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Classical Drawing


College of Architecture and Planning

The College of Architecture and Planning has received a generous gift of $10,000 from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA), Rocky Mountain chapter, to help the Department of Architecture deliver a special topic area in Classical architecture for its Master of Architecture students. 

Students choosing to follow this topic area take a set of classes already delivered in the MArch (Master of Architecture degree), several of which are specially tailored to meet the curriculum requirements of the ICAA certificate program​ located in New York City. Students who satisfactorily complete these courses receive the ICAA certificate in addition to the MArch. 

The gift supports a special topics studio​ in Classical Design, as well as bringing visiting design critics from ICAA to CU Denver. There are also opportunities for CU Denver students to study further at the ICAA school in New York.

The certificate provides additional credentials in an area of specialization likely to become increasingly important in the next decades, for several reasons. First, the sustainability movement has shown that the greenest buildings are the ones already built; we have already harvested, mined and manufactured their materials. Where possible, it makes more sense to re-use existing buildings and adapt them to their new needs, rather than wastefully tearing down and building again. Add to this the changes in the way buildings are financed after the global economic meltdown, and architects in the next few decades will be undertaking adaptive re-use projects as much as building new. And if they are going to re-use existing buildings, they need to understand the languages used to design them, including Classical, as well as their building technologies.

This special topic area builds on existing strengths and interests in the College of Architecture and Planning at CU Denver. The college delivers the only Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation in the region, with an emphasis on old building technologies. The College’s Center of Preservation Research (CoPR) undertakes a variety of funded projects to study and document buildings and landscapes of cultural significance in the region, using state of the art laser technologies.

A number of the architecture faculty in CU Denver have long focused on architectural history and theory. In recent years, this interest has turned renewed attention to traditional design languages. Some are seeking more enduring principles for design in response to our current throw-away culture, and look for these in a careful study of architectural ideas across time. Others have long valued the craft of building, and believe there are important lessons in traditional construction methods and assemblies. Yet others, in response to our wholesale adaption of digital technologies for design production, have rediscovered the traditional value of hand-crafted drawings for training the hand and eye. And others are rediscovering a special character and beauty in traditional designs, and are exploring how this might be brought into buildings for the 21st century.

The courses within the M.Arch leading to the ICAA certificate include:


The Beaux-Arts Atelier Studio​

The Beaux-Arts Atelier Studio​ is a 6-credit spring semester collaborative classical studio with ateliers located at the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art in New York City and at the University of Colorado Denver.  The ICAA Rocky Mountain Chapter generously sponsored the inaugural spring semester 2013 Beaux-Arts Atelier Studio.  

The formal design principles of the Beaux-Arts are taught, including proportional principles, utilizing the human body and its scale in design, understanding basic structural logic and architectonics, developing essential graphic and presentation skills. Shared outcomes for the Atelier Studio were developed jointly with​​​ colleagues at the ICAA. Most importantly, the Beaux-Arts Atelier Studio is a required course for Denver students applying for a Certificate in Classical Studies from the ICAA.

An appreciation of the classical tradition provides students with the intellectual and practical skills necessary to position themselves as discerning practitioners and critical thinkers in a particular sector of architectural practice, as well as within allied fields including urban design, preservation, the building arts, interior and landscape architecture. Theoretical inquiry is combined with skill-based learning following the Beaux-Arts paradigm.  Atelier students will graduate with a highly valued skill set when they enter the job market.​

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