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America's Best Architecture Schools 2012

best architecture colleges

DesignIntelligence’s annual “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools” rankings are just out. Featured here are the top M.Arch. and B.Arch. programs.

By James P. Cramer

You need to be a risk taker, a speculator—and determined, stubborn, and young to want to go to architecture school these days. Tuition is up, and graduation does not guarantee a job. The supply/demand curve for graduates has changed dramatically: Since 2008, a previous talent shortage has given way to an oversupply. With the persistently bleak economy, unemployment and underemployment rates are at historic highs. Many firms don’t have steady work, a troubling condition that is likely to linger—or even worsen. In addition, there are other obstacles to entering the profession: an internship

system shepherded by sometimes distracted volunteer-professionals; comprehensive testing often for just one segment of professional practice, usually having to do with health, safety, and welfare; and compensation schedules that can be unfair.

So why go to architecture school? People who are driven to become architects can’t convince themselves otherwise. They seek the creativity, inspiration, and service to the community through the tangible achievement of architecture. They desire to be part of the historical legacy of this storied profession.

In spite of uncertain times, the future will need architects who can bring intelligence and insight to planning, urban design, sustainable building, and creating livable cities. We will still require talented professional leaders who have vision, optimism, and passion.

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