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University of Virginia vs. Tulane University

mintdomino

Hello!

I am looking for some feedback from recent grads/ professionals regarding the strength and overall feeling of the M.Arch I programs at UVa and Tulane.

With merit aid included, the programs are relatively the same price and I have received advanced standing from both schools. The schools are very similar especially since the dean of Tulane is a recent transplant from UVa, they even participate in the same studio project in India. What are some main differences in perception of the program as well as living in Charlottesville vs NOLA?

Tulane

  • NOLA, exciting setting
  • Program
    • Small Center for Design
    • Design/Build Community Aspect
    • Sustainability is paramount to their program
  • Building to undergo renovations in Summer of 2020
  • International Studio Travel
  • Alumni concentrated in NYC and LA
  • Okay Fab Lab/Studio Equipment
  • Cost of living is high

UVA

  • Charlottesville, Rural Setting
  • Program
    • Integrated Landscape Arch Studio
    • Place based studios (LA, NYC, Arctic, South America)
    • Emphasis on representation
  • Building recently renovated
  • Semester abroad in Barcelona/Venice
  • Intense alumni network
  • Great Fab Lab/Studio Equipment
  • Cost of living a bit less

Thank you!

 
Apr 1, 20 12:15 pm
thisisnotmyname

As of right now, I wouldn't factor Tulane's "building renovation" as a plus.  They have been talking about doing it for literally decades.   Don't believe anything until its completed, and then see if it actually made the building better for end-users.

Apr 1, 20 4:01 pm  · 
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mintdomino

Thanks for that tip...

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thisisnotmyname

And you are very correct about New Orleans being expensive. It can be very grinding unless you have inherited wealth or a person in your life who is willing and able to heavily subsidize your expenses.

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mintdomino

Are you a Tulane graduate?

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thisisnotmyname

Yes, but several decades back. Attending Tulane for architecture school was good for me overall. Today, I am in New Orleans frequently for work and visit the architecture school from time to time.

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mintdomino

@thisisnotmyname Would you be able to speak to the robustness of the alumni network?

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thisisnotmyname

Not sure I am the best person to answer that, my early career was In the deep south where the network is naturally quite strong. My classmates have settled far and wide in the USA and many are quite successful, so there's that.

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thatsthat

Charlottesville is gorgeous year-round.  Plus its not too far from DC if you want to take a day trip and see some sites.  The restaurants there are top-notch for a town its size.  Additionally, the school had a real emphasis on 'interdisciplinary' studies when I was there; they required interaction between students in different fields.  The alumni network is extremely strong; you can move probably anywhere after graduation and find alumni there.

Apr 1, 20 5:22 pm  · 
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mintdomino

Thank you for the liveability insight @thatsthat!​ More on the alumni network, do you think earning your degree from UVA was specifically helpful in obtaining jobs? How does the UVA degree stack up compared to other schools/ how can you compare a UVA student's preparedness for professional practice to students from other schools?

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thatsthat

I didn't get an M.Arch but a related masters from the A-School, but the alumni network definitely helped me. In my case, the internship I got right out of school was from a UVA M.Arch friend who was already hired for a full-time position at the firm I was looking to intern for and he vouched for me. From there, I got a full-time job in an architectural position at a different firm; the owner of the firm is a UVA grad who likes to hire other grads. I think it helps to intern during summers and UVA definitely encourages that.

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mintdomino

That's definitely encouraging to hear! Were you or any of your friends involved in the Barcelona/ Venice programs at UVA?

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archanonymous

I am biased toward Tulane but only because I haven't worked with many UVA grads and don't see them around much.

NOLA can be a tough place to live, but very rewarding.

Apr 1, 20 6:42 pm  · 
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mintdomino

Where do you work? Is there any "hallmark" you have noticed about Tulane students or specific skills ?

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archanonymous

I'd rather not say on my anonymous account, but it's a well-known firm. Tulane students get a great grounding through the design-build projects. Its a very participatory education process as well. Have you visited either?

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thisisnotmyname

I second the comment above about Tulane's design-build. If I were attending today, I would make it a point to do those studios. Byron Mouton is a gem among the current faculty.

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mintdomino

@archanonymous I was lucky enough to have visited Tulane for their admitted students day and that tour of their design build projects and center was an absolute selling point for me. My main question is: Do you think the distinctive design build aspect of Tulane's program rivals the alumni network and higher ranked program at UVA? (In your opinion!)

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mintdomino

@thisisnotmyname Tulane's whole initiative seems to be so unique both with their socially inclusive approach to design and their environmental context within the rivershed. However, I am not sure if their network is as rich as UVA, which begs the question is the exciting educational aspects of TU worth sacrificing the sturdy well known program at Virginia...

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mintdomino

@archanonymous Could you elaborate further on what you meant by NOLA being a tough place to live?

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thisisnotmyname

Some extra effort and initiative on your part to work the Tulane network may mitigate it's possible lack of strength versus UVA (if UVA really does indeed have a better network). As person several decades into their career, I believe the effectiveness of networks depends a lot on the effort you put in to networking within it. The only school I know of where a person who makes no effort can leverage the name on their diploma to get offered any architecture job they apply for is Harvard.

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archanonymous

NOLA can be a distracting place to live and it is a real city with real problems, not a college town. This really shapes the approach the school takes and what I took away from my education.

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Archlandia

I only know one UVA M.Arch alum. great person and beautiful portfolio. He said that "living there sucked and the school wasn't worth it". With that said, I think he was being critical (don't think he meant it) because as I said his work was great and got job offers at really awesome firms after graduation. I think he was mostly uncomfortable with the culture in the state.

Hope that helps at all? ha

Apr 1, 20 10:13 pm  · 
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mintdomino

Thank you it definitely helps! That's a different perspective for sure, I think I would agree with the Charlottesville area being a bit dull in comparison to New Orleans, but in your opinion, is that a reason to turn down the school? Is living with the culture in VA for 2 years worth the reputation and quality output of the school?

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Archlandia

I don’t think it’s a reason to turn down a school, but I also believe in sacrifices for the greater goal. I mean, people still attend Yale even though New Haven is a shithole.

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soham86

UIUC, ASU, University at buffalo, University of Arizona.


Which should i consider to choose among these for M.ARCH program?

Apr 2, 20 1:34 am  · 
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Archlandia

UIUC or UofArizona. UIUC first though

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drinks_at_avec

The Dean at Tulane was  a prof previoulsy forced out at UVa. The Old Guard at UVa scoffed at his work and did not think it was up to the standards established in the 90s when UVa's grad school ranking climbed into the top 10. They argued the planning ideas were strong but not developed into strong buildings. He applied for the Dean job at Michigan and ended up at Tulane. UVa has some very good people–as I am sure Tulane does–and the school will keep you so busy that you will not have much time out of studio. Charlottesville is an odd place–it is part bedroom community for the DC set, has three coffee roasters in a town of 47,000, is one of the few places with a (closed street) downtown mall filled with (upper middle class and rich) people–which also has a dark history and pockets of poverty to remind you how fortunate you are and how clueless some of the faculty are there (see note below regarding previous Dean). There is a relatively new Dean and the students are very smart and motivated. If you are in your twenties and into Olmstead–who isn't into Olmstead?–it is a good place to go.  There is a large nationwide networking group–SF, Austin, Chicago, DC and New York. The recognition that landscape (don't call landscape architecture "landscape" to the old Dean's face or she will ask you to do 10 pushups and draw a cultural atlas on your arm with a sharpee) and architecture are two parts of a whole is very productive. There are a couple of super Spanish architects there who add incredible knowledge of structures to the landscape/architecture paradigm and/or endeavor to create amazing work as good as anywhere. I have heard that the emphasis on designing building has ebbed in favor of planning. (Not sure though.) There was a razzle-dazzle display by newer faculty there about fracking/shale oil at a recent biennale that was a better expository research article than compelling tectonic experience. Also, there has never been much of an architectural theory crowd at the school–I am talking like K Michael Hays stuff which tends to be incomprehensible and in the end a waste of time unless translated into English which renders most of it to be snake oil–but there is a serious interest in ideas that will help you stake out a career in an architecture and/or teaching. I would not borrow much money to go to either school for an MArch as I think it limits what you can do after you graduate. Get some money from them! Good luck!

Apr 2, 20 3:59 am  · 
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UVA MArch '14

I dont know anything about Tulane, other than the chair Inyaki Alday who was our former dept. chair at Uva.  I liked him a lot and he is the catalyst for the strong Spanish contingency at the A-school.  

I chose UVa over Penn and Rice.  A few reasons below why I enjoyed my time in Charlottesville:

1. Cville is a beautiful place year-around. And considering the city's size, it has abundant amenities as mentioned above.  I would not consider Charlottesville "rural" or "dull".  Thats more fitting for Blacksburg :).

2. The alumni network is deep. Name any big, important, or starchitect office or otherwise, and there is a UVa alum in that office, or even as a founder member.  

3. UVa as a whole is legit. I was very impressed by what the other departments are doing on the national and int'l stage.  Doesnt feel like the other state (commuter) school I went to for undergrad.  

4. The landscape and architecture studios collaborate together a lot. Many are double majoring in those two.

5. Brand new fabrication facilities.  You name it, they have it.  I havent been to all of the architecture schools in the US, though I've been to several. It has to be one of the best shops in the country.

6. It was very affordable compared to all the other schools I applied to.

7. I really enjoyed the faculty. Not a whole lot of old-timers who are passed their prime.

8. There are more reasons but I need to get back to work.  Send me a message if you want some more opinions....

Apr 2, 20 9:25 am  · 
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