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Has anyone been to the Boston Architectural College?

Sep 17 '13 13 Last Comment
Feye
Sep 17, 13 9:33 am

It's disheartening to see that no one seems to be aware of the Historic Preservation Program at the BAC (I had posted earlier regarding the same and got no response).

So now, is there anyone who has been to the BAC? I'd love to hear from someone who has been or is currently a student there. 

What have others heard about the BAC? Apart from the obvious, which I've seen online. Has anybody heard from people who have been there?

I'd appreciate any input on this.

Thanks

 

toasteroven
Sep 17, 13 10:39 am

I don't know a lot about the historic preservation program - but I get the feeling it might be somewhat new england focused - but I'm sure a lot of the same issues would apply anywhere else that has a lot of building stock that dates 19th century and earlier.

 

The BAC itself is a decent, but extremely challenging and long program (because you'll be working full time while going to school full time).  The quality of student work is hit or miss (as are studios) - there are some extremely talented graduate students there who are obviously going to the program because they want be in the Boston area and their only other choices are MIT and the GSD and it's "cheaper" (the other 3 MArch programs are actually the 5th year of their B.Arch - so not really open to outsiders), but there are also some people who you wonder why they're pursuing a career in architecture.  Same in terms of instruction - in general the more technical courses are really good because they're taught by local practitioners - however the studios are often taught by potential architectural stars who are just starting out in their teaching career (which means, you can have either an extremely cutting edge studio that is the future of architecture education, or something where you're just going to have to make the best of it).  The number of people who start out and eventually end up in thesis or degree project is pretty low - mostly because they have open admission and people don't realize just how much work it is and drop out after a couple years.  It's nice in a way that it gives everyone a chance to prove themselves, but I do feel like they often end up stringing people along who really should leave after a semester.

 

That said - I know at least 2 or 3 of the largest firms in the Boston area are run by BAC grads, and many go on to work for some big name people and firms and run their own offices...

Feye
Sep 17, 13 11:02 am

Thanks a lot toasteroven! Like you said, I am hoping that the Historic Preservation program falls into the category of the technical courses. I've seen some of their demo videos showing the on-site classes which are taught by people directly involved in the industry and local to Boston. From what you said it seems to me that you have to be pretty much driven yourself, to sustain in this college, unlike other universities where you could also rely a bit on your environment to keep you focused.

BACAdmissions
Sep 18, 13 3:35 pm

More information about Historic Preservation programs at the Boston Architectural College can be found at www.the-bac.edu/hp.  Toasteroven- thank you for responding. The above description is referencing our onsite professional degree programs. BAC's Master of Design Studies in Historic Preservation is offered in a low-residency online format. Students can maintain employment and complete their graduate studies from anywhere. Combining online instruction with week-long intensive experiences encourages the establishment of close professional and personal relationships among students and faculty. I am happy to put you in contact with a current student or alumni of historic preservation at the BAC. You can reach me at paige.manning@the-bac.edu or 617 585-0137. Robert Ogle, Director of Historic Preservation, is happy to speak with you as well. He can be reached at robert.ogle@the-bac.edu or 617 585-0259. 

snooker-doodle-dandy
Sep 18, 13 9:12 pm

I cut my  teeth at BAC....It is a great school if you are focused!  Thinking where else could you want to be but in Bean Town if you wanted to  Study Historic Preservation in New England.

backbay
Sep 18, 13 10:02 pm

i've heard it has its issues and takes FOREVER,  but its really the only non-ivy (aka attainable for normal people).  

the (mostly internal, 5th year) masters programs are wentworth, northeastern, and (i think?) massart.  a lot of people in massachusetts don't realize that umass amherst also has a program.  i know i didn't.

Median
Sep 18, 13 11:36 pm

I attended Boston Architectural College a number of years in the B.Arch program before transferring out. If you are set on working during your education, love Boston, and are proactive on supplementing your learning, then the BAC might not be a bad choice. I will mainly give my concerns with the institution.

The program set up so students work during the day and go to school at night, the idea is that you learn a lot of hands on experience from actual on the job training, which goes hand and hand with your schooling. I think for some students, this works excellently, the issue with the BAC is that, as an open admissions college, they have a very large and ever growing body of students, and many of them struggle to find employment (there simply is not that many jobs for students in firms), and therefore struggle to continue with their degrees, as the practice/working segments are required. The school has loosened the requirements, and students can gain practice credits from having almost any job now, even working at a Home Depot Checkout(which really the stated goal of the institution).

I think another concern is a lack of dedicated studio space, the limited hours of operation of the buildings and services, and the limited studio time (only 3 hours a week, which I believe is the least amount of studio time in any accredited program), these I feel are the major negatives. Due to these issues students just do not produce the level of  work quality, the level of creative work, nor the amount of work that you would come to expect at other institutions.

The school is trying to stay relevant, they have expanded their facilities, and are focusing more on faculty, but with such a large student body, over 1,300, they really have not gotten away from taking whoever and whatever is willing to teach. 

Overall they are going through a vast number of changes which would seem to improve their offerings, but I believe also that any beneficial changes are short changed as the many of the old dogs in the school are stagnant, stationary and are not going anywhere. The school is run by a lawyer, not a designer, and Dean of Students has created a very bad environment for students to really break out of the mould. For a small school, I have never seen such red tape, such politics within the administration and such an iron fist from student development against creativity and exploration.

The BAC does have a good marketing department, but ultimately I feel it is run as bad as most for profit institutions, and the BAC's graduation rate is very similar to those for profit schools.

toasteroven
Sep 19, 13 12:31 am

yeah - I guess if you're going the professional degree route, there are an awful lot of "gate-keepers" at that program instead of educators.

 

Personally - I think it's a great school for people who already have a design background and are looking to finish their professional degree while working in the area - but for bachelors, I'd recommend going to a university.

Feye
Sep 19, 13 9:42 am

Thanks a lot for all the input guys. I'm getting at better picture now about the college.

What about the distance M.Arch program? Has anyone done that? How does it work? In our Bachelors don't we all spend hours in studios to work on stuff, so here would it mean that you'd basically be working at home on projects with the guidance of faculty online? Or is it that in M.Arch you don't have as much practical work?

Eric Corey FreedEric Corey Freed
Sep 19, 13 3:38 pm

I teach at Boston Architectural College in their Sustainable Design Master program.  We work closely with the Historic Preservation students (we share our intensives a little at the beginning of each semester).

I can tell you HP is an incredible program.  It is not "New England" focused, though I can understand why you would think that. 

The distance program is run by Lance Fletcher:  lance.fletcher_AT_the-bac.edu who can explain how everything works.  Their focus on sustainability is incredible.

I love the school, and love the facilities and location (Back Bay).  The quality of the student work varies quite a bit based on YOU.  I think that successfully getting through the program (especially the distance and low-residency) takes you to be focused and diligent.

In any Master's program, you are expected to act like a professional, so no one is going to hold your hand or coddle you through it.  The caliber of the work from the good students is really incredible.  Let me know if I can be of help.  Feel free to contact me:  eric_AT_organicarchitect.com.

Feye
Sep 20, 13 2:30 pm

Thanks for the info Eric.

s=r*(theta)
Sep 21, 13 4:11 pm

yes i have been to Boston architectural college. is it possible its def. in the shadow of the Harvard GSD, and MIT?

backbay
Sep 21, 13 4:39 pm

just FYI a good portion of architecture faculty in boston schools are from the GSD and MIT.  PhD's gotta pay the bills.

Median
Sep 21, 13 8:46 pm

The teaching faculty at the BAC work on a very small stipend, they are not paying any bills with it. Which is why it is not uncommon at the BAC to see students a year or so from finishing who are teaching first year studios. The school has a teaching issue, they do not get enough instructors in for the amount of students they have and they resort to taking who-ever is available and willing, they are not blind to this issue, though it mainly affects the B.Arch program.

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