Architecture at the University of Chicago....


Given U of C's status as an elite school in many of the academic
programs it offers, the perceived mediocrity of the other Chicago schools, and U of C's strength in the Arts and Humanities, would
anyone be interested to see architectural coursework be offered there?


Jul 27, 05 2:19 pm

I would. UofC is (in humanities and economics) one of the best in the country... that would be a great resource for an architecutre school.

Jul 27, 05 2:35 pm

According to my cousin, an undergrad at UofChicago, they consider architecture to be a "trade" not an academic pursuit, and so don't teach it there. Sounded very snobby the way she put it.

Jul 27, 05 2:46 pm
Shalak Moore

But architects are never snobby . . .

That's my old stompin' ground. There's definitely an element of snobbery there, but it's not that pervasive, and not official policy. Mostly, people are just hardcore geek academics and don't realize how their attitudes affect others. There are people in Hyde Park who consider medicine a "trade" as well. One doesn't go to med school to become a doctor and work with, heaven forbid, the unbathed masses. . .one goes to med school to further one's research credentials. Get it?

I would be interested to see what Northwestern could offer up as an architecture school.

Jul 27, 05 4:52 pm
Living in Gin

I'd agree that Chicago needs more in the way of architecture schools, though.

Boston has four architecture schools, the NYC area has seven, DC has four... What does Chicago, with all its rich architectural heritage, have? IIT and UIC. Arrgh.

Personally, I'd like to see something in Chicago modelled on the Boston Architectural Center, where students work full-time at firms during the day, and take their classes in the evenings.

Jul 27, 05 6:13 pm

aic is in the process of doing a full blow arch degree + less one forget.... the MArch program at judson college in elgin

from the home page of the arch program....

"The faith-based mission of the institution also plays a crucial role in the delivery of this degree program. The department mission is experienced by every student in the Masters program:

* Prepare students to contribute positively to the church, profession and community through leadership and service by maximizing their talents or the glory of God and the betterment of our world

* Provide a balanced integrative curriculum in a rigorous but supportive environment.

* Graduate competent designers who are critical thinkers, caring individuals, sensitive to the physical and cultural contexts and committed to ethical practice and the stewardship of the planet.

ahhhh -- who needs those snobs in hyde park!

Jul 27, 05 6:30 pm

I think the Boston Architectural Center model might have some merit (potential cost differences aside). As opposed to the other Chicago schools, U of C's graduate numbers far outweigh the undergrad; maybe this factor would help support their agenda of making their money from research. Its hard to make research money from "a trade". Although, I would argue that the better schools avoid precisely such an approach.

Jul 27, 05 6:35 pm
Cheyne Owens

perceived mediocrity!

I don't think U of C would get very far. I think Northwestern is better suited for a "real" architecture program. That being said I still enjoyed myself at both of the other schools.

Jul 27, 05 6:55 pm
Cheyne Owens

And by the way U of C is already very involved and always has been in the state of Chicago Architecture.

Jul 27, 05 7:56 pm

There are also rumors going around that Stanford is planning some sort of major in architecture.

Jul 27, 05 8:01 pm
Cheyne Owens

yes, they already have an intro design studio

Jul 27, 05 9:35 pm

Northwestern would definately be interesting in this regard, and I can imagine it alongside WashU and Michigan as the top architecture schools (at the top universitys) in the midwest.

anyone hoping for an arch program at UofC should look first at how little they value their existing art program. unless someone has a few million bucks to throw at them, I can't see it happening.

the BAC model would be interesting in Chicago. Columbia College does have a program in interior architecture, and it could be likely that they grow that into something more broad (and useful). And while they're not terribly (at all) prestigous, they are already attracting the same kinds of students BAC does -- and they're art dept is solid and they've got a great location just south of the Loop.

Northwestern and Columbia College additions to the offerings in Chicago would seem to round it out quite nicely next to UIC, IIT, and (lest we forget) Archeworks.

Jul 28, 05 9:16 am

I graduated from Chicago and would welcome the idea. It's a great school with very rigorous coursework. I would be amazed to see how an architecure program would work there, especially with the quarter system still in place.

Is this a realistic proposal, though, or just wishful thinking?

Jul 28, 05 9:51 am

I also agree, UofC does not seem a good fit for an architecture program, while Northwestern would be a better fit. Its student body seems more geared for that kind of program. Granted, UofC is one of the best schools in the country, but from my experience with friends there, they would do better with Architectural Theory or history.

I would like to see columbia or the school of the art institute develop better architecture programs. IIT's school is the best in the city right now, but it needs more competition for schools that are not so like minded.

Jul 28, 05 10:10 am

I went to the U of C, and I can tell you first hand an architecture department will never, ever materialize there. Ever.

There's one person who teaches architectural theory in the art history department, and from what I understand, she's pretty crap. As a rule, the U of C doesn't like the idea of starting professional schools. I took a couple production-oriented classes while an undergrad, in music and film. Everything else was historical, theoretical, etc; design is just not on the collective radar. A shame really.

It's a great education, without question, but not a place for creative types. Unless, like me, you want a broad academic foundation before continuing with more specific graduate study.

My $.02.

Jul 28, 05 11:48 am

The argument that UofC won't have an architecture school, at least at the graduate level, because it is seen as a trade is silly since they already have schools for law, medicine, and business, the last of which is the most ham-fisted white-collar vocational school possible.

They even do "executive business school" programs so that managers at Ernst & Young can tack UofC onto their resume without actually having to stop working and immerse themselves in an academic environment. So yes, the idea that UofC is too "pure" an academic experience for architecture is baseless pompous bullshit.

I think the best argument as to why (besides the fact that UIC, IIT, UIUC, & others are nearby) would be that a top architecture school would cost a lot of money to start, and wouldn't really generate much reciprocal income in the short or long term. How many multi-millionaire architects do you know of donating buildings to their alma mater?

Jul 28, 05 12:23 pm

sorkin! ha ha

Jul 28, 05 4:40 pm

Interrupt and others-

If Judson started up an accredited program, I can't imagine that U of C would be hesitant of the cost. Other elite institutions have found a way to make research oriented programs flourish in cities with a lesser presence in terms of practice, media and construction. And the draw of such a program would be international; they would not be fishing from the same pool as the other local schools. Again, I only brought up U of C because of its strength in the humanities (and affiliations with local cultural institutions) as well as its student demographics, which differ significantly from Northwestern's in terms of grad to undergrad ratio. I could see a practice oriented program emphasizing a collaborative approach at NU (similar to its Kellogg philosophy), but for a research oriented program to compete with MIT, Columbia and the like, I think Chicago would be stronger.

The biggest challenge I see is the pejorative attitude towards the Arts you mentioned. Attitudes can be changed with time and personnel; but it would take the right kind of prime mover with an agenda and connections. If the attitude towards the Arts is as bad as you indicate,
and if it runs too deep, its a damn shame.


Jul 29, 05 6:53 pm

I saw this post and am a little disappointed that none of you really looked much further and are really being rather elitist and snobbish when it comes to schools.  Yes, U of C and Northwestern doesn't have architecture programs, while they both have an excellent humanities, arts and engineering programs.  The fact is that you have four excellent architecture schools in the City alone and five in the State already; the State of Illinois decided long ago that there were plenty of architecture schools to go around.  And that's just Illinois proper - Don't forget that you have University of Wisconsin in both Madison and Milwaukee less than 2 hours drive away, and Notre Dame University which is 3 hours due east of Chicago.  Remember that the number of architects needed to sustain a profession is much less than for engineering and the humanities.

The University of Illinois which is the second oldest architecture program in the world behind Harvard and has two architecture schools, one at its main campus in Champaign-Urbana but the other (and largest) is in Downtown Chicago (UIC). This is where I went to study architecture and we had world renowned architects frequently as guest professors. Each week we studied some of the best architecture in the world and was an overall enriching experience that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to study architecture.  There is an old rivalry between the UIC and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) which is located closer to Chinatown and Comiskey Park. Both schools are excellent and well worth looking into.  If you want a Bachelor of Arts program that is a good starter degree, then look into the Art Institute. It has more of a design basis than UIC and IIT; however, you cannot get a professional degree there.

This post is very old, but didn't want to keep those of you in the East ignorant of what Chicago has to offer.  Don't worry - the rich heritage of Chicago architecture will carry on well for future generations who choose to study architecture where there is architecture.

Feb 8, 13 9:32 am

Chicagoland does NOT need another architecture school.  The city has UIC and IIT.  The state has the large UIUC, going back to the 1800s, 2 hours to the south.  North of there is UW-Milwaukee and east of there is Notre Dame.  Neither private U of C nor private Northwestern need an architectural program. 

Feb 10, 13 1:35 pm

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