Cornell’s undergraduate architecture program has once again been named the nation’s best by DesignIntelligence, a monthly architecture publication. The magazine, which releases its survey of America’s Best Architecture Schools survey annually, polled several highly accredited architecture firms, which felt that Cornell’s undergrad program “best prepared students for today’s real-world practice.”
This marks the third straight year that Cornell has received the top spot in the rankings and the sixth time since the survey began in 2000.
The five-year architecture program has been recognized for years as one of the nation’s most prestigious. Arthur Ovaska, director of undergraduate programs, said that the program’s demanding nature is what makes it stand apart.
“It’s a very rigorous program; much more rigorous than many others in terms of requirements,” he said.
Others point to the program’s teaching philosophy as a source of strength. While some universities’ architecture programs use a more computer-oriented methodology, Cornell’s remains rooted in a more fundamental approach to architecture.
“Students are asked to think critically. We try to teach the computer as another tool. The school does a good job of teaching you to think without the computer. Cornell produces critical thinkers who come up with diverse solutions to problems that are cutting edge,” said teaching associate Adam Greene ’06.
“We also have very dedicated teaching faculty,” Ovaska said. “At many other schools there’s a large percentage of the faculty that is part-time, and that, partially due to location, is not possible here.”
The students themselves point to their peers and the strong bonds that form over the course of their time in the program.
“The atmosphere of the studio is amazing,” said Hannah Toering ’11.
“You get to know everyone really well,” Kirk Finkel ’11 added. “You sit in the studio and look around, and these are some of the best possible architects in the country. It’s very exciting.”
In spite of this success, the department is always striving to improve itself and advance the study of architecture.
“We’re working ourselves all the time to keep that number one ranking, not sitting down and resting on our laurels,” said Ovaska.