Special Report: Architecture Education Now

James Cramer’s Gentle Manifesto to Improve Architecture Education

By James P. Cramer

As we know, the nature of architectural practice is changing, and architecture education must keep up with the profession. Below are key points that I would suggest be considered by architecture schools, based on research undertaken by DesignIntelligence and the Design Futures Council.

1. Institute a program for faculty and staff that updates them continuously on the latest A/E/C industry information, including business metrics, technical research, materials breakthroughs, and professional compensation.

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2. Teach business leadership and communication skills in addition to design.

3. Make metrics in finance, marketing, professional
services, and operations part of studio projects.

4. Incorporate into teaching on-site supervisory experience, cost analysis, fee adjustments, and other business practices, along with day-to-day project management.

5. Create social and intellectual programs outside the classroom that will build bridges between the profession and education.

6. Special lecture programs should involve not only the best talents in design but those in business as well. Lecturers should talk candidly about budgets, profits, strategic planning, and fees.

7. The profession should bring educators into architectural practices as paid advisers on policy, technology, and related matters. There needs to be more interaction between professors and professional practitioners.

8. Every firm should donate a percentage of its annual profit to a college program of its choice. The profession
should make a financial commitment to educating the next generation.

9. Architecture programs should provide older and tenured faculty members opportunities to reenergize themselves through a 12-to-24-month exchange program among schools.

10. Since challenging the tenure system may be a losing battle, teaching quality can be bolstered by establishing a system of incentives. The profession should support this with endowments, chairs, and grants.

11. Architecture-school facilities should be designed to inspire students, and be well maintained and provided with the latest tools and technology.

12. Online learning must have a legitimate role as an option in architecture education. Educational institutions should enable nonaccredited degree graduates to gain the credits they need to qualify for licensure.

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