Parsons, Pratt, or GSAPP? (Master of Architecture)


Parsons, Pratt, or GSAPP?

just got accepted to all 3 schools for their 3 yr master of architecture programs. now decision time!
i want to hear what people have to say about them.

Mar 16, 11 5:21 pm

it all depends on what you want to get out of the program.

while i'm sure you don't necessarily have to go this route, gsaap places a heavy emphasis (from the work i've seen and the alumni i've known) on digital design. parametrics, scripting, digital fabrication, all that stuff. if you're into that, you're in the right place for sure. spendy as all hell, but then you have an ivy in your pocket.

though it's an art school, my understanding is that pratt is pretty balanced between the digital stuff and old school modern architecture theory. i'd guess it's probably somewhat easier to choose your own path at pratt than gsaap. the downside of pratt is that the faculty is almost entirely adjunct, so they may have a difficult time assembling a cohesive curriculum. you could potentially take a class from lebbeus woods, which would be incredible.

i don't know a whole lot about parsons other than that the design workshop with david lewis of ltl is badass. the school has a good reputation, but the program hasn't been around all that long, relatively. it's also in manhattan, and shares resources with cooper, etc. one thing that really turned me off about parsons is that they close the studios at night, which just seems completely absurd. they also don't have a whole lot of the sort of facilities that most universities offer (they don't have a gym, for example).

the open houses should clarify some things, but i would first try to decide whether you are more interested in an art school environment (pratt/parsons) or bigtime nurbtown (gsaap).

Mar 17, 11 3:02 pm  · 

another thing that you should think about is the fact that you get cheap guaranteed housing at columbia. if the decision was mine; living in the city for three years sounds far more appealing than living in fort greene (pratt) brooklyn, or wherever parson's is at.

Mar 20, 11 3:23 pm  · 


Could you explain this cheap guaranteed housing?... (I'm sort of in the same boat as aaa-arch).

When I received the email from GSAPP they mentioned that on-campus housing is possible, but availability is not guaranteed. Let's say I did manage to get housing... any idea as to how much it costs?

Mar 21, 11 4:09 pm  · 

Housing is only guaranteed for incoming freshmen of Columbia 'College' (like most colleges). This does not include graduate students who are entering graduate/professional 'schools' of Columbia. FYI columbia student housing is not cheap. Average monthly rate for shared dorm is $1000 a month.

Pratt and GSAPP are good school, although I would not put 2 schools in the same rank for obvious reason; one is an ivy league university.

Parson is not known for architecture, but they have an enormous budget and they are currently doing some interesting stuff.

I assume you have already seen the works of the students, know who teaches there, know who came out, and most importantly, you have visited the school before you started asking third parties for opinion right ?

Mar 21, 11 5:47 pm  · 

$1000 a month including utilities, in morningside heights is really cheap. it's about the same price as living in a 2 bedroom with a roommate in the backwaters of brooklyn (counting utilities, not just rent).

Mar 27, 11 9:43 am  · 

Dear aaa-arch,
hello , i was looking in google for opinions about which university is better for masters, and i found this forum ... 

im interested in the Master of Architecture, in Columbia and Pratt ! ! right now im starting my Portfolio, i was wondering if you could help me with few doubts that i have, knowing that you has been accepted in both universities ... well , mi mail is: , please contact me... thanks     

Mar 5, 14 7:19 pm  · 
It's true GSAPP concentrates on digital design, I'm currently attending BA at Columbia and interning at an arch studio where there are two people graduated from GSAPP, they seem really pro at various programs (or I just don't know enough haha)
Mar 11, 14 3:40 am  · 

The program at Parsons is constantly in flux. A nice thing about it is that the Architecture studios share space with lighting design and interior design. There is an optional "integrated studio" where you are teamed up with students from other programs - a valuable resource for learning to coordinate with other trades.

The Design Workshop program at Parsons is a strong one that will provide a great opportunity for a built work in your portfolio before leaving school IN NY. While other schools have similar design build programs, they do not have to work within the parameters of NYC. The last few years have been on landmarked sites - a very good experience for a student.

Mar 11, 14 10:28 am  · 

After two years pursuing my M.Arch at Parsons:

Parsons will present to you a "dynamic syllabus," on more than one occasion. Everyone is digitally illiterate, and every instructor is adjunct. They will not teach you, they will discourage, digital design. The student body is young, chaotic, and colorful. You will be graded on your ability to be friendly. If it's not a studio, it's a seminar. You will never take a quiz. You'll have one week to design any final presentation after enduring desultory assignments from multiple sources.

Feb 14, 20 10:30 am  · 

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