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Schools of Architecture and Design Are Not All Alike!
Wednesday, April 06, 2011


When considering architectural and design education, it is important to know that schools are not all alike. There are accredited and non-accredited schools, public and private schools, and schools with very different teaching and learning philosophies.

For example, there are over 250 members of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) in North America. They encompass both National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited and non-accredited schools. Among accredited schools, there are distinct differences.

The largest category of schools is comprised of research-oriented programs. These schools generally have a high percentage of full-time vs. adjunct faculty members. A high proportion of full-time faculty members hold Ph.D. or professional doctorate degrees. These schools excel in faculty and graduate student research, and they emphasize graduate student enrollment.

The second largest group is represented by practice-oriented programs. These schools typically have a high proportion of practitioner faculty members. Many have a high percentage of adjunct faculty members who also practice professionally. The chief mission of these schools is, most typically, to prepare students for professional practice. These programs may be either undergraduate or graduate-oriented.

A third and much smaller group of architecture programs are art-oriented.  They reside in a college with a fine arts tradition. Design form-making is at the core of these schools studio work. A fourth and even smaller group can be described as niche schools. These schools, while often NAAB accredited for their general curriculum, emphasize a special theory, philosophy or practice area. This niche may center on an iconic architectural figure or a range of practice areas, such as historicism, new urbanism, or urban design.

Lawrence Tech is proud of its standing as a strong practice-oriented school. In addition to preparing students for the profession, the school has a reputation as a technological leader. Our full-time and adjunct faculty has a high percentage of teachers engaged in professional practice, as well as an unusually high number of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. We have typically ranked high in the United States with alumni passing their architectural registration exam. In the latest Design Intelligence Survey, we ranked fourth among North American schools in the teaching of methods and materials of design and construction. As we move forward, we will continue to prepare students who are not only competent in design and technology, but who will also emerge as the practice leaders of the 21st Century.

The 2011 Architectural Research Consortium Conference
Monday, March 07, 2011


Architects intrinsically believe that they are members of a learned, knowledge-based profession.  That was the original rationale that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) used when it instituted its continuing education system. But to truly be “knowledge based,” a profession must also have a primary research orientation. Certainly the AIA and its College of Fellows practice what they preach by funding professional and academic research efforts. Many schools of architecture have formed vibrant research centers.

The Architectural Research Centers Consortium, Inc. (ARCC) is an international association of architectural research centers, composed mostly of schools of architecture. They are committed to expanding the research culture in architecture and its related design disciplines. The ARCC is dedicated to expanding the knowledge base of the profession, and a recent survey of members has identified over $21 million in research funding in a variety of design and technology related topics.

On April 20th-24th, Lawrence Technological University is proud to host of the ARCC’s 2011 Research Conference. It will take place in Downtown Detroit in the Harmonie Park area. This location will provide for a "campus" approach to the conference, with a lecture hall, presentation rooms, restaurants, accommodations and entertainment all within a few blocks of each other. It will expose a side of Detroit not presented in the media.


Reflecting upon current themes in Architectural Research

The conference will include 68 presentations of current research in architecture, as well as four keynote speakers (Alan Berger, Nina Maritz, Kathryn Moore, and Arjen Oosterman. The presentations will be representative of 57 universities and research centers from 21 countries, and attendees will be able to enjoy many diverse conversations both formally and informally. AIA Continuing Education learning units (Sustainable Design and Health, Safety and Welfare) will be provided. On Thursday night, the keynote presentation will take place at Lawrence Tech, and it is open to the general public and the profession


This is a unique opportunity to gain continuing education learning units and meet with a diverse group of scholars engaged in architectural research. Members of the profession are invited to attend, and there are single day packages available.


For registration information, visit


Transportation Design
Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Last  January 9th, The Main Event, a mixer and celebration for automotive designers and executives from around the world took place in conjunction with the North American Auto Show in Detroit. What was surprising to many, however, was that the event was organized by, co-sponsored by and featured the work of Lawrence Tech’s Transportation Design program. The program’s work on display at the Auto Show was also the subject of a significant January 10th New York Times blog from the auto show titled “A Higher Profile for Lawrence Tech.”

The transportation design program’s success is far from “fly by night.” It has been carefully conceived and orchestrated over the last five years. At that time, representatives from the automotive industry approached Lawrence Tech about the potential for developing a new type of transportation design program. Students would not only be expected to be highly skilled artists, but they would also gain knowledge in automotive engineering and applied automotive technologies. The goal was to develop a highly skilled cadre of professionals that could bridge the gap between design and technology and, hopefully, reduce the time to market during the design process.

Under the direction of Professor Keith Nagara, the success of this program has been outstanding. The industry has supported the program through sponsored projects, and the first group of students will graduate this May. As they have moved through the program, they have collectively won several national and international awards. They have been published in numerous industry publications, and their work has been exhibited at the Detroit and Paris Auto Shows, as well as a high profile exhibition in Shanghai. Most significantly, and the true test of the program’s success, is that all graduating students have gained internships in the profession from international and national companies such as: Volkswagen in Wolsburg, Germany; Peugeot in Paris; Nissan Design Europe in London; and domestic companies like Chrysler, Ford, and RTT.

With several notable transportation design programs in the United States and internationally, Lawrence Tech has relatively quickly assumed its role as one of the pre-eminent programs in this high profile field.

makeLab: tangibly linking theory and practice
Monday, January 17, 2011


A new fabrication lab at the College of Architecture and Design has galvanized a significant portion of the student body, as well as provided visible evidence of students’ skills in digital fabrication.  The lab, operating under the moniker of makeLab, utilizes parametric design software and a 3-axis CNC machine to engage students in a process of “design and making.”  This allows students to make accurate cuts and “sculpt” a variety of materials in length, width and depth. Students have created a variety of products and installations, which are now displayed in the corridors and public spaces of the College. Students have expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about the creation of the lab, declaring it to visibly demonstrate the concept of ‘theory and practice.”

 Visitors to the College are welcome to view the operation of makeLab and the CNC machine through a viewing portal. The lab is located on the ground floor of the Architecture Building. The installations created by students participating in makeLab are currently on display throughout the building.

For more information on makeLab, including student blogs, you may go to the Lawrence Tech website at the following:

or visit


A. Alfred Taubman and Land Economics
Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Over the fall 2010 semester, we have had the distinct honor of working with legendary developer, A. Alfred Taubman, on our graduate elective course: Real Estate Practice, Land Economics. Mr. Taubman, along with Lawrence Tech alumni Ron Loch and Jeff Boes from the Taubman Company, and a number of other lecturers have exposed students to a variety of decision processes, analytical techniques, and real world examples that developers confront in every day practice. 


Mr. Taubman and the other speakers have taught students about creating “100% locations,” maximizing the return on investment  through appropriate building and site planning, understanding and designing the perception of people and customers as they move through the built environment, and case studies on the “how and why” of successful developments. Mr. Taubman also invited internationally acclaimed architects, such as Michael Graves, Rafael Viñoly, Eugene Kohn, and Kenneth Walker, to address the class concerning their design approaches to private and public development.  Local architects James Ryan, Mark Farlow, Arthur Smith, and others added a regional design perspective.


A real joy of the course was getting to know Mr. Taubman better, particularly his sense of humor and his genuine warmth. He obviously cares deeply about architectural students, and he gave his time freely to increase their understanding of the course’s subject matter. When he told stories about his experiences, he portrayed insights into real estate development and life in general that few college courses can offer. As John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press writer put it, listening to Taubman lecture on real estate development “offered roughly the equivalent of learning music at the hand of Mozart.”

Interested in learning more about Mr. Taubman? See his website at:


Our Future in China
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It is clear that the 21st Century will be a time of vast change in the architectural and design professions. In discussions with the American Institute of Architects’ Large Firm Roundtable, several trends have been recognized. Firms are becoming larger, more multi-disciplinary, complex, and international. Many of the firms that have begun to emerge successfully from the recession have robust international practices, led by their work in Asia and the Middle East.


As a practice-oriented school, the College of Architecture and Design at Lawrence Tech has developed a wide range of activities with universities and firms in China. We are building a collaborative relationship with the Shanghai University of Engineering and Science’s School of Art and Design. In the past year, we have collaborated with them on a highly regarded international traveling design exposition and an interdisciplinary design studio. We have a cooperative educational agreement with Sichuan University. We are in the process of developing a strong relationship with Soochow University’s new school of architecture. Routinely, our students and faculty are engaged in educational programs in China, and Chinese students are studying in residence at Lawrence Tech. We see vast growth in our interuniversity alliances with Chinese design schools.


Next fall, we will initiate a new Global Architecture and Practice concentration in our Master of Architecture program. In this concentration, students will not only receive their accredited architectural master’s degree, but they will learn about international business through courses in our College of Management. Additionally, most of the students will receive an internship with a firm practicing overseas. It is anticipated that many of these positions will be with western firms practicing in China.


At Lawrence Tech, we prize agility. It is our time to seize the moment by engaging in the robust and growing nature of design practice in China, as well as in other countries with growing economies.