peter finger
Architecture students spend countless hours honing their skills.

About 80 additional graduate students earn an M.Arch I professional degree, which takes three and a half years to complete. "The beauty of this degree is these students earned undergraduate degrees in a variety of academic disciplines," McDonald says. "We have graduate students from fine arts, liberal arts, and engineering backgrounds—the three prongs of architecture—working as teaching assistants and bringing very different points of view to the classroom."
      Aerating the entire architecture program—with more courses in the humanities, more electives, and more varied architectural points of view—is Abbey's agenda priority. "Bruce Abbey opened up the intellectual spectrum and created more of a forum for discussion," McDonald says. "A wider range of people makes for more stimulating discussion."
      Korman sees Abbey as a natural successor to Seligmann. "He studied under Werner at Cornell, and he respects Werner's affinity for European culture," Korman says. "But he is also broadening the canvas to include even more viewpoints and more emphasis on issues of American urbanism."

      When the School of Architecture held a gala celebration for its 125th anniversary in November, there was much to celebrate. The current first-year class of 116 students was much larger than anticipated, because 40 percent of the accepted students enrolled—instead of the expected 30 percent. "Right now, I think people are very optimistic about architecture in general and this program in particular," Abbey says.

      The program's popularity is also enhanced by the visibility of its graduates, "who are our best billboards," Korman says. "There's a joke that the huge firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill should change its name to Syracuse, Owings and Merrill, because it has so many Syracuse graduates in influential positions."
      One of the school's most high-profile—and prolific-graduates is Bruce Fowle '60, a principal with Fox & Associates in New York City, the firm designing the Conde Nast and Reuters buildings, the first two skyscrapers to be built in Manhattan in 10 years. "SU's program is as good as any in the country, with its design emphasis, high level of critique, and strength in technology," says Fowle, who chairs the school's advisory board. "Syracuse students have a wonderful sense of history and tradition. Their work is not so stylized that it's out of fashion by the time they graduate. They are taught to write and to communicate. We have three or four SU graduates in our firm. You know if they make it through SU, they're very good."
      Ken Schwartz, who taught at SU in the eighties before serving as chair and associate dean of the University of Virginia's School of Architecture, believes "Syracuse is perceived as one of the strongest undergraduate programs in the country, with a strong graduate component. It has a totally dedicated faculty, an extraordinary work ethic, and a great spirit. Its stature has increased progressively over the past 25 years, and it has an excellent reputation among serious architecture offices in the Northeast."
                       courtesy of fox & associates
An illustration of the Conde Nast Building in New York City, designed by Bruce Fowle '60.
      But Dean Abbey is less concerned with accolades than with the challenges ahead. "Our students are here to acquire an education in addition to a professional degree," he says. "That means we have to prepare them to be comfortable on a muddy job site and in the midst of a metaphysical discourse on the philosophy of a building. And that means this school has a lot to deliver."

      "The whole process builds a lot of self-respect," says Pell, who is now employed with Asfour Guzy Architects in New York City. "Every year you're in school the workload gets harder. But every year you have more knowledge and more skills to work with."
      The pressure is not as intense as it sounds, Pell says. "The design studio becomes the community center. The environment becomes very cooperative, and social relationships develop. If you've never been in the studio past midnight or 1 a.m., you've missed most of the social exchange."
      Professor Christopher Gray, chair of the undergraduate program, says the students work "at least as hard as medical students, and they maintain that pace for five years."
      The program's intensity reflects the wide-ranging skills that architecture requires, Gray says. "This is an education with a specific purpose. Our graduates must be accomplished in literate, numeric, and visual media. They must be creative and artistic. They must be aware of the social sciences. They must be technologically skilled, and they must be comfortable engaging in philosophical discussions. It's a heavy load, but these students are high achievers. Many of them rank among the top 10 in their high school classes."
      Alumni from generations past are amazed by the work ethic of today's students. "We worked hard, but we didn't work this hard," marvels Anne Chaintreuil '71, president of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the licensing organization for architects, and a principal of Macon Chaintreuil Jensen & Stark in Rochester and Buffalo.
      "I remember working at fever-pitch to complete projects," adds Beth Duncan '38. "But when we go back for reunions, my classmates and I wonder if we could even get into the school today. And if we did get in, we wonder if we could graduate."

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Main Home Page Winter 1998-99 Issue Contents
Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks In Basket
Pan Am 103 Architecture at 125 Inventive Minds
Multi-Majors Quad Angles Campaign News
Student Center Faculty Focus Research Report
Alumni News/Notes View From The Hill University Place

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