Architects are facing a conundrum. The built environment is responsible for a large share of energy — it accounts for about 40% of global energy use. It emits 30% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions — making steel and concrete generates around 8% of the world’s anthropogenic carbon-dioxide emissions — on top of generating waste and using natural resources.
Yet, they are set to do more of this. They are building for a future where 68% of the world’s population will dwell in cities in 2050, an increase from the current figure that hovers around 50% today. They have to build more homes, roads and other infrastructure. In some countries, entire cities the size of Chicago are expected to be built to provide enough housing.
Their task is to achieve both without destroying the planet to a point of no return. The solution? Designing and building in a greener, more equitable and sustainable manner. A Master of Architecture is a prerequisite in this mission and these universities offer the best in the US:
Roger Williams University: School of Architecture
Few Master of Architecture programmes in the US prepare students for professional success as effectively as the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University. Here, a paid internship or assistantship is guaranteed — for each and every M.Arch student in this NAAB-accredited and STEM-designated programme. Every semester, studios are taught by a Teaching Firm in Residence, comprising a group of lead architects from a top firm in Boston, New York, or throughout the Northeast US — an initiative unique to the university.
On campus, students get to work with individual Samsung flat-panel monitors, coupled with anytime access to the latest versions of software and advanced applications (including AutoCAD, Revit, Rhino, Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, among many others). Off campus, study abroad opportunities let them travel to China’s frenetic capital Beijing with its fantastic new sculptural monuments or Barcelona with the genius of Gaudi dotted around the Catalan capital.
A RWU educational journey extends far beyond the walls of a traditional classroom. With the Career Investment Programme — until recently, the only programme in the US offering this kind of opportunity for all students — it can take one on internships as far as Safdie Architects in Shanghai, Wodiczko + Bonder in Cambridge and HOK in New York. These research and professional experiences are not just compensated, but, more importantly, compelling.
A location in Bristol, Rhode Island — one of the busiest architectural corridors in the US between Boston and New York City — allows RWU to offer such dynamic opportunities. As students explore the quintessential New England town of Bristol that RWU calls home — with unique shops, waterfront dining and galleries, plus miles of bike paths and Colt State Park close by — they are close to some of the most enviable career opportunities in the country. They have unparallelled access to hundreds of architecture firms throughout the region — the doors of which are opened by the Career Investment Programme.
University of Florida: School of Architecture
Florida is set for rapid growth, that will take place within sensitive natural ecologies, fluctuating tourism, humid and hot climate, and extensive coastal hurricane threats, among others. It will face this as it becomes host to the third largest population in the US.
The School of Architecture at the University of Florida is in a unique position to respond to these challenges. It has, to its advantage, studio-based design methodologies in collaboration with a new generation of experts in engineering, ecology, business, anthropology, energy, fine arts, medicine and construction.
Leading it is a team of faculty members and students, who have garnered international, national, state and local design awards. They publish regularly and secure national, state and local grant funding for research-based service learning and design projects.
Enrolling in a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) here entails benefiting from the above features and more. Students will earn a professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the educational credentials you need for licensure as a registered architect in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Study abroad opportunities to East Asia and Mexico are also available.
Three curricular tracks are offered for the first-professional NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture degree to cater to those with or without a pre-professional degree, as well as those with an accredited professional degree.
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Offering undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programmes, SCI-Arc is strategically housed in the historic Santa Fe Freight Depot located in the Arts District of Los Angeles. Surrounding it are architectural landmarks such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chinatown and the Mayan Theatre; on campus, it’s an integrated suite of resources that support academic progress and experimentation.
Here, students gain exposure to artists, practitioners, historians, theorists, and even film stars. They are trained not just to be architects, but to push boundaries as designers and problem solvers at large. Following in the footsteps of Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci and Pritzker Prize laureate Hans Hollein, SCI-Arc graduates are recognised for their interdisciplinarity across arts and science.
SCI-Arc offers two NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture (M.Arch) programmes. M.Arch 1 is open to applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in any field of study. You will gain the intellectual foundation, design expertise, and technical skillset necessary for the professional practice of architecture.
M.Arch 2 is designed for applicants who have obtained a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, or a Bachelor of Architecture. You will build upon previous architectural education using contemporary tools and techniques that expand their experience in digital design, conceptualisation, and fabrication. Both master’s degrees fuse an open-ended spirit of inquiry with encouragement to respond to shifts in society, technology, and culture.
University of Texas at Austin: School of Architecture
Students at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA) are uniquely positioned to gain first-hand experience with a rapidly growing and changing built environment. UTSOA is part of one of the world’s leading public research universities with over 170 fields of study, providing a ripe environment for multidisciplinary learning. Its setting? Austin, Texas, a fast-growing US city with a faster growing creative community and entrepreneurial spirit.
As for the programmes, they value intellectual ambition and cultural relevance in architectural production. You can expect an integrated, close-knit design studio model where dialogue, collaboration, and risk-taking are encouraged.
Since its founding in 1909, UTSOA has been one of the most distinguished schools of architecture in the country. In the 2016-17 DesignIntelligence survey, it was ranked sixth for its undergraduate architecture programme and 12th for its graduate architecture programme.
UTSOA offers a Master of Architecture that fulfills the professional degree requirements for registration as an architect. It’s designed for two categories of applicants: those entering either with no academic training in architecture or a four-year bachelor’s “pre-arch” degree and who wish to enter the profession of architecture. The programme includes an optional Certificate of Specialization in Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design, Urban Design, as well as an optional, transcriptable Graduate Certificate in Latin American Architecture.
*Some of the schools featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International