Raising the Stakes in Architecture Education
Architecture education is facing both great challenges and great opportunities.
Few moments elicit as much fear and trepidation in architecture school as the studio review or critique—the “crit”—where students’ designs are dissected, discussed, and—all too often—demeaned. A 2017 piece in The Guardian stated that the architecture crit is often “a nightmare … an emotional and theatrical assault course all architecture students have to get through.” Do they, though?
Emotionally draining crits are just one aspect of traditional architecture education currently being pinned to the wall and reviewed. Often, architecture students leave school saddled with huge debts just to enter a profession where the work they are asked to do is far different than what their professors taught, and for far less pay than they might have received in a comparably licensed field such as medicine or law.
As a result, a significant percentage of trained architects leave the profession after a few years or never get licensed. Untold numbers of others, particularly women and people of color, face barriers related to finances, work-life balance, and discrimination that prevent them from entering the profession in the first place. Compounding the problem is the fact that architecture itself faces challenges with regard to competition, automation, and complex environmental issues such as climate change.
AIA and the other collateral architecture organizations (American Institute of Architecture Students, National Architectural Accrediting Board, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) met in Chicago in July to address a revamp of the accreditation process and a formation of new task forces. What they accomplish in the coming years could have long and wide-ranging impacts on the future of the profession.