Review team gives grad and undergrad
architecture programs glowing reviews


Three degree programs at Texas A&M's College of Architecture were described as "world class" by an external review team this fall, but the group cautioned that appropriate funding to retain that status was critical.

"The university administration has to understand that you can't be world-class today with yesterday's budget," said review team leader Walter Grondzik, professor of architecture at Ball State University, during a Nov. 10, 2010 public gathering at Langford Architecture Center where the group shared its findings.

Joining Grondzik in reviewing three of the department's degree programs, the Bachelor of Environmental Design, Master of Science in Architecture and Ph.D in Architecture, were”

  • David Allison, professor of architecture at Clemson University and director of Graduate Studies in Architecture and Health;
  • Martin Gold, associate professor of architecture, University of Florida and
  • Michael Tomlan, professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University and director of its Historic Preservation Planning Program.

These university-mandated independent reviews target programs that, unlike the department’s Master of Architecture program, are not reviewed by outside accrediting agencies.

"It's one way for programs to look introspectively at what they do and how they do it," said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the college, as he introduced the review team. "It's a very good thing to have these very high caliber people look at our program in an objective way."

BED review

Gold described the department's use of the integrated studio concept as a shining star in the BED program.

"I want to congratulate you on taking what is a difficult challenge — how do you take 135 credit hours and turn it into 120 — and improve the curriculum in the process?"

It's a profound example, he said, of everyone working together and getting the right expertise into a bachelor of environmental design program.

"The integrated studio bridges research expertise with your design synthesis and is a model for how to look at other parts of the program," he said.

Gold said the review team identified aspects of the BED program the department might want to address, such as:

  • establishing a history/theory-oriented project in the program's third year and/or a theory class;
  • beginning to design buildings and architectural systems earlier in the program's first year;
  • encouraging and providing opportunities for \collaboration between BED and visualization students; and
  • possibly adding a course in construction methods and materials or more explicitly defining the topic within an integrated studio.

M.S. Architecture review

Allison said the team saw the Master of Science in Architecture program as having a fluid, dynamic and enthusiastic engagement with the college's senior research programs and faculty, as well as engagement with the BED program's integrated studios.

Areas within the master of science program identified by the review team for the department to address included:

  • reinforcing the program’s funding, and
  • emphasizing the program as adding focused expertise organized around the college's research centers and certificate programs, or as a nonprofessional offering for students in allied disciplines interested in working in the realm of the built environment who need to build and reinforce expertise in architecture.

Ph.D. Architecture review

Tomlan praised resources available through the college for students working on a doctorate degree in architecture.

"In addition to the range of personnel here, there's also been the development of the center concept and academic concentrations," he said. “You can immediately see advanced students finding a home in these centers within those concentrations, and that's all positive."

He stressed the importance of hiring midcareer architecture faculty to provide guidance for the program's Ph.D students in the near term.

"You have the parts in place today to succeed at a high level, " said Grondzik in his conclusion. "Those parts may not be adequate to do what you need to do 10 years from now, in fact they likely won't be. Hopefully the university administration will be aware of that, understand that, and respond to that."

The Department of Architecture’s other degree offering, the Master of Architecture program, receives accreditation from the National Council of Architectural Accrediting Board, which last visited in 2008. At the end of that review process, Kevin Montgomery, leader of the five-person NAAB accreditation team also gave a glowing report on the M. Arch program saying, "the quality of the education and the credentials, are second to none.”


- Posted: Nov. 29, 2010 -

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Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, or 979.458.0442.


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