NEWS | School of Architecture Earns High Marks and 8 Year Accreditation

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
“This is the first year, in all the years I’ve been here, that the School of Architecture won’t be preparing for accreditation. We’ve passed our accreditation at the highest level a school can achieve. Because of that, we’ll spend this year exploring just how great we can become.” – Director Robert Miller.
The University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture is proud to announce that its School of Architecture has earned full 8-year National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation for both of its accredited programs, the Bachelor of Architecture and the Master of Architecture. The school is now able to maintain its standings among the other 134 accredited architecture programs in the United States and abroad.
Additionally, the Master of Science in Architecture was reviewed by the University for its curriculum, acceptance and graduation rates, and research produced. It too received high marks from the reviewing parties.
In order to meet the accreditation requirements, the school produced a massive exhibit spanning much of the available floor space throughout the college’s buildings to display student and faculty work. Michael Kothke, exhibit coordinator notes, “as obviously important as it was to demonstrate our school's alignment with NAAB criteria, it was also important that the exhibition be a celebration of our school. The concept behind the exhibit design was that it first be an immersive display of the creative and intellectual work of our students and faculty, reflecting our culture and values, and then secondly, that the NAAB demonstrations be made clearly evident. The goal was to make a holistic impression.”
The school met many of the NAAB’s Student Performance Criteria “with distinction” including Curricular Assessment and Development for both accredited programs, and Professional Communication Skills, Design Thinking Skills, Investigative Skills, Structural Systems, Research, Evaluation and Decision Making, and Integrative Design for the B.Arch. Both the M.Arch and the B.Arch received the “met with distinction” nod for each requirement in Realm D: Professional Practice area. This realm reviews such standards as Stakeholder Roles in Architecture, Project Management, Business Practices, Legal Responsibilities, and Professional Ethics.
The school was able to overcome the criterion that was not met in a previous accreditation visit, the M.Arch’s Comprehensive Design Requirements. It also received positive marks for areas of great improvement including Construction Cost Control, Technical Documentation, Accessibility, Site Design, Comprehensive Design, Building Service Systems, Client Role in Architecture, Legal Responsibilities, and Ethics and Professional Judgment.
In total, there were 52 criteria reviewed by the visiting accreditation team. The school either “met” or “met with distinction” 51 of those standards.
Preparing for this accreditation visit was years in the making. School of Architecture Accreditation Archivist Ray Barnes says, “I wish to acknowledge the incredible collaborative energy contributed by the entire 5-member SoA accreditation team, Michael Kothke, Brad Lang, Beth Weinstein, Robert Miller, and myself, and the detailed, time-consuming, participation by the entire School of Architecture faculty.  We have a great student body, a great program, a great faculty. Assembling the documented evidence required a lot of planning and a lot of work.”
“The Visiting Accreditation Team found evidence of a positive and respectful relationship between the students and the program’s faculty, administration, and staff. The program has a clear studio culture policy, and it is evident that all key stakeholders in the program understand the policy,” states the NAAB Visiting Team, from their formal report. 
Other excerpts from the report are as follows:
REALM A (Critical Thinking and Representation): “Among the components assessed in Realm A, the team recognized both B. Arch and M. Arch students’ exceptional investigative skills, cogent critical analysis, and strong graphic representation. The comprehensiveness and care with which faculty construct syllabi are clearly reflected in the success of their students’ outcomes.”
REALM B (Building Practices, Technical Skills and Knowledge): “The program demonstrates exemplary achievement in the integrated design and understanding of technical systems, sustainability, materiality, and technical systems, sustainability, materiality, and technical communication. The pedagogical cultures of making, craft, fabrication, and environmental stewardship coalesce in the achievements of student learning aspirations for this realm. The careful coordination within studio sections—horizontally between the studio and support courses, vertically within the degree program, and holistically via assessment—is readily apparent and clearly beneficial to the student outcomes.”
REALM C (Integrated Architectural Solutions): “The team room exhibits provide ample evidence that the students are able to synthesize a wide range of variables into an integrated design solution. The work exhibited has demonstrated the understanding and abilities in Realm C that is required to synthesize the integrative thinking that shapes complex design and technical architectural solutions. The work also shows a response to environmental stewardship in multiple systems leading to an integrated solution. All the criteria in Realm C are Met with Distinction for the Bachelor of Architecture program.”
REALM D (Professional Practice): “The team found that the criteria of Realm D were Met with Distinction for both programs as seen in the Ethics and Practice course, ARC 459 and ARC 550c. The lectures and project assignments in the Ethics and Practice course provide students with rich exposure to the broad spectrum of Student Performance Criteria in this realm; however, the team observed that the breadth of criteria carried by this single course stood in contrast to the program’s approach to addressing the criteria via multiple courses in other realms. The instructional development for this course was exceptional.” 
Photos from the exhibition:
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