Complaints about the state of architecture education are easy to come by, both in academia and practice. It's expensive, long, and arguably ineffective in preparing graduates for the realities of the field. So who's actually trying to fix it?
Will Hunter, former deputy editor of the Architectural Review, has one idea – start a whole new school altogether. Back in October, Hunter opened the brand new London School of Architecture, starting 30+ postgraduate architecture students on a 2-year course working with local firms on local projects. As the school's founder and director, Hunter wanted to form a "cost-neutral" model of architecture education, where students work part-time – for pay equal to the cost of tuition – while also attending courses. Give students a vested interest in their city and practice, narrow the gap between education and practice considerably, and make their training financially sustaining.
We spoke with Hunter in August, about the thought process behind the school and how he went about building it from the ground up. Our conversation has all the trappings of nervous excitement that you'd expect in anticipation of a school's opening, and we hope to check back in with Hunter after the LSA's first year is over.
Before coming to MIT to serve as dean of the School of Architecture + Planning in January 2014, Hashim Sarkis taught at Harvard's GSD as the Aga Khan professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies. He founded his own practice, Hashim Sarkis Studios, in Cambridge in 1998, and continues to lead the firm.
Sarkis’s experience working in two of the most highly-regarded architectural education institutions worldwide, while also managing his own firm, puts him in a unique position to approach theoretical questions of architecture from within the two, often discordant spheres of academia and practice. Our interview revolves around the same questions we ask in our Deans List series – how architecture education and practice are changing, how to address student needs, MIT’s particular take on how to cultivate exceptional architects, and the culture of the school in a global urban context.