Architecture

Bachelor of Architecture

The professional Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.) curriculum at Virginia Tech requires five years of study and is fully-accredited as a first professional architecture degree program for the current maximum six-year term of accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. All undergraduate students in the School of Architecture + Design – in Architecture, Industrial Design, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture – begin their studies in a common first-year foundation program, after which Architecture students pursue professional studies in the 2nd through 5th years of the B.Arch. program.

Foundation Program

First Year

The focus in the first year of the Foundation Program is involved with basic elements of design, addressed visually, conceptually, and haptically. Studies are undertaken in two and three dimensions using various materials and tools. Inquiries are focused on the process of design, discovering, through experiment, methods of working that develop aesthetic judgment and means of self-evaluation. All architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture majors study together for the first year.

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Summer Qualifying Design Laboratory

The Summer Qualifying Design Laboratory serves as the entry course for students wishing to transfer into the School of Architecture+Design and change their major to one of four disciplines - Architecture, Interior Design, Industrial Design, and Landscape Architecture. The focus is on the contemplation and purposeful construction of the built environment.

This course is primarily concerned with processes of design conception as well as techniques used to analyze and represent constructed artifacts. Since this course is structured in a laboratory format, access to faculty is unlike typical university courses. The lab faculty serves as the student’s primary resource, however, students are also encouraged to discover and cultivate sources outside of the lab which have the potential to inform your work.

The goal is to develop self-reliant students who are creatively independent, enterprising, and inventive, who have the mental agility to order and structure intellectual difficulties, and the skills, judgment, and desire to make lasting contributions for society.

This lab is part of the School’s Foundation Program and predicated on the idea that the act of making involves a disciplined, comprehensive approach to thinking, observing, and interpreting. Exercises focus on developing fundamental skills, both mental and physical, essential to the four disciplines.

We create an educational environment that will allow students to find the comprehensive habits of mind, work, and conduct that give professional activity in design a unique character.

Professional Studies

Second and Third Years

Professional Architecture studies begin with design theory and process, covering building design as an interactive investigation of human factors, environmental forces, and technology. The second year is an introduction to the discipline of architecture, isolating and intertwining fundamentals that contribute to the complex totality that constitute a work of architecture. Students explore how architecture concentrates and conveys natural and cultural forces through means specific to the discipline. Studies focus on fundamentals realized artistically and practically in works by selected architects. The course articulates the unique reality of architecture through the study of basic interrelationships of material, construction, site, and program and introduces the student to the complex interplay of situation, space and time in the making of places. In addition, the course examines interdisciplinary sources such as art, science, and philosophy for the purpose of establishing the content architecture shares with other forms of knowledge and how that content, expressed through architecture, contributes to human well-being. Concepts in the course communicated through drawings and models, as well as written and verbal discourse.

Emphasis is placed on intellectual discipline, dialogue, assertion of interest, and a self-motivated search for critical issues.

The third year provides for study of fundamental design principles, technical concepts and applications, and measures of quality in architecture. The Architecture III design studio gives the student experience with practical design problems and provides order to the student’s gradual exploration and learning of the nature and means of achieving architecture. Associated with Architecture III are lecture series intended to expose the students to accumulated background and practical experience in the design and construction of buildings.

Fourth and Fifth Years

Fourth year design offers students the option to participate in one of the off-campus programs: the Extern Program, the Washington-Alexandria Center, or the Study Abroad Program. Fourth year on-campus studio options encourage the student to define himself or herself within the profession and to summarize his or her abilities as an architect. It is a time in which practical and quantitative constraints bring the student into a confrontation with standards. At this point the responsibility of development shifts from assignment to formulation by the student.

Off-campus options for fourth year architecture majors:

  • Study Abroad Programs:

    • The Europe Travel Program emphasizes documentation of elements of the physical environment, which range in scale from single objects to buildings to the analysis of cities. Each fall semester, approx. 25-40 undergraduate and graduate architecture and design students participate in approximately 9 weeks of organized travel in Europe. Students normally add two or more weeks of independent travel before returning home. Courses in Design, History + Theory and Culture Study are offered each semester (check particular offerings and faculty each term).
    • The Europe Residency Program is based at the Center for European Studies and Architecture, a 19,000 square foot complex of buildings centered around an 18th century villa with private gardens located in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, at the southern tip of Lake Lugano. The Center has residence and dining facilities for approximately 45 students. Each fall and spring semester approximately 16 students from the School of Architecture + Design are in residence at the Center along with university students from other academic disciplines. Study, research, and travel are structured to advance first-hand knowledge of the architecture, geography, and culture of Europe.
  • The Chicago Studio is an alternative to the traditional upper-level design studio integrating education and practice in a direct way for architecture and design students. Its distinctive structure and curriculum promotes a collaborative design process encompassing multiple points of view within academia, the profession, and the broader community.
  • The Professional Extern Program allows students to spend a semester in an approved professional setting and receive 12 hours of academic credit. This program provides a valuable link between the academic environment and government agencies, museums, architectural offices, industrial design offices, and graphic design offices throughout the world.
  • The Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center affords students from the School of Architecture + Design and related college disciplines the opportunity to study with students and faculty from a national and international consortium of schools in the historic urban context of Old Town Alexandria. The Center, located in a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse redeveloped for College, has over 14,000 square feet of studio, design and review space, offices, exhibition space, shops, darkrooms and computer labs for the students and faculty of the consortium. The university owns an apartment and an office building adjacent to the facility, which creates an economic and convenient housing option for students studying at the Center.

The fifth year is conducted as advanced independent study with individual faculty advisors in a mode comparable to graduate studies and is intended to provide the student an opportunity to develop depth and expertise within a particular area within the field of architecture. Fifth-year students usually formulate and accomplish independent work in the form of a terminal project. Working with their advisors, students prepare programmatic statements, meet informally on a regular basis, and have periodic formal reviews throughout the year. Students are required to leave a portfolio of their work with the school upon graduation.

Professional Accreditation

The first professional degree programs in architecture (B.Arch., M.Arch.2, and M.Arch.3) at Virginia Tech are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, meeting the professional degree requirements for professional registration established by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), which is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture, recognizes three types of degrees: the Bachelor of Architecture, the Master of Architecture, and the Doctor of Architecture. A program may be granted a 6-year, 3-year, or 2-year term of accreditation, depending on the extent of its conformance with established educational standards.

Doctor of Architecture and Master of Architecture degree programs may consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree that, when earned sequentially, constitute an accredited professional education. However, the preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

Virginia Tech, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, School of Architecture + Design offers the following NAAB-accredited degree programs:

  • B.Arch. (160 undergraduate credits)
  • M.Arch.
    M.Arch.2 (pre-professional degree + 54 graduate credits)
    M.Arch.3 (non-pre-professional degree + 84 credits)

Next accreditation visit for all programs: 2018

The pre-professional degree, where offered, may be useful for those wishing a foundation in the field of architecture, as preparation for either continued education in a professional Masters degree program or for employment options in architecture-related areas. The four-year, pre-professional architecture degree is not offered at Virginia Tech.

Bachelor of Architecture Degree Requirements

Required Curriculum for Liberal Education Courses

33 credits

  • English 1105-1106 Freshman English: Writing and Discourse 6 credits
  • Math 1535-1536 Geometry and Mathematics of Design 6 credits
  • Society and Human Behavior Option (Social Sciences) 6 credits
  • Scientific Reasoning and Discovery Option (Lab Science) 6 credits
  • Ideas Cultural Traditions and Values Option (Humanities) 6 credits
  • Creative and Aesthetic Experience (satisfied by Arch 1015)
  • Critical Issues in a Global Context 3 credits

Required Foundation Program Courses

12 credits

Required Professional Program Courses

95 credits

  • ARCH 2015-2016 Architecture II (2nd year) 12 credits
  • ARCH 2044 Building Materials (2nd year) 2 credits
  • ARCH 2034 The Art of Building (2nd year) 2 credits
  • ESM 3704 Basic Principles of Structures (2nd year) 3 credits
  • ARCH 3115-3116 History of Architecture (2nd year) 6 credits
  • ARCH 3015-3016 Architecture III (3rd year) 12 credits
  • ARCH 3045-3046 Building Assemblies (3rd year) 4 credits
  • ARCH 3054 Building Analysis (3rd year) 2 credits
  • ARCH 4015-4016 Architecture IV (4th year studio) 14 credits
  • ARCH 4055-4056 Environmental and Building Systems (3rd year) 6 credits
  • ARCH 4075 Building Structures I (2nd year) 3 credits
  • ARCH 4076 Building Structures II (3rd year) 3 credits
  • ARCH 4034 Building Cities (4th year) 3 credits
  • ARCH 4114 Ideas, Concepts, and Representations of Architecture (4th or 5th year) 2 credits
  • ARCH 4044 Professional Practice (4th or 5th year) 3 credits
  • ARCH 4515 Architecture V (5th year studio) 9 credits
  • ARCH 4516 Architecture V (5th year studio) 6 credits
  • ARCH 4524 Thesis Documentation (5th year) 3 credits

Electives

20 credits

  • Professional Elective Courses 6 credits
    To be selected from an approved list of courses supplied by the school
  • Free Electives or additional Professional Electives 14 credits at least 2000-level or above
    Can be taken at any time allowed in the student’s program of study

Total required for BArch: 160 credits

Satisfactory Progress

In addition to the university requirements, upon completion of the second year in the program, students must have completed: Arch 1015-1016, Arch 2015-2016, Arch 2034, ESM 3704, Arch 4075, Arch 3115-3116, with a minimum in-major grade point average of 2.00 or above.

Graduation Requirements

Upon successful completion of program requirements of the foundation level of study and the professional levels of study in architecture and with completion of 160 credit hours of study, a first professional degree of Bachelor of Architecture is awarded.