Do I dare attend CU Denver?


I attended the undergraduate program at University of Colorado in Boulder. I really liked it. I'm about to get my MArch and applied to the graduate program at CU Denver. I was accepted. The problem is I've only heard bad things about the school and the program. Just yesterday, the architect I used to work for told me to go "Anywhere but Denver. Anywhere." I haven't heard any reasoning why UCD's program is so bad, but there is definite negativity towards the school anytime it is brought up. I feel like any advisor or teacher at CU Denver will of course tell me it is a good program. What is so bad about the architecture program at CU Denver?!?! I just want an honest opinion with some veritable reasoning. Is there anyone who has gone there/is going there/knows anything about the school that could help me out?

Mar 20, 07 6:54 pm

Im at the ENVD school (undergraduate) at the moment in boulder. I have also heard mixed opinions about the graduate school. I think that they have hired good staff members in the last couple years and are def trying to build their program. It's no ivy league school in terms of rankings, but the city is great. I can ask around at school, but what are you looking to find out??

Mar 20, 07 7:03 pm  · 

I went to CU Boulder undergrad too. I was told by numerous studio instructors to go somewhere else for grad school. The one good thing about CU Denver is that its cheap for residents. One of my profs told me that it would be a good place to go for that reason but to make sure that I went somewhere else afterwards to get a post-professional degree (M.Arch 2).

The bad thing about CU Denver is that its not a progressive school at all and they are not making any effort to become better. They also don't have the facilities that all the good schools have. They have some pretty good faculty but its hit or miss. So if you are looking for something affordable that is an accredited program and will allow you to be licensed then CU Denver is good enough. But if you want an education that will allow to work somewhere besides Denver, then I would go somewhere else.

Mar 20, 07 7:26 pm  · 

Diversity looks good on your resume. Staying in a local system will make it hard to find employment outside of Denver, probably make it harder to get a job in Denver too.

Mar 21, 07 9:03 am  · 

Where else did you get in?

Mar 21, 07 11:51 am  · 

trace - I don't think it will make it hard to get a job anywhere. Denver has a ton of national firms...a really shocking number. There is a lot of work there. Easier for them to recruit at CU than at other schools out of state for those jobs.

Mar 21, 07 11:52 am  · 
Ms Beary

Remember, your school doesn't make you a better or worse architect, it's all on you. You make with your education what you make of it.

A degree from CU Denver could be quite beneficial if you plan to work locally, use it to network and understand local issues. If you find yourself in practice elsewhere in the future, I'd make the jump now and get your master's elsewhere. So, what do you want out of your masters is the question?

Mar 21, 07 1:00 pm  · 

I've also been accepted to CU. I wanted to know if anybody could comment on it's place as a school for focusing on sustainability. I'm very interested in the field. I'm still waiting to hear back from University of Oregon, but I'm not wild about living Eugene. If it's between CU and NJIT (I've also been accepted there) what advice do people have?

Any comments at all on CU will be a great help to me too.

Mar 22, 07 2:58 am  · 

Having several national firms doesn't mean anything, they are everywhere.

I just thnk diversity is a good foundation. Colorado does not have a good reputation for architecture, so having two degrees from here won't help you.

That said, I do know of at least a few people that went to CU that I think are highly talented (though their undergrad degrees were at great schools).

Mar 22, 07 8:52 am  · 


anyone out there currently in CU's grad program or a recent graduate?

i'm trying to get a feel for how the facilities are, prof, etc. i've visited denver and have seen the campus, but not the actual studio spaces. i don't think i'll get a chance to go back and visit before i have to decide if i'm going to apply there.

coming from a program where everyone is housed in the same building, i wonder how it is with the separate locations for undergrad and grad.

i know the program is all about what you make it, but with that being said - i'm trying to find out if there is the opportunity to really develop... if that makes sense at all...

any insight would be appreciated!

Sep 12, 07 12:06 pm  · 

I'm not a CU grad - and won't be attending there. But, I did consider it for this fall. Here are my 2-cents from when I did visit the facilities:
The studio spaces were fine, but the building itself I found to be oppressive and - less than inspirational. I think they had a reasonable wood shop, 2-laser cutters, etc.. . I was attracted to their program because a. I was a Colorado resident and b. they offer a Master of Urban design as well as the Master of Architecture. Ultimately however, I was really turned off by what seemed to be a real lack of connectedness to the professional community in Denver and the less than "progressive" attitude that CU's program is good if you just want to get licensed and get on with it. So, ultimately it wasn't the right school for me, but to be fair I do think that Denver as a city has a lot to offer potentially if you can make the right connections - so it may be worth applying just to see what happens. Ultimately connections will be made if you're willing to pursue them - CU just might not be much of a help in making those connections.

Sep 12, 07 1:14 pm  · 

thanks w3 - that's definitely along the lines of the information i was looking for!

Sep 12, 07 1:51 pm  · 

I graduated from undergrad at CU Boulder. Their graduate program definitely feeds off the positive things happening in Boulder. While I was in Boulder I was fortunate enough to participate in a studio program that was held at the Denver campus and I have to say the facilities there are not great, and do not compare with the new facilities that are being developed in Boulder. Perhaps they will share these new facilities and access to technology such as 3d printers and multi axis cnc machines will be available to grad students as well, but that will still require at least a half an hour drive which will get really old really quick. The faculty at Denver does however have some great potential and I found many of them to be extremely inspiring. I would expect that the reputation of the program would start to turn around soon especially as the undergraduate program gains steam. I would encourage anyone not from the CU program to go there. However why would you want to get fed the same philosophies in graduate school that you got in undergrad? I think that a diverse education is a really really good thing. Take the chance to get out of Colorado, I did and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, don’t be afraid I know Denver seems like the safe choice but the safe choice has hardly ever defined anyone or made them into anything worth while.

Sep 13, 07 2:53 am  · 


I appreciate your comments here.

CU Denver is my backup school as I enter the app process (again)..and man...I can only find one reason to go there...

Study abroad. haha
I could live in Co , which obviously rocks...but then still get the exposure to h,t,&c..and contemporary design pedgogies by taking every semester abroad.

That school is for people with one thing on their minds..getting in and out with out the debt. There is a lot of work opportunity here in CO, so its practical. I think many work and go there.

there is a new digital fabrication studio, that is getting started up, that will probably take the ENVD program up a notch,...we'll have to see if the CU Denver student get access...

Sep 19, 07 12:36 pm  · 

Go look at the student work. Nothing reveals where a school is really at like the work the students produce.

There is decent stuff around CO, but tons of horrible stuff too.

Sep 19, 07 8:56 pm  · 

I went to the CINC building yesterday. The CINC is the new design / build and digital fabrication center, (prototypers, cnc,etc)..<it stands for Center for Innovation and Creativity.> Its blocks from my house.

I inquired about whether as a potential CU Denver student, I might get some access. That school so slow and bureaucratic...I was pretty turned off with how it all is going.

From all appearances, CU has the facilities, theoretically, but they just don;t have the drive to make the school what it should be..

Trace you are right,...the large majority of students @ CU Boulder ,..IN MY OPINION , have a moderate approach to the work load (more into snowboarding and partying) , and there seems to be a lot of mediocrity coming out there..with a few BRIGHT stars.

I think that some of the profs. at CU Boulder are very good,...but I blame the vision of the Grad program for why it is so off balance. I mean the website for CU Denver says it all... I think they are struggling to find an identity, but not stuggling fast enough...

in my opinion.

Its really disappointing.

Sep 20, 07 11:55 am  · 

As a recent grad of the program I would agree with most of what has been said.

Ultimately it is what you make of it. I spent a semester at one of the "progressive architecture" LA schools and didn't see much of a difference, in terms of quality, or most importantly work ethic than I did at my 2 yrs at Denver.

While the school sometime thinks it is moving its towards being labeled a green driven design school it is lacking the definition that some of the other posts have spoken of.

Lastly the program is turning around and if having a good quality of life is important that I would look more closely at what schools you have applied to. I .E. I got a significant scholarship to IIT in Chitown but after talking to a lot of the students on a trip out there no one seemed like they enjoyed life, or more importantly school. CU Denver has at least that going for If Skiing, biking, and outdoors, is as important to you as architecture maybe check it out...

Jun 17, 08 1:57 pm  · 

That is the most optimism i haver ever heard about that school...especially coming from someone that spent time at other schools. Its refreshing I guess. I mean I don't think anyone buys all the hype about being a "green" and I both know that trying to sell that shit, is like putting them self on a shelf labeled "Trade School".

I mean having a curriculum where the Undergrads having exclusive access the new Fab facilities is like someone having children drive a new Corvette, but not you remain in the cubicle with your uh......trace paper, and chip board.

anyway, I am sure Sommerfeld could lift it out of its funk..but the question is..will Gelernter just push it back down.

Jun 17, 08 10:50 pm  · 

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