D. Kenneth "Doc" Sargent '27, right, was involved in the architecture program for 40 years. He served as dean from 1958 to 1969.
Members of the 1961 architecture class discuss a project.
The school's pragmatic tone was accentuated after World War II, when 150 veterans flooded the program. "The veterans expanded the school and gave it a different character," Malo says. "They were anxious to get on with their lives and careersthey were highly motivated, and practical about their goals."|
Endorsing their sentiment was D. Kenneth "Doc" Sargent '27, a prominent practitioner who began teaching in 1930 and profoundly influenced the program for the next 40 years. "Sargent passionately believed that architecture was a profession that served society, like medicine," recalls Malo, who was a student and longtime colleague of Sargent. "Doc Sargent saw the physician, not the artist, as the ideal model for the architect."
These high expectations compelled Sargent, who served as dean of the by-now autonomous School of Architecture from 1958 until 1969, to add an optional sixth year of liberal arts to the architecture curriculum. According to Malo, Sargent believed this optional extra year would prepare graduates to take their rightful places "in circles of decision makers."
"Doc Sargent was the Harry Truman of the architecture world," remembers Bruce Fowle '60. "He was a plainspoken man who focused more on technology than design. When I graduated I knew a lot more about how to put a building together than my colleagues who had specialized in design."
Outside academic circles, Sargent was widely respected as a principal of Sargent, Webster, Crenshaw, and Folley, one of the largest architectural firms in the Northeast. But one of his partners, Frederick Webster '32, remembers Sargent as an educator at heart. "He wasn't in the office much. If there was a choice to be made between the practice and the school, he always chose the school."
SELIGMANN STEPS IN
Sargent resigned in 1969, and the tight-knit architecture programlike higher education in generalseemed to unravel during the next several years. But in 1976, Werner Seligmann, an award-winning architect and authority on Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, stepped into the dean's office and set a clear course for the next dozen years. Seligmann, who passed away in November, had taught at the University of Texas, ETH Zurich, Cornell, and Harvard, and his goal was to make Syracuse's program equally prestigious. Convinced that design was underemphasized, he increased the number of required design courses from 2 to 10.
"Werner was a force of nature; he had a profound effect on everyone he came in contact with," says Professor Randall Korman. "He put this school on the map. He was a confirmed modernist, but not an exclusivist. He had a deeply abiding sense of history and embraced a wide range of architects, from Michelangelo to Mies van der Rohe. He acknowledged the dichotomy between the tenets of modern architecture and the benefits of a traditional city, and challenged students to create modern buildings that were sympathetic to historic context."
In 1873, the challenge was to find a professor for every architecture course. Today's challenge, says School of Architecture Dean Bruce Abbey, is to find a computer for every architecture student. |
"We still start with pencils and T-squares, teaching the traditional methods of hand drawing, but then we move on to using computers," explains Christopher Gray, chair of the school's undergraduate program.
According to Professor Bruce Coleman, who teaches computers and technology, a massive computing transformation is under way in the profession and architecture schools. "Employers now demand that graduates be CAD (computer-aided design) proficient, not just CAD literate," he says. "They want people who can sit down and fly-graduates who can be 100 percent productive from day one. Professional expectations keep going up."
The School of Architecture's computer saga began in 1986, with one basic course and one PC. "The next year, some industrial-strength software was donated by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, one of the nation's largest architectural firms," reports Coleman. "SU provided a high-end workstation, and I introduced our first advanced computing class. There was a long learning curve, but the expertise gave us credibility with firms and other schools of architecture."|
In the late eighties, the school took a giant step forward with an IBM grant for close to a half-million dollars that allowed it to invest in 3 workstations, 10 PCs, and expensive software. "SU renovated rooms 107 and 109 in Slocum Hall for a multidisciplinary computer lab, and we were up and running," Coleman says. "In return, we helped IBM develop integrated software that could be used by architects, engineers, and related professionals."
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