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Center for Advanced Research in Traditional Architecture

College of Architecture and Planning


​Learn more on our blog site​.


The most enduring and beloved cities, parks and buildings constitute a design tradition rich with cultural memory, incremental adaptation and radical invention. We treasure these places and they, in turn, define us. Design, building and placemaking traditions throughout the world hold essential lessons for resolving the great challenges we face today, including how to build more sustainable, healthy, economically robust, just, beautiful and enduring places. 

Today, comprehensive studies in the field can be found only at the University of Notre Dame and the non-degree granting Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. In recent years, the number of faculty teaching traditional design, and students and professionals interested in learning about it, has steadily increased. Yet, still there remains a sizeable unmet demand in student, professional and general education for the lessons of traditional design, and few institutions of higher education focus scholarly research on these issues.

To meet this need and confront the challenges of ongoing population growth, dwindling natural resources, dehumanizing patterns of development, the loss of unique cultural landscapes, and a general lack of interest in beauty, the University of Colorado Denver's College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) has created the Center for Advanced Research in Traditional Architecture (CARTA).

CARTA's mission is to advance the interdisciplinary study and practice of traditional architecture, building craft, urban design and landscape architecture through spirited debate, rigorous education and transformative research so we may improve the built environment and people's quality of life in Colorado, the West and beyond.

An independent research unit of CU Denver, CARTA will be the first center of its kind in the world, bringing together diverse international organizations, practitioners, scholars, scientists, students and the general public.

With staff in place, faculty ready to teach, facilities in hand, growing student interest, and professionals in need of CARTA's educational opportunities, CARTA is poised for a successful and impactful first year. We are grateful to the traditional design community for its enthusiastic support of the Center and look forward to many future robust partnerships in support of our work.

CARTA will achieve its mission through research, education and scholarship including the following areas of activity:

  • Research Fellowships 

  • Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Support 

  • Applied Technology 

  • Publications 

  • Annual Symposium and Debate 

  • Lectures 

  • Recruitment, Placement and Mentoring 

  • CARTA Certificate 

  • Continuing Professional Education 

  • Library, Cast and Model Collection

  • Scholarship and Awards Program 


As we achieve our mission we will:

  • Create beautiful, harmonious, humane, and sustainable civic and private realms and the spaces, buildings and landscapes that define them

  • Improve our cultural, psychological and physical well-being

  • Educate current and future practitioners in the precepts and practices of traditional design so they may make positive contributions to humanity

  • Advance traditional design practices to meet current and future challenges

  • Increase knowledge of traditional construction and its materials and building performance, methods of assembly, construction and technologies

  • Preserve and rejuvenate the knowledge and practice of traditional and classical architecture, urbanism, landscape and building crafts

  • Develop and disseminate empirical data regarding public design preferences, cost analyses, life cycle cost, energy performance, and more

  • Reconcile the currently impassable gap between traditionalists and modernists, so the best may be drawn from each perspective

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