Can We Educate Architects to Design the Future?

By Kira L. Gould posted 01-04-2021 05:36 PM


Can We Educate Architects to Design the Future?  

By Kira Gould | Buildings & Cities 

Significant change is needed if schools of architecture are to have a role in transforming profession, providing students with appropriate competences, and serving the needs of civil society. This piece is a commentary on the Buildings & Cities special issue, Education and Training: Mainstreaming Zero Carbonedited by Alison Kwok, FAIA, and Fionn Stevenson. It is also a call to action. 

Many urgent changes will need to happen within professional architectural practice, as well as well beyond it, if meaningful progress is to be achieved in meeting the Paris Agreement and other critical climate targets. Education is one of these areas. Architectural education in the US has lagged on integrating climate and emissions questions into design, despite some shifts within individual departments and some innovative studios. At present, there is no requirement for schools of architecture to ensure competence in climate mitigation or adaptation.  

It is time for NAAB to provide leadership on climate action. This will require AIA members and the AIA and COTE itself to increase the pressure on both NAAB and schools to evolve. And perhaps pressure from other quarters will continue to grow as well. The US Federal government itself may need to ask NAAB (and other accreditation bodies for related sectors) to raise these standards as a matter of urgency. This pressure, regardless of its sources, is recommended and needs to occur across four fronts: embed sustainability in design; transform studios; teach collaboration; and retool the faculty for leadership.