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Best Schools for Architecture & Interior Design in America

Architecture school

Cornell's Graduate School of Design

Harvard's Graduate School of Design

Inside Harvard's School of Design

Want to know which schools have the best graduate and undergraduate architecture and interior design schools?

AUSTIN, TX, USA, August 20, 2019 / -- Here are the rankings tallied from this past year’s survey of 4,000 respondents, starting with undergraduate institutions, followed by graduate studies programs:

2019 Top 10 Architecture Undergraduate Programs:
1 Cornell University
2 Rice University
3 Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (SLO)
4 Syracuse University
5 Cooper Union
6 Rhode Island School of Design
7 Pratt Institute
8 Virginia Tech
9 Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
10 University of Texas (U.T.), Austin

2019 Top 10 Architecture Graduate Programs:
1 Harvard University
2 Columbia University
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.)
4 Cornell University
5 Yale University
6 Princeton University
7 Rice University
8 University of California (U.C.), Berkeley
9 SCI-Arc
10 University of Michigan

Once again, two American architecture schools lead the pack for architecture and interior design. For undergraduate studies, once again, Cornell University takes top honors for 2019 — a position it has held for 8 of the last 9 years. And for advanced degrees, the longtime leader of the pack is Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), which has been ranked #1 for the last 6 years in a row.

If you’re a little fuzzy about Cornell’s place in the world of design, don’t worry — the school is perhaps better known for its technical prowess in engineering. But you probably have heard about one its famous students, the Dutch-born starchitect Rem Koolhaas.

By the early 2000s, Cornell recognized that their architecture teaching facilities and student design studios were due for a makeover. So, in an inspired “eat your own dogfood” moment, they engaged former student Rem Koolhaas to come back to re-envision the campus environment for students at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP).

The result, Milstein Hall, is a remarkable achievement. When it opened in 2011, the 47,000 sq foot building — designed by Koolhaas and OMA principal Shohei Shigematsu — created a new ‘center of gravity’ for the design arts at Cornell.

Inside Milstein, you can find the stunning new L. P. Kwee Studios — a light-filled open space whose hybrid truss superstructure boldly cantilevers 50 feet over University Avenue — providing much-needed studio space for around 285 students.

As Cornell’s needs for studio space grew, Formaspace was there to help.

With the benefit of a gift from Cornell Alumna Frances Shloss, (B.Arch. ’45), the university was able to engage NYC-based LEVENBETTS architects to undertake a sensitive renovation of historic East Sibley Hall — to create a new state-of-the-art studio space for another 60 students.

Opening in 2014, the new Frances Shloss Studios at East Sibley Hall combines the best of the past — such as original pine floors and antique windows — with the best of the future, including overhead skylights and Formaspace’s renowned industrial-strength desks, tables, and workbenches.

According to Aaron Stoneburner, the Industrial Design and Engineering Team Manager at Formaspace, the Cornell project called for over 300 Basix workbenches, each one kitted out with laminate plywood worksurfaces. Formaspace also manufactured 230 custom storage units for the Frances Shloss Studios, each one designed with two stacked file drawers.

The steel-framed Formaspace furniture incorporates key details that make life easier for students, including a pull-out shelf under the worksurface for storing drawings, built-in power strips for computers, glue guns, and other devices — all of which can be stored in the built-in drawer under the desk — as well as a soft, felt privacy panel that provides space to pin drawings, mood boards, and other important reference items.

As is so often the case, one project leads to another. As the Cornell project was wrapping up, Formaspace got a call from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, thanks to a referral from Cornell. Harvard wanted to renovate the interior studio space of its iconic Gund Hall on the Cambridge campus, and they wanted Formaspace to assist with updated furnishings.

Designed by Australian-born GSD graduate John Andrews, Gund Hall opened in 1972. Its massive angled roof allows natural light to flood into the student studio workspaces inside, while providing views of downtown Boston across the Charles River.

After decades of use, the individual studio work areas at Gund Hall were in need of a major refresh. Harvard commissioned Formaspace to create and install new furniture — right down to replacing all 160 of the original metal “spines” that anchor the worksurfaces and panels to the floor.

The new furniture was manufactured at Formaspace’s Austin, Texas factory headquarters, including 400 new worksurfaces, silver-painted pegboard panels, and updated translucent acrylic privacy panels.

Once everything was ready, Formaspace shipped the new furniture to Harvard and performed an onsite installation — in only three weeks — to minimize disruption on campus.

“Several aspects made this a challenging project for us,” says Formaspace’s Stoneburner. He notes that “the floors that comprise the five tiers of Gund Hall’s stadium-like interior aren’t level, which meant quite a bit of fine tuning during the manufacturing and installation process. Temperature shift was another issue inside the building — we made provisions for the acrylic panel fittings to allow expansion without cracking. And we were able to find new sources of Baltic birch plywood, as our regular supplier in Japan was disrupted due to a major earthquake.”

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Mehmet Atesoglu
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