  You'd know for sure by the end, if this is the something you're interested in or not.

Mar 1, 13 10:55 pm

but I did graduate from the masters program here.

Joseph, did you enjoy it?  My friend did, but her reasons for transferring out were family related, and she was happy there.  Within the M.Arch., what are its strong points?  What is its urban laboratory:  Buffalo or Rochester .... or even Toronto?  Do people road trip to Toronto a lot?  (It would be great to Toronto nearby, and being close to Niagara Falls would be fascinating, and I was more impressed than I would have imagined).  Where do its grads tend to go after graduating?

I always think of that bulky FLW house and/or Louis Sullivan (?) taller industrial type building, IIR, in Buffalo's urban core.

Mar 1, 13 11:03 pm

I tried to remain a bit more objective for the OP benefit.  

As for my own experience, I enjoyed it a lot.  I actually went back today for freshman reviews, so in some way, I'm still enjoying it..  The masters program is incredibly broad given it's research group structure, which is quite unique.  There is a specialized focus in four particular research groups; material culture, inclusive design, situated technologies, and ecological practices.  Given the range, I'd say that students have an easy time finding their own niche, and finding electives that peak their personal interests.

As far as strong points, I can only comment on my own experience.  I did the 4+2 program, a B.S. in Arch, followed by the 2 year MArch.  The B.S. had more of a technical strength, with high emphasis on design studio, while the Masters was more of a theoretical venture.  This is in part from my own choice of courses, but also partly due to the program structure.  Given the 3.5 year trek, it is much more balanced between the three, and is quite well rounded in most cases.  The undergrad and graduate classes for core classes are mixed, with additional coursework for graduate level.  There are enough electives that the ratio can be more tailored to the individual.

Something that is particularly great is the shop.  I didn't truly appreciate it until I visited other schools, and saw how tiny, and ill-fitted their shops were.  7000 sq. ft. is nothing to ignore.  Being able to do full scale fabrications, CnC plasma cutting and routing, welding, etc. isn't something that every school has the space for, and made for a staple project in my portfolio.  The schools lecture series always has some great highlights (I'm extremely excited for Atelier Bow-Wow this month) and the Fellowship and Chair positions have brought in fantastic people to work with students (the list is too long, but if I told you Lebbeous Woods was the McHale Fellow and Peter Zumthor was the Clarkson Chair in the same calender year, would I peak your curiosity?).

There have been a number of studios dealing with local cities (Toronto, Ohio, Rochester, etc.), both as project sites and for visiting case studies.  I spent a year with the situated tech. research group, and we did a design charrette at the University of Waterloo, with Philip Beesley and Rachel Armstrong, for example.

Most graduates remain in the Northeast US (many in NYC).  I know a few that have gone south, and a few moving west.  It is very much the case that it has a regional reputation, as you suggested, but I wouldn't say that it is at all limiting.  There have been graduates in corporate firms, and boutique firms, from the internationally known to the unknown.   In all I'd say it is a very solid program.  I had a job lined up before graduating, which is more than most people can say in this economy.  I learned a lot, felt well prepared, and would recommend the program.  

There is a rich architectural heritage in Buffalo itself, from the FLW buildings (martin house, gray cliff, blue sky mausoleum, and boat house..  Falling Water is a common weekend trip for students too) and Sullivan's Guaranty/Prudential building.  There's also Kleinhans Music Hall, which is arguably one of the top concert halls in the country, and one of the few projects that Eliel and Eero Saarinen worked on together.  And, of course, Grain Elevators.

Mar 2, 13 3:05 am

hey actually i m intrested to work at the intersection of maths and architecture ,i m intrsted in computationally creation of form rather then relying on intution,i want to design a process    whose parameters can be altered to generate diffrent form .i believe that math will help me to ge the most optimized design ,thereby creatiing a balance between aesthetics and functionality .i dont know what this is called ,but realy intrested to know what actually i m intrested in 

also what do we get to learn in mfa program???

Mar 2, 13 7:31 am

I was really hoping someone who was more engaged in the MFA would jump in, but I think the best resource you'll find right now, as to what you'd be learning, is some of the past course descriptions, found here (

The description of your interests (at least at this point) sound very much like the type of parametric modelling that you can get at almost any architecture school.  I think you'd benefit from with this dual degree, by expanding the way that you think about these processes, and the types of input and output parameters you can use.  So a basic example might be to have sensors evaluating light and temperature of a space, and actuators that control shading.  Then we might get into something a little more spatially dynamic, like the Open Column project ( where spatial arrangements and circulation are altered by the number of people in the space (Co2 sensors determine whether a column extends into a space or retracts).  But my favorite example of possibilities, is Hylozoic Ground (

These examples are still very specific to space, but the projects aren't always going to be spatial.  Media is a broad topic in itself, whether its auditory or visual, you're ultimately dealing with perceptions that don't require a physical space to be altered.  Students have been just as likely to design apps, clothes, games, garbage collectors, and an assortment of trinkets, as they are to design something infrastructural on either the building or city scale.  Tinkering is encouraged.

I took one of the classes geared towards the dual degree.  Some of the readings that stuck with me, and carried into my thinking in other classes came from Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, and of course Michel Foucault.  I'd recommend reading Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and Debord's The Society of The Spectacle.  Their both fairly short, and might introduce a few ideas that that are relevant to Media Architecture.

To be a bit more pointed, you can learn about putting together proper circuits with sensors and actuators, programming (probably in a few different languages if you're inclined), different ways of sourcing data inputs, and strategies for determining the proper outputs (spatial, visual, aural, etc).  You'll take classes on relational geometries (what I'd say is the primary interest you described in parametrics), and build on these skills with some intense studios.

Sorry if this is long winded, I don't want to mis-represent something that I wasn't fully engaged in, but more importantly, I want you to be able to make the most informed decision possible.

Mar 2, 13 4:59 pm

Sorry if this is long winded, I don't want to mis-represent something that I wasn't fully engaged in, but more importantly, I want you to be able to make the most informed decision possible.

Haha. Not to worry.  If they graduate people as articulate as you, then it's probably a good school.  Yes, it was the Martin House we learned about.  I'm surprised Sullivan did any work in Buffalo, thinking he was more focused on the Chicago area.  Sullivan had an affinity for Ocean Springs, MS, on the Gulf, where he died at a fairly early age - around 61.  *end of tangent.*

Your detail is more appreciated than a lack of detail for making decisions, especially when it's not a school everyone and their brother knows about.  I remember developing an interest in architectural curricula when I would put all of the ones I was considering side-by-side and it "didn't compute," scratching my head as to why the emphases and distributions were so different.

Mar 2, 13 5:10 pm

hey joseph thanks for u r comments they r not long winded,they r precise and give in depth information ,which is most important for an aspirant..

Mar 2, 13 11:18 pm

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