School of Architecture

The School of Architecture is devoted to professional education with a sensibility honed in the edge conditions of an extreme climate on a major international border. Located in the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the United States, the School combines a culturally rich past with cutting-edge environmental research in its place-based design approach to the arid environment.          

Our pedagogy is specifically grounded in four propositions:

  • The making of architecture is a sensible technical and aesthetic activity that serves the needs of human shelter.
  • The construction of shelter is an imaginative cultural research that enables dwelling as a fundamental human aspiration and means to a graceful life.
  • This pursuit must be inflected by place, the geography of Arizona, and the culture of the Southwest.
  • The design for place must be influenced by a portable global sensibility, yet observant of local traditions, tempered by material circumstances, and expressive of the ethos of time and place.

The architecture curriculum at Arizona is an ensemble of four subject matters: technology, theory and history, communication methods, and professional practice, all of which must be articulated and integrated as appropriate to each level of the architectural studio sequence.

  • Technology focuses on the realities of site, climate, and material resources.  Familiarity with the local geography, traditional materials, and conservation practices, as well as inventive experimentation with and testing of new materials and methods of energy conservation are critical factors in the design of a well-tempered architecture.
  • Theory and history examine architecture as a sensual and intelligent expression of culture.  A liberal but well-focused survey analyzing functional and aesthetic continuities in buildings, cities, and landscapes as well as revisions over time and space is necessary for the preservation of and innovation in architecture.
  • Communication methods developed through drawing, modeling, detailing, and oral or written descriptions are critical tools in the creative process.  They are also means ofeffective interaction with clients, material fabricators, members of the construction trades, and ultimately the users of architecture.
  • The practice of architecture is an ethical act in service of human needs, in compliance with and reform of technical protocols and building codes, and in interaction with the construction trades.  In addition to required instruction in these topics, hands-on experience in design/build collaborative projects is an effective introduction to this practice.
  • The architectural studios are organized in a progressive thematic sequence that serves as a scaffolding for the whole curriculum:  foundation, ergonomics, programming, land ethic, tectonics, systems, urban form, research options, and capstone.