Architect or urban planner: Build the perfect career path
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Architect or urban planner: Build the perfect career path

Architect or urban planner: Build the perfect career path

From 1970 to 2010, the urban population in the Middle East and North Africa quadrupled. By 2050, these regions will encompass about 400 million people. Since 1985, the urban population in China has increased 30-50 million annually. Today, more than 700 million of its citizens live in megacities and by 2050, this one country alone will add 255 million more urban dwellers.

Since 1880, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit), with two thirds of the warming occurring since 1975. Each decade since has experienced an increase of roughly 0.15-0.20°C, to where we are today, in the middle of a potentially irreversible climate crisis.

In Latin America and the Caribbean today, there are more than 70 million older persons, according to United Nations data. In 2050, this is projected to nearly triple to 198 million people aged 60 years or over in that region.

These developments are set to change our lives and the cities we live in. Powering this transformation would be the artists ushering the urban, inclusive and sustainable future we need: architects and urban planners.

As our needs, desires and beliefs change, the structures we build will need to facilitate them. As the world changes, social and environmental problems are inevitable. But so will new opportunities that generate employment, income, social mobilisation and female empowerment.  With the right talent, cities have the potential to make all this possible.

From Beijing to Bahrain, Bolivia to Burundi, the new urban powerhouses of tomorrow are emerging in developing regions like Asia and Africa. The architect and urban planner have powerful roles in shaping our urban future.

Whether it pans out into a dystopian vision of overcrowded, polluted and dangerous slums, or into bold and sensitive design ensuring more inclusive, equitable, beautiful and sustainable cities, will ultimately depend on how the architects and urban planners of today approach the most pressing challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

Specialising will be important; as will the multidisciplinary background needed to be agile in tackling multiple concerns, on top of maintaining social responsibility.

The best architecture schools with cutting-edge programmes and research will play a crucial role in the future of our built environment. Here are some shaping the architectural and urban planning talent the future world will depend on:

COLLEGE OF ARTS, MEDIA AND DESIGN (CAMD), NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

CAMD is dedicated in its mission to equip each student with a deep understanding of the power of architecture in shaping our cities, landscapes and world. Undertaking undergraduate and graduate programmes, students graduate with a holistic perspective, ready to engage in the challenges of society and the physical environment.

Choose from the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or minor programmes at the undergraduate level. There’s also a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board and a Master of Design for Sustainable Urban Environments (MDes) offered by the graduate school. At whatever level, students stand to leverage CAMD’s outstanding faculty and interdisciplinary curriculum, and forge a career in whichever path they choose to pursue.

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Northeastern University School of Architecture

A big part of CAMD’s graduates’ success boils down to the emphasis on experiential learning. In this school, ranked 11th in Niche’s Best Colleges for Architecture in America, students get to choose from numerous co-op opportunities related to their area(s) of study. As students are assigned to a specific Co-op Faculty Coordinator, their collaboration from first year through graduation acts as a bridge between classroom studies and career goals.

Located in Boston, one of the world’s great architecture design and architecture hubs, CAMD is also where hundreds of architects visit each semester to review students’ work. Boston and CAMD are the perfect base to learn what it’s like to practice architecture in the US.

SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

At USC’s School of Architecture, professional degrees combine the foundations of a liberal arts education with an education in how to make things – buildings, landscapes, products and environments.

Undergraduate programmes include a five-year Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Geodesign, Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and minor options in Architecture, as well as Landscape Architecture. The B.Arch, rooted in 100 years of history, is a STEM programme in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology, allowing international graduates to qualify for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.

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At the graduate level, five different kinds of Master and dual Master programmes are offered. The Master of Architecture programme is helmed by a renowned academic faculty and award-winning practitioners. Built on three levels, the M.Arch here starts with an introduction to the disciplinary knowledge and the basic skills required for the NAAB-accredited degree. This is followed by an increasingly refined vocational knowledge and advanced professional capability.

The programme culminantes with a year of individually directed work, with master’s classes and a directed design research project (thesis). At this world-class research university located in Los Angeles, students can also take part in events, lectures, exhibitions, global travel opportunities and workshops.

SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, RICE UNIVERSITY

There are many benefits of going to a smaller school such as Rice’s School of Architecture; there are only 3,888 undergraduates, 2,610 graduate students and 641 full-time faculty. For one, it gets to operate as a think tank. Students here are granted the individual attention needed to be practitioners, faculty, editors, entrepreneurs or curators – whichever career path they choose. But they still get to do this with the breadth of study afforded by a major university.

Located on a 300-acre, tree-lined campus in Houston, the US’s fourth-largest city, the university is ranked among the nation’s top 20 in the US News and World Report rankings. It’s a leading research institution, but also a close-knit community with a five-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. This is the school’s “most compelling” asset, allowing each student gets the assistance they deserve in articulating their own project.

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“Each of our faculty member’s research shapes the collective direction of our approach and every student contributes critical ideas to the collaborative enterprise,” said Interim Dean, John J Casbarian.

Here, a studio-based education puts design as the central focus for testing architecture’s multiple facets. Meanwhile, communal space, which can be sectioned off with sliding barn doors or opened up to create one giant space, offers flexibility to accommodate lectures, reviews, meetings, classes, receptions, and even the annual dance party, Architectronica.

SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

The mission of the School of Architecture (SoA) at the University of Miami is to produce leaders and lifelong learners in architecture, urbanism and related fields. It offers three National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)-accredited degree programmes: the Bachelor of Architecture, the three-year Master of Architecture I and the two-year Master of Architecture 2.

The B.Arch is a five-year programme that offers specialised study through upper-level studios and architecture electives. Students can also avail themselves of the opportunities for the study of liberal arts through the elective sequence, leading to a minor.

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It can also be combined with an MBA. For the Bachelor of Architecture / Master of Business Administration, a joint venture with the university’s School of Business Administration, students can earn a B.Arch at the same time as an AACSB-accredited MBA. In the fourth year of their B.Arch programme, students will start taking MBA classes on Saturdays.

Courses included in the MBA degree include Legal and Ethical Implications of Business Decision Making, Business Policy and Strategy and Strategic Marketing. The completion of this joint degree can be done in six years instead of seven.

According to Associate Dean, Denis Hector, “This [programme] is designed to attract top quality students who are looking for ways to diversify their credentials and grow professionally in [a] unique niche market, while opening up competitive opportunities.”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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