School of Architecture - Syracuse University


Founded in 1873, the Syracuse University School of Architecture consistently ranks among the best schools of architecture in the nation.

The reasons most often cited are our committed and diverse faculty, our number and variety of study abroad opportunities, and our nationally-accredited, professional degree programs, which provide students with the technical skill and the cultural knowledge necessary to practice in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

The studio experience, at the core of our programs, focuses on the intense exploration of the creative process, supported by the most challenging approaches to history and theory in the context of the technologies that inform the future of our field. The School provides a highly innovative environment for design education in which students benefit from extensive one-on-one communication with dedicated faculty in formal reviews and informal interactions.

To prepare students for a world shaped by globalization, the School of Architecture offers study abroad semesters in London and Florence at our University centers staffed by full time architecture faculty. Students also have the opportunity to spend a semester at the University’s Fisher Center in New York City, a state-of-the art facility opened in 2013. Shorter study abroad programs are available in locations such as Taiwan, Turkey, Japan, China, and India. The School also brings world-class practitioners and educators to teach and lecture at our home campus, as demonstrated by our visiting lecture series featuring renowned architects and designers, and our visiting critic program in which internationally recognized professors lead studios on campus.

Over the past decade, the practice of architecture has undergone dramatic change, placing the architect, once again, at the center of some of the most defining issues of our time. The School of Architecture has not only kept pace with these changes, but our faculty, staff, students, and alumni have led and continue to lead the effort to make a better world through the design of better buildings and cities. We invite you to visit and to join us.

Michael Speaks, Ph.D.

Dean, School of Architecture

School History

As one of the oldest programs in the U.S., Syracuse Architecture has grown from modest beginnings to become a national leader in educating future architects.

The School has a rich and distinguished history, beginning in 1873, three years after Syracuse University was founded, when architecture was created as one of two new departments within the College of Fine Arts by George Comfort Fisk, dean of the new College of Fine Arts, who founded the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The department initially offered a four-year program leading to a bachelor of architecture degree, the first program of its kind in the country. Dean Fisk enlisted the services of professors from the painting department and the College of Liberal Arts. He also approached local architects such as Horatio Nelson White, Archimedes Russell, and Ward Wellington Ward, and asked them to teach architectural design – without pay. The reliance on local architects for free instruction continued well into the1900’s, in part due to thrift, but also as a standard practice modeled after the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, the world’s premiere architecture school. This alignment of the architecture department within the College of Fine Arts established a design focus that endures to this day. The first graduating classes in architecture were small, with 74 students earning degrees between 1900 and 1922. Frances Whipple Bigelow became the first female to graduate from the school in 1898. As the architecture program grew, it faced a constant challenge of finding adequate space. During its early years, the first home of the College of Fine Arts was in the Hall of Languages. It moved to the newly built Crouse College in 1883, then to Steele Hall in 1908, and finally to the newly designed, skylit Slocum Hall in 1919. Slocum was designed by Frederick Revels, an 1895 graduate of the College of Fine Arts who chaired the architecture department from 1902 until 1934, and Professor Earl Hallenback of the Class of 1897. Together, Revels and Hallenbeck designed a number of Syracuse University landmarks, including Carnegie Library, Archbold Stadium, and Bowne and Lyman halls.

During the post-World War I period, European modernism began to seep into American architecture schools. While Syracuse University acknowledged the trend, they continued to emphasize the teaching of more traditional, pragmatic styles. During this period the University realized that a four-year curriculum could not adequately equip an architect for practice. In 1934, Lemuel C. Dillenback was brought in from Columbia University to teach design. He soon became department chair, and under his leadership, a fifth year was added to the curriculum in the form of a thesis, which included construction drawings and specifications, with 184 credits required for graduation. In 1937 a graduate program in urban planning and research was established. The 1930’s and 1940’s marked the beginning of autonomy for the architecture program.

The school’s pragmatic tone was accentuated after World War II when 150 veterans flooded the program. Anxious to get on with their lives and careers, they were highly motivated and practical about their goals. In 1957, when Dillenback retired, Professor D. Kenneth “Doc” Sargent ’27 succeeded him, insisting on retaining the title and authority of dean. Thus the school became a separate entity from the College of Fine Arts. A prominent practitioner, Sargent began teaching in 1930 and profoundly influenced the program for the next forty years. Sargent placed a high value on professionalism, as well as on a broad liberal arts education. He believed that architects had to be well educated to become leaders, and during his time as dean, a six-year option was created that awarded the B. Arch and M. Arch degrees.

The late ’60s were years of student unrest on Syracuse campus that had its effect on the School of Architecture. In 1969, Sargent resigned as dean. He was succeeded by a series of acting and interim deans, and eventually by John Fisher who led the school as dean for only a few years. Werner Seligmann, an award-winning architect and authority on Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, was appointed dean in 1976, and set a clear course for the next dozen years. The school’s visibility and international reputation grew with the establishment of the visiting critics program, lectures and exhibition series, and the establishment of the Florence program in 1980. In the late ’80s, the school received an IBM grant for close to a half-million dollars allowing for the development of a multidisciplinary computer lab in Slocum. In 1990, Seligmann resigned as dean and returned to the faculty. The Florence program, often called “the jewel in the crown of the architecture curriculum,” continues to play a strategic role between the third and fifth years of undergraduate study. Bruce Abbey, former chair and associate dean at the University of Virginia, was named dean in 1990. Syracuse University, facing a major fiscal crisis created by demographic change, evaluated its programs and concluded that since the School of Architecture was a major center of quality, it deserved additional support. Salaries were raised, Slocum Hall upgraded, new computer facilities installed, and faculty research supported. Architecture students ranked with the best of those admitted by the University, and the hands-on-approach to teaching made the School a model for a student-centered research university. During his twelve-year tenure, Abbey expanded the architecture program through more courses in humanities, more electives, and encouragement of more varied architectural points of view.

In 2002, Abbey stepped down as dean to return to fulltime teaching. Professor Arthur McDonald led the school as interim dean for the next two years while a search was conducted for a new permanent dean.

Mark Robbins assumed the position of dean of the School of Architecture at Syracuse University in 2004. Under the leadership of Chancellor Nancy Cantor, the School and the University became significant forces in the city of Syracuse, helping to create a more urban campus and a denser city while inciting the exploration of the boundaries between the two. During this time, an associate dean and directors of development and communications positions were added to the administrative structure to serve the expanding needs of the school. In 2007, the Syracuse Architecture London program was launched at the University’s Farraday Center and, in 2009, the Syracuse Architecture program in New York City was introduced at a new studio space in mid-town Manhattan.

A five-year scholarship initiative to further the diversity of the student body was introduced as well as recruiting visits to in major metropolitan areas across the country that reinforced this initiative and expanded the School’s geographic draw. Partnerships were established with other centers at the university to support teaching and faculty research. In 2005, UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate was created within the School as a resource for the city, campus and region, providing a means by which architects, faculty, and students worked actual projects in Syracuse. Robbins stepped down as dean in 2012 and Professor Randall Korman served as interim dean from 2012 through 2013.

In 2013, Michael Speaks became the tenth dean of the School. He was previously dean of the College of Design at the University of Kentucky and is also the former director of the graduate program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. As a scholar and leader in design education, Michael emphasizes innovative approaches and interdisciplinary connections focused on real-world problem solving.

At Syracuse, he has developed a series of workshops at the newly launched Syracuse University Fisher Center in New York City called Design and Politics, introduced new post graduate study programs, and established ongoing collaborations with universities and government officials in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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Master of Architecture Professional Degree Program

Campus Full time 42 months August 2017 USA Syracuse

The Master of Architecture is a 110 credit 3 year first-professional degree program that aims to prepare future architects to provide leadership and vision in the construction of the physical environment, and to collaboratively draw upon and organize diverse professions and multiple technologies to expand the field of architectural design. [+]

The Master of Architecture is a 110 credit 3 year first-professional degree program that aims to prepare future architects to provide leadership and vision in the construction of the physical environment, and to collaboratively draw upon and organize diverse professions and multiple technologies to expand the field of architectural design. Research is an integral part of the M.Arch course of study, from first-year courses in design, theory, history, media, and technology, to the final semester’s directed research project. The program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and currently ranked #8 in the country by Design Intelligence. Our faculty members are recognized for their level of commitment to each student’s progress as well as their professional achievements. The faculty is comprised of published scholars, award-winning designers, funded researchers, and active professionals. Curriculum Studios in design and media, lecture courses and seminars in theory and history, and courses in structures and technology during the first three semesters of the M.Arch curriculum constitute the “core” of the program. The final four semesters, including a summer intensive term, offer distinct experiences. In the fourth semester, all students have the option to select from a range of studios taught by distinguished visiting professors. Students who have been awarded with advanced standing based on architectural study at the undergraduate level have the option of studying abroad at the University’s centers in Florence and London or at the University’s Fisher Center in New York City. In the summer of the second year, students can study at a summer intensive program in New York City or in one of our “Three Cities” global study programs. The design focus of the third year includes both our Integrative Studio, designed to synthesize knowledge garnered across the curriculum in a highly detailed building design, and a faculty directed research project defined and developed by the student in tandem with faculty advisors. A rich array of professional and history electives allows students to study specific topics in seminars and lecture courses. DIRECTED RESEARCH At Syracuse Architecture, the completion of a directed research project is required for award of the M.Arch degree. Students’ capstone experience in the M.Arch. degree embraces the complex multi-disciplinary nature of architectural projects in the 21st century by providing a framework for students to explore individual research + design interests around a series of topics supported by faculty expertise from across the university. Led by School of Architecture faculty, small groups of students working in these shared topic areas are given the opportunity to advance their work in the kinds of multi-disciplinary contexts and conversations that drive innovative practice today. Through the Directed Research experience, we seek to prepare students to seek, initiate, and lead these conversations upon graduation. Admissions The Master of Architecture is a first-professional program open to applicants with undergraduate degrees in any field. Students entering with degrees in architecture or environmental studies are eligible for up to one year of advanced standing in the program. Students in the M.Arch program are required to participate in full-time study and must enter the program during the fall semester. [-]


Post-Professional MS in Architecture Program

Campus Full time 2 - 3 semesters August 2017 USA Syracuse

The Syracuse Master of Science in Architecture program focuses on energy and the built environment with research + design projects ranging across many scales, from urban design to high performance buildings, from VR and computational simulation landscape urbanism to building material research and product design, and across a range of disciplinary and practice areas including adaptive re-use, real estate development and urban design planning. This 30-credit course of study can be completed in two or three semesters and admits students whose areas of interest can be matched with the expertise and ongoing research of the School’s faculty. [+]

DESIGN | ENERGY | FUTURES is a concentrated research + design program that leads to a post-professional Master of Science (MS) in Architecture. The program focuses on energy and the built environment with research + design projects ranging across many scales, from urban design to high performance buildings, from VR and computational simulation landscape urbanism to building material research and product design, and across a range of disciplinary and practice areas including adaptive re-use, real estate development and urban design planning. Students are directed for the duration of the program by faculty actively engaged in externally sponsored research and design projects, and have numerous opportunities for research internships in the faculty’s various research facilities. Coursework consists of two required studios, one of which is paired with a prototype thinking research seminar, and a series of electives meant to complement the design + research studio projects. Applicants holding a professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design or urban planning are encouraged to apply, though applicants in related disciplines such as management, engineering, geography, environmental, graphic or product design may also be admitted at the discretion of the admissions committee in consultation with program administrators. Please note that this program does not meet the licensure requirements to become an architect in New York and is not considered licensure qualifying in New York. APPLICATION PROCESS Apply to Syracuse University Graduate School On-line application is preferred. Application fee of $75. Deadline: January 20 (January 10 for SU African American Fellowship applicants) Submit a portfolio A portfolio of creative and/or professional work in architecture, the visual arts, and/or design is required as part of your application for graduate study at Syracuse Architecture. The purpose of the portfolio is to give evidence of promise and potential in architecture, as well as to give evidence of interests, skills, and talent. Please submit your portfolio online here, via Slide Room. There is a $6 submission fee. Deadline: January 20 (January 10 for SU African American Fellowship applicants) Personal statement of purpose Transcript(s) An official transcript from every college/university you have attended is required. Transcript request forms that can be mailed to prior institutions are included in the online application. Three letters of recommendation Individuals providing recommendations should be registered through the on-line application process to submit their letters of recommendation electronically. If this is not possible, a confidential letter of recommendation may be directed to the Graduate Admissions Processing Center in a sealed envelope with the person’s signature written across the seal of the envelope. [-]

Location address
201 Slocum Hall

Syracuse, New York, 13244 US