Barnard + Columbia Colleges Architecture Program

Karen Fairbanks, Architecture Department Chair

A liberal arts education in Architecture holds a unique position in academia and in relation to the discipline.  The purpose of an undergraduate liberal arts education is to educate students to think about and through architecture—to use architecture as a lens to learn about the world. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture enables students to weave together the continuously evolving landscape of architecture and broader design practices with a variety of related disciplines.

The Undergraduate Architecture Major establishes an intellectual context for students to interpret the relation of form, space, program, materials and media to human life and thought. Through the Architecture curriculum, students participate in the ongoing shaping of knowledge about the built environment and learn to see architecture as one among many forms of cultural production. At the same time, the Major stresses the necessity of learning disciplinary-specific tools, methods, terms and critiques. Thus, work in the studio, lecture or seminar asks that students treat architecture as a form of research and speculation which complements the liberal arts mission of expansive thinking.

The Architecture curriculum introduces design at a variety of scales, taking the position that design thinking is effective and necessary at any scale. Students make full-scale models of small objects and small-scale models of urban conditions, from which they extract, interpret and invent new possibilities of inhabitation and use. Our curriculum balances the traditions of handcrafted representation with evolving digital technologies of architectural design and communication. Students are exposed to the complexity of social, political and environmental aspects of architectural design and urbanism.  Coursework explores how local and global concerns are linked in the contemporary and increasingly urban world.