The Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon (UO) is internationally recognized for educating architects who understand sustainable design. The curriculum balances theoretical study with practical experience through design studios, professional subject course work, research and community involvement. The department's Portland program focuses on the influence of urban design and planning on building. The program builds on more than twenty-five years of teaching in the city, using Portland as a living laboratory for urban architecture. The curriculum emphasizes an architectural design process that develops connections to the urban landscape and strengthens relationships between individual buildings, public spaces and the fabric of urban districts and neighborhoods. Students learn that buildings can be designed as an integral part of the constructed and natural environmental systems that shape cities. The UO architecture program was rated #1 in sustainable design education in national surveys of U.S. architectural firms published by Design Intelligence in 2010 and 2011.
The Portland program offers advanced coursework that can be applied towards doctoral, master or bachelor degrees for students who have completed foundation studies. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the UO Architecture program in Portland engage in creative design practice and research that take advantage of and contribute to Portland's reputation as a unique urban center, a leader in green building, and a nexus of interdisciplinary creativity. Portland's innovators in urban architecture, urban design, sustainability, green building design and design methods instruct students in analyzing existing development and creating architectural designs that address current needs and envision long term-possibilities. Through fieldwork and interaction with community constituents, students gain insight into the evolution of Portland's buildings, pilot eco-districts, 20-minute neighborhoods, transit-oriented development, and urban growth boundary as well as the regional ecological contexts and building traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Architectural design is approached with the understanding that information from one scale informs another. Investigating architectural projects at the region, city, neighborhood, building and room scales invites a robust interdisciplinary dialogue with the program’s UO partners in planning, landscape architecture, interior architecture, historic preservation, product design, and allied arts.
The Portland program is affiliated with unique UO research entities that enrich student experience. Through the Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), an award-winning inter-disciplinary umbrella, students and faculty direct their research and design work to help regional communities produce innovative, tangible solutions for the creation of a sustainable society. The Portland Urban Architecture Research Laboratory (PUARL) focuses on urban architecture, urban design, and sustainability issues at local and global scales. The Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL) advise architectural designers on aspects such as building form and facade detailing to improve natural lighting and reduce energy consumption.
The UO Portland facilities are located in the Skidmore / Old Town District of downtown Portland in the newly renovated, historic White Stag Block where architectural studios overlook Waterfront Park and city views. UO Portland houses a university branch library with a collection that supports the research needs of the architecture program and provides access to the collections of over thirty libraries. A fabrication lab provides a creative workshop setting for shaping materials with both digital design and woodworking processes and an output room provides students with graphic printing assistance and services. The White Stag Block is open to the public and serves as a lively venue for exhibitions and events that engage students and faculty with community members and visitors. It is within walking distance to the Portland American Institute of Architects' Center for Architecture and very convenient to the offices of Portland’s nationally prominent architectural firms where students may complement their academic work with professional internships and practicum studies.
Throughout their time in the UO Portland Architecture program, students generate ideas inspired by architectural theory and practice, forge intellectual connections, and immerse themselves in creative work that informs their participation in public discussions about the future of urban design. The Department of Architecture encourages collaboration and the development of individual intellectual pursuits in a non-competitive, respectful environment.
The UO Department of Architecture supports the highest aspirations and values of its students. Through the study of theory and history, students can see models for engaging with the world through architectural design. In applying visionary approaches to address global issues in local situations, students learn skills for a changing, complex world. In designing for difficult urban environments, students are empowered to reshape our cities and make an impact on the future.