July 28, 2007
by Canadian Architect
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved the creation of a new professional Master of Architecture degree at the University of Memphis. The program will accept its first students in the fall of 2008 and award its first degrees in the spring of 2010.
The University will seek accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the sole accrediting agency for professional degree programs of architecture in the United States.
The unique nature of the Master of Architecture degree will enable the U of M to address a variety of issues facing the region through expanded, interdisciplinary research and engaged scholarship. “This degree is based on what is known as a 4 + 2 program”, explained Michael Hagge, director of the University’s architecture program, “It will offer people with a pre-professional degree in architecture an accredited professional degree in two years and build upon the capacities and qualities of our existing Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture degree.”
The M.Arch degree will focus on “city building” by bringing together architecture, city planning, and real estate students and faculty. The new degree will enable the architecture program to expand its existing research and practice in partnership with the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and the Henry Turley Residency at the University.
Also, students’ work is expected to expand on the work of the existing Center for Sustainable Design and the FedEx Institute of Technology, both at the University.
The University’s existing undergraduate architecture program has received attention around the region for its community involvement and innovative approaches. Faculty and students worked on the design and construction documents for a sustainable design demonstration house in Uptown Memphis that will be a model of a resource-efficient private residence.
Architecture students also have the opportunity to live in Architecture House at the University, a living-learning environment for architecture students who live together in University housing that includes not only residential space, but a design studio and instructional areas. Last semester, four architecture classes worked on projects in the University District, such as new types of student housing and a detailed plan for the future design of the U of M’s Park Avenue Campus.
In announcing the approval of the new graduate program, U of M President Shirley Raines said, “The Master of Architecture degree is now a reality at the University of Memphis, based on the recommendation of the Tennessee Board of Regents and the approval today from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The professional degree has been supported by local architects, developers, and city and regional planners, and the quality of our faculty was lauded in the reports by the consultant from the University of Texas.
“As undergraduates, many of the architecture students at the University of Memphis win awards for their designs. Now, these talented students can pursue the professional master’s degree. We look forward to admitting the first students in the fall of 2008.”
Memphis is one of the largest cities in the nation without a professional architecture degree program in the city or in close proximity. The nearest master of architecture program is at Washington University in St. Louis, a private university. The nearest public school offering a master of architecture degree is in Louisiana, and the only other architecture program in Tennessee is at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, which offers both the professional Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degrees.
“Memphis has a large and talented group of architects who work on projects all over the nation,” said Frank Ricks, managing partner of Looney Ricks Kiss Architects and chair of the U of M Architecture Program Advisory Board. “It will be a great boost to us to have this kind of academic resource in our own back yard. Until now, students graduating from the U of M have most often left the state to earn the professional degree, and most have not returned to Memphis.”
More information about the Master of Architecture Degree is available by phone at 901.678.2677 or via e-mail at [email protected]