Architectural programs from Mississippi State University, Philadelphia University, and the University of Florida are the 2015 NCARB Award recipients for developing innovative curricula that merge practice and education. Announced at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) annual Administrators Conference, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) awarded over $99,000 to the three programs.

The NCARB Award supports initiatives at architectural schools that will have a long-term impact on students, faculty, and curriculum. It is designed to help schools implement new programs that bridge the gap between practice and education in a classroom, seminar, or studio setting.

Fostering Collaboration

“What makes the NCARB Award different from other awards is that it is focused on fostering collaboration between the academy and practice,” said NCARB President Dennis S. Ward, AIA, NCARB. “This year’s proposals all go further to give students, practitioners, and others within the profession meaningful interactions that will raise awareness for the architect’s role and address issues that are central to practice.”

“This year’s recipients are collaborating with their communities, other design disciplines, and manufacturers to expand and reposition practice,” said 2015 NCARB Award Jury Chair Marvin Malecha, FAIA, DPACSA, Dean of the College of Design at North Carolina State University. “They are empowering students to think differently about practice.”

2015 NCARB Award Recipients

Program: Mississippi State University; College of Architecture, Art, and Design; Mississippi State, MS

Proposal: “Expanding the Agency of Architects”

Total Award: $30,048.44

Through workshops, inquiry, and immersion, students will be exposed to different practice management approaches by partnering with a local community design center, Carl Small Town Center. Students will explore social impact design to improve their communication skills, increase their knowledge of sustainability, be introduced to practice management methodologies, and apply their knowledge to a project in the Mississippi Delta. The class will allow students to explore different types of practice and think about their own career goals.

The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal for its collaboration with the local community and design center, and for exposing students to different types of practice. The proposal also recognizes the architect’s role in designing projects that are resilient to social, economic, and environmental challenges. The class will be open to students from multiple years and areas of discipline to work together to learn and apply their knowledge.

Program: Philadelphia University; College of Architecture and the Built Environment; Philadelphia, PA

Proposal: “Interdisciplinary Design and the Experimental Architecture Studio (IDEAS) on Textile Material Strategies”

Total Award: $34,208

This proposal brings students into an interdisciplinary design and experimental architecture studio to explore architectural textile composites for building envelopes. Students and practitioners from architecture, engineering, and textiles disciplines will study emerging technologies, new materials, and environmental issues both in school and in practice.

The project looks to demonstrate how architects can drive the creation of innovative material systems and technologies. It will also assess the impact of student-practitioner partnerships and how undergraduate research can benefit students’ understanding of constructability, sustainability, technology, and other issues central to practice.

The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal’s interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous assessment of its outcomes. Students and practitioners will be testing their outcomes together, and the results will be developed into disseminated resources and exhibits.

Program: University of Florida; School of Architecture; Gainesville, Fla.

Proposal: “Expanding Fields: Materiality + Making to Inform Design Education and Practice”

Total Award: $35,000

Turning the studio into a materials laboratory, students will explore innovative ways to assemble materials and be exposed to issues regarding structural soundness, construction tolerances, and the effects of constructability on design ideas. Students will work directly with practitioners and manufacturers to understand how the materials they select will impact the structural soundness and safety of their designs. They will have the opportunity to use the real materials to build a scaled construction of their design.

The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal for its collaboration with manufacturers and challenging students to change the way they think about what they do. Students will be exposed to the materials at the beginning of the design process so they can inform their designs. They will also have the opportunity to work directly with manufacturers and learn about new technologies, sustainability, and constructability.