The 20th century architectural historian and preservationist James Marston Fitch wrote that great movements in architecture occur when theory, material and technique are aligned under the pressure of social change. Though he argues these moments are brief and delicate, such a moment indeed may be upon us.
At no time in the past has the way we design and construct buildings changed as quickly as it is now. With states and locales creating policy around theories of “new urbanism” and transit-oriented growth, we are poised to rethink the theory and fabric of our built landscape. New materials, new construction techniques and new software are shortening the design phases, integrating design and construction teams, and compressing construction periods. Finally, people are increasingly wanting to live in urban and semi-urban cores. Last century we became a suburban nation; this century we will become an urban nation. Combining these issues, we find the makings of one of Fitch’s brief and delicate moments; a moment when migration to the core and a focus on green solutions are mixed with a new view of cities and construction.
But there is an added challenge. Studies suggest large population growth in the U.S. and of course around the world. This growth will require housing, places for work, places to shop and infrastructure to support needs. At least one study suggests that 40 percent of buildings that will exist in 2030 do not yet exist.
Given these challenges and opportunities, what we build, how we build it, and where we build it are questions of great magnitude.
Stanford’s Architectural Design program is poised to tackle this challenge. We are located at the academic center of a great university, which is, in turn, at the innovative center of our nation. Bringing together the resources of the School of Engineering and reaching out to the broader university and community, the Architectural Design Program is leveraging our location to innovate a new kind of architecture education that will tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
The Stanford Architectural Design Program is determined to prepare students though scholarship, experience and leadership opportunities to understand the relationships between city, building and human experience and, as our mission states, recognize that in the end, architecture is about improving human lives.