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500 The Diana Center 
212-854-8442 (fax)
Department Assistant: Rachel Garcia-Grossman

Chair: Karen Fairbanks (Professor of Professional Practice)
Professor of Practice: Kadambari Baxi
Assistant Professor: David Smiley (Architecture and Urban Studies)
Adjunct Professors: Joeb Moore, Madeline Schwartzman, Suzanne Stephens
Adjunct Assistant Professors: Nicole Robertson, Todd Rouhe, Don Shillingburg, Irina Verona, Peter Zuspan, Yehre Suh, Irina Schneid, Fred Tang

The Department of Architecture


The Architecture major establishes an intellectual context for students to interpret the relation of form, space, program, materials and media to human life and thought. Through the Architecture curriculum, students participate in the ongoing shaping of knowledge about the built environment and learn to see architecture as one among many forms of cultural production. At the same time, the major stresses the necessity of learning disciplinary-specific tools, methods, terms and critiques. Thus, work in the studio, lecture or seminar asks that students treat architecture as a form of research and speculation which complement the liberal arts mission of expansive thinking.

Undergraduate Study in Architecture

Studying Architecture at Barnard and Columbia Colleges leads to a liberal arts degree – a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Architecture, and Barnard College is the administrative location for all undergraduate architecture studies at Columbia University and its partner institutions. A liberal arts education in architecture holds a unique position in academia and in relation to the discipline. If the goal of a professional education in architecture is to enable students to participate directly in the world as an architect – a liberal arts education asks that students consider the broader and myriad conditions in which architecture is conceived and practiced and, in turn, to understand how architecture inevitably alters those conditions. Students are asked to confront and interpret the complex social, cultural, political, and environmental processes that weave through architectural design and urbanism. The purpose of an undergraduate liberal arts degree in architecture is to educate students to think about the world through architecture.

The Architecture curriculum introduces design at a variety of scales, acknowledging that integrated design thinking is effective for problem solving at any scale and in any discipline. Students will experiment with full-scale installations and devices and make small-scale models of urban conditions from which they extract, interpret and invent new possibilities of inhabitation and use. The curriculum intentionally balances the traditions of handcrafted representation with evolving digital technologies of architectural design and communication.

The Architecture major complements, and makes great use of its University setting. With access to superb libraries, research centers, graduate programs, and abundant intellectual resources, our students have the opportunity to follow their creative instincts to great depth and breadth – and they do. The major depends on New York City as more than a convenient site for many design and research projects and frames the City as one of the key social and architectural, and thus didactic, markers of Modernity. Architecture students study with peers from countries around the world in one of the most diverse cities in the world. A large majority of the Architecture students expand their education by interning in Architecture or a related field during their undergraduate studies. Alumni of the Department are leaders in architecture and design fields around the world. The faculty teaching in the undergraduate program are dedicated teachers who are also at the forefront of practice and research and are similarly drawn to New York City as a nexus of global design thinking.

Students interested in obtaining a professional degree in Architecture continue on to graduate programs after their undergraduate degree, and students from the Barnard-Columbia program have enjoyed enormous success in their admissions to the most competitive graduate programs in the country. Students who study Architecture as undergraduates have also pursued graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines including Urban Planning, Law, and Media and Communications.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in the Architecture Majors who fully engage with the curriculum should be able to complete the following outcomes:

  • Apply integrated design thinking to specific problems in and beyond the discipline;
  • Visually communicate architectural concepts and research using discipline-specific techniques in multiple media;
  • Verbally present independent, group or assigned research, in multiple media formats;
  • Organize and concisely write in a variety of formats including reports, case studies, synthetic overviews, etc.;
  • Understand and critically interpret major buildings and themes of Architectural history and theory;
  • Be intellectually prepared for graduate studies in architecture and related disciplines.