Holyoke to Offer New Major in Architectural Studies
by Fred LeBlanc
T. Davis, professor of art and coordinator for the College's
new major in architectural studies.
this fall, Mount Holyoke will offer a major in architectural studies.
Administered by the art department, the curriculum will provide
students with creative, visual, and historic foundations in architectural
issues and practice. The new program resulted largely from student
demand, says Michael T. Davis, professor of art and coordinator
for the new major.
"Throughout my twenty years here, there always have been
a few students who created independent study majors concentrating
on architecture, or took either the art history or the studio
program in preparation for architecture school. But interest in
the field has dramatically increased over the last four or five
years to the point where there are about a dozen students studying
architecture," explains Davis. "Our goal was to put
together a curriculum offering maximum flexibility while providing
these students with the basic foundation needed to pursue architecture
in all its guises—for example, as an architectural historian,
a practicing designer, or an urban redevelopment specialist."
Planning the architectural studies major involved close cooperation
with the Five College consortium. "Initially, students will
need to go to Smith College, Hampshire College, or the University
of Massachusetts to fulfill the design requirement. The other
area colleges are very supportive of the program," says
Davis. "And some of the questions I raised in the planning
process have led to a larger initiative. We're getting very
close to defining an architecture certificate program that would
be cooperative among the Five Colleges."
According to Davis, the field of architecture is undergoing a
fundamental conceptual change. Gone, he says, are the days when
being an architect meant having a narrowly focused set of technical
skills and concentrating on buildings as isolated objects. Contemporary
architects deal with a wide range of issues, including a building's
social and environmental impact. Given that, Davis feels that
Mount Holyoke is an ideal setting for the architectural studies
major. "Sciences are so strong here and there's such
a culture of environmental awareness. Furthermore, Mount Holyoke
is an interdisciplinary environment. And that really sets the
table for any career in architecture."