UofM: 2011 Best M.Arch Program


Time for change

Since 2004, when DesignIntelligence began ranking undergrad and grad programs separately, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design has held top honors for its M.Arch. program. So it is fascinating to consider how the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning nudged Harvard out of No. 1 this year. In fact, Michigan didn’t even appear on our list of top 20 grad programs last year. It hovered just below the requisite votes needed to tie for 20th place.

Suddenly emerging at the top seems like an unlikely story for Michigan. Yet the unfolding story is even more interesting. In her Dean’s Message posted on the Taubman College Web site, Monica Ponce de Leon explains how the school is reformulating a pedagogical strategy that has remained virtually unchanged in architecture education for more than a century. To forward Taubman’s goal of more realistically paralleling contemporary professional practice, studio work is being integrated into other required courses; various areas of expertise (history, structures, urban planning) are being integrated into the studio; and design studios are being paired with courses in other areas of concentration — a structures course or a structures seminar, for example.

And the students seem to agree with this tactic. Among students who took a separate DesignIntelligence survey, 90 percent of University of Michigan attendees indicated a belief that they’ll be well prepared upon graduation, with 96 percent giving the quality of their program an A (excellent) or B (above average).

Michigan is not alone among the rising stars of graduate education. Of the 20 top-ranked M.Arch. programs, seven schools improved their position this year: Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis, Southern California Institute of Architecture, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Syracuse University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Each year in connection with the Best Schools survey, DesignIntelligence conducts a parallel survey of architecture deans and department heads to assess opinions about their own and peer institutions. It is telling that this year the deans’ five most admired M.Arch. programs are the same top five chosen by practitioners, albeit in a slightly altered ranking: Harvard University, Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan.

Analysis and planning

1University of Michigan
2Harvard University
3Cornell University
4Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
5Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5Yale University

Communication

1Harvard University
2University of Michigan
3Yale University
4Cornell University
5Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Computer applications

1Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2Southern California Institute of Architecture
3University of Michigan
4Columbia University
5Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Construction methods and materials

1California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
2Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
3University of Michigan
4Lawrence Technological University
4University of Kansas

Design

1Harvard University
2Southern California Institute of Architecture
3University of Michigan
4Cornell University
5Yale University

Research and theory

1Harvard University
2University of Michigan
3Columbia University
3Yale University
5University of California at Berkeley
5Cornell University

Sustainable design practices and principles

1University of Oregon
2University of Michigan
3University of California at Berkeley
4Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
5Auburn University

-Architectural Record: 2011 America’s Best Architecture Schools

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Categories: Academia

Author:jonbailey

studying: architecture design

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