PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Above) Geena Pickering ('16) presents her MArch thesis in The Fed Galleries @ KCAD. (Below) KCAD Master of Architecture student Michael Adeniyi presents his design for a Chicago River Cultural Center to practicing architects.
GRAND RAPIDS —The Master of Architecture (MArch) degree program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is now accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), having been granted Initial Accreditation at the January 2019 NAAB Board meeting. Accreditation is effective January 1, 2018, and program graduates—beginning with the inaugural cohort, which graduated in 2016 — now fully meet the educational requirements required for licensure in architecture.
“KCAD is grateful to NAAB for its thorough and insightful review of our MArch program, and we congratulate our MArch faculty on successfully shepherding the program through this vital process,” said KCAD Dean of Academic Affairs Charles Wright. “With this affirmation, we will continue our efforts to provide transformative educational experiences to current and future MArch students.”
The granting of Initial Accreditation culminates a roughly five-year process—the most rapid accreditation schedule allowed by NAAB—and follows a successful November 2018 Initial Accreditation Visit by the NAAB Team. According to KCAD MArch Program Director Brian Craig, that speaks volumes about the strength of the program’s forward-thinking pedagogy and the pertinence of the educational experiences it provides.
“The KCAD MArch was designed from the ground up to provide an architecture education very unlike the usual. We do that by emphasizing community engagement, an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, and a pursuit of architecture deeply rooted in a sense of place,” said Craig. “We don’t want our graduates to just be architects capable of responding to the present; we want them to be leaders who will shape the future of architecture.”
Craig said the NAAB Team was particularly complimentary of the program’s emphasis on cultural diversity, social equity, and environmental responsibility; the ways in which it fosters students’ understanding of the business and practice of architecture; as well as its methods of learning outcome assessment.
The KCAD MArch dissolves the boundaries between disparate bodies of knowledge, asking students to make connections between and among such areas as history, professional practice, technology, structures, critical theory, and design communication. Each semester balances theory and practice, pairing in-depth seminar explorations of a topic with studio courses wherein the topic is reinforced, expanded, and explored through design. Students begin with understanding—context, precedent, place, and influencers—before moving into conceptualization and development through iteration, reflection, commitment, and refinement.
The program also prioritizes experiential learning. An internship component, broadly supported by regional architecture firms, is required, as are a six-week study away course exploring the relationship between architecture and culture in an unfamiliar location, and the Urban Collective Studio course, in which students engage local community members in solving a real-world architecture and urban design problem.
“The goal of the program is to equip students to make a difference in the world through their own personal practice of architecture,” said Craig. “We do that by immersing them in opportunities to ask questions, explore a multitude of different answers, and open themselves up to a broad diversity of perspective and knowledge, because that’s ultimately how architects can have a positive impact, now and into the future.”
KCAD MArch students come to architecture from diverse backgrounds and stages in their lives and careers. Two tracks to the degree are offered: a two-year sequence for those students who have a pre-professional Bachelor of Science degree in architecture, and a three-year sequence for those students who hold an accredited bachelor’s degree in any major. The priority application deadline for students looking to enroll in the KCAD MArch for the fall 2019 semester is February 1.
“MArch students are an integral part of both KCAD’s dynamic creative community and the local community at-large, drawing from and collaborating across a rich diversity of art and design disciplines and experiences,” said KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “We’re proud to offer this innovative degree that will continue fueling our region, our nation, and our world with creative thinkers and leaders.”
For more information, visit KCAD’s Master of Architecture program page.