IU selects Columbus for new architecture program

Columbus has been selected as a “living laboratory” to host Indiana University-Bloomington’s first ever Master of Architecture degree program.

The official announcement was made late Monday afternoon by Peg Faimon, dean of the Indiana University School of Art, Architecture + Design. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education previously granted unanimous approval March 9 for Indiana University’s proposed master’s program for architecture.

“Our impetus for starting this new master’s program stems from our fundamental belief that we can provide something that is missing right now in architectural education — a hands-on, arts-intensive education using the immersive environment of Columbus as a classroom,” Faimon said in the announcement.

The master’s degree program will be led by T. Kelly Wilson, director of the IU Center of Architecture + Design in Columbus. The program’s first classes will begin the fall of 2018.

Wilson said this time next year, there will be 20 to 30 students in the program who will be looking for housing within walking distance of downtown, and also bringing a different viewpoint to the high density of engineering that is prevalent downtown.

“It could inflect the population to the other side of the design spectrum,” he said, referring to the more artistic side of designing.

Within the next three years, the program will bring 100 to 120 students here with about 30 faculty members and could well expand beyond that, Wilson said.

The program is expected to open in the 7,000-square-foot IU Center of Architecture + Design next to YES Cinema downtown, but in one year, the program will double in size and will outgrow that space, Wilson said.

The IU announcement said the program will approach the study of architecture by realigning artistic inquiry and practice with architectural design. The program is being built on the idea of a “cabled conversation” — an interaction between faculty and students through a robust visiting faculty program “where the strands of discourse and inquiry found within the expressive arts and the sciences weave through the discipline of architecture.”

Faimon said the program will utilize Columbus, a city that is known for many great experiments of modern architecture and civic consciousness.

“Living and working among the architecture, art and landscape of Columbus provides the students with the example of compelling modern precedent and gives access to the power of community and its importance in the creation of architecture,” the news release about the announcement states.

Wilson said the IU Master’s program in architecture will hold, at its core, the idea of a cross-pollination between art and design, something he said is central to extraordinary creativity and inventive thinking.

“As a program we are invested in the idea that students of architecture must develop knowledge belonging to a multiplicity of disciplines within the fields of art and design,” he said.

A goal is to form a student body with a diverse background, ranging from those with traditional four-year undergraduate degrees in architecture, to those with degrees in liberal arts, including the sciences, philosophy, math, English and the arts.

Students in the program also will travel to cities around the globe, experiencing and analyzing invention in art and design, Wilson said. The program plans to work with industry partners, such as Cummins Inc. and access their digital fabrication capabilities.

The announcement for the new program came the day after the opening weekend of Exhibit Columbus, which celebrates Columbus’ architecture and design through 18 installations placed near the city’s architectural landmarks. Internationally-renowned architects, artists and designers were selected as Miller Prize winners and have their designs showcased downtown. Additional works are located along Washington Street and near Central Middle School, where the University Installations are located, including one at North Christian Church by the Indiana University School of Art, Architecture + Design.

For more information

Application deadline to Indiana University-Bloomington’s new Master of Architecture program is Jan. 15. For more information, visit: https://architecture.indiana.edu.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.