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New Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture

College of Architecture and Planning announces new option for undergrads.

​by Amy Vaerewyck

For the first time ever in Denver, undergraduate students will be able to earn a degree in architecture—thanks to the brand-new Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BS Arch) degree now offered from CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP).

For many years, CAP delivered an undergraduate Bachelor of Environmental Design program on the Boulder Campus, and all of its graduate professional programs on the Denver Campus. Starting this year, CAP will offer the new undergraduate BS Arch degree in Denver in addition to its existing Master of Architecture degree. CU-Boulder will take over the BEnvd degree and tie it more closely to its existing programs in environmental science and engineering.

CAP at CU Denver is now the only college in Colorado offering comprehensive degrees in design and planning of the built environment, from undergraduate through accredited professional master’s degrees to the doctorate. The college offers courses provides instruction in architecture, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, urban design and historic preservation.

Transfer students can enroll in the four-year, pre-professional BS Arch program for the spring 2013 semester, and freshmen can enroll for fall 2013.



Designing and Planning for the Future

“CAP programs focus on what students will need to flourish in the design and planning fields in the next few decades, taking full advantage of our special location in Denver,” said CAP Dean Mark Gelernter, PhD, who has been with the college since 1987.
The world’s population is exploding (now 7 billion, up from 2.5 billion in 1950), and people are massively migrating into cities, Gelernter said. Designers and planners are finding new ways to create and maintain livable, healthy cities while dealing with much higher densities.
CAP students—both grad and, now, undergrad—study real-life urban planning issues and engage in actual design projects in Denver, a city fast rising to national prominence.
“Increasingly, Denver is seen as leading the country in how to build again in cities,” said Michael Jenson, PhD, CAP’s associate dean for academic affairs. “Here we are, right in the middle of that.”

Constructing Lessons

“CAP undergraduates are joining a special college focused on the significant design issues of the 21st century,” Gelernter said.
Students in CAP learn new modes of professional practice and new technologies of digital design and how these can drive fabrication tools like laser cutters. They also learn to design and plan more enduring places, which involves:
  • Sustainably designing buildings more in harmony with natural forces
  • Re-using buildings rather than tearing down and building afresh, and 
  • Protecting cultural heritage and the sense of place created by memorable, lasting buildings.
The award-winning Certificate in Design-Build program has taken students to the Navaho reservation in Utah, to Guatemala and to local nonprofit projects. Students learn how to:
  • Integrate design with construction,
  • Manage and build real projects, and
  • Use their skills in support of local communities.
“There are two activities that solidify undergrad education,” said Phil Gallegos, director of the BS Arch program. “One is study abroad, where students are immersed in another culture, and the other is Design-Build, because students learn by physically handling building materials.”

Building Opportunities

Teaching undergraduate and graduate architecture in the same location will enhance the educational experiences for everyone, Gelernter said.
Undergraduates will be mentored by graduate students, and will be inspired by the high quality of design work at the graduate level. Graduate students can enjoy the energy of undergrads and the opportunity to pass on skills to architecture novices. And since CAP has close connections with the professional design community in Denver, undergraduates will have opportunities to meet local architects and perhaps intern in local firms.

CAP is planning for about 50 new undergrad transfer students in January 2013, and anticipates approximately 125 newly enrolled undergrads by the following fall. The undergraduate program is expected to eventually grow to about 450 students, joining the 450 graduate students already in the college.
The hope is that, soon, people will hear “CU Denver” and think “architecture.”

Published: Nov. 5, 2012

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