Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Bruce Lindsey, Dean of the College and Graduate School of Architecture, and Aly Abrams from the Washington University in St. Louis Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts for lunch and conversation. After we had presented a selection of Fox’s recent and ongoing projects, Bruce gave an update on the school, inviting our comments and suggestions.
For the many alumni in the office, it was a chance to reconnect with our alma mater and hear about the new programs that Bruce has been assembling as head of the school. In his five-year tenure as dean, he has overseen the expansion of the graduate school’s Master of Architecture degree program and the addition of a Master of Landscape Architecture program. The new MLA degree is the first of its kind to be offered in Missouri. The undergraduate program has also seen changes. A new Bachelor of Design degree includes core studios that are shared by art and architecture students, new interdisciplinary courses, and a broader approach to design thinking. The College of Architecture is also expanding its involvement in the St. Louis community with new design-build studios and opportunities for students to teach design to elementary and middle school children.
The conversation also included a discussion on how architecture schools can best prepare future architects for the challenges they will face. Since the profession is always changing through the introduction of new digital design tools, construction processes, and project delivery options, schools must regularly update their offerings so that students are exposed to current trends in the profession before arriving in a firm. Yet, it remains essential for every architect to learn how to think critically, to be able to develop elegant and effective solutions to problems no matter what tools are used, and to communicate those solutions to others. While spending the university years becoming adept in Revit may prepare students to contribute to a firm’s work immediately after graduation, such an education may not sustain them in a lifelong career.
This conversation did not yield any solutions, but it demonstrated the complexity of architectural education – which in itself is beneficial. A robust understanding of the problem is the first step toward a solution. This understanding is best achieved by collecting and integrating a variety of perspectives. We at Fox look forward to continued dialogue with Bruce and the Sam Fox School. With the collaboration of school administration, students, recent graduates, and established professionals, we can all find ways to better serve the St. Louis community.