Despite crammed cubicles and constant sewage problems, faculty and students from the USF School of Architecture and Community Design appear to have thrived. It was recently acclaimed as one of the best accredited programs in the nation.
The honor came from Design Intelligence magazine’s yearly list that takes into account selectivity of schools, reputation of the dean, tuition, learning environment and resources among other things.
USF ranked in the top-40 schools among 120 competitive programs throughout the United States.
Stephen Schreiber, dean of the School of Architecture and Community Design, said he was excited about the recognition yet emphasized that such acknowledgment would hopefully help the school obtain the building students and faculty need so badly.
“This (distinction) would help show that this is a great school. The (USF) School of Architecture is one the jewels of this university and certainly one of the jewels of the architectural profession,” Schreiber said. “We’ll certainly use this recognition as an indication that we are doing great things here and that the time is right for us to have a permanent home.”
Regarding a few of the qualifications Design Intelligence took into account for the ranking, such as learning environment and resources, student Nhieu Dang said he was surprised his school got such a high ranking but at the same time said his classmates and himself do not see their working situation as an excuse to underachieve.
“That’s awful. Has (Design Intelligence) looked at our facilities and our working stations?” Dang asked. “I’m surprised that we are being recognized among the best schools in terms of learning space and resources, but each and every one of our students is very hardworking and really wants to show that this building is not going to stifle us. We are still going to try to win awards, enter competitions and work with the community. Although, It would be nice to have a building to really be recognized.”
Schreiber echoed Dang’s hopes for a better SACD building and possibly a higher place on lists such as this one in the near future.
“I think what (this recognition) really shows in the end that our students and our alumni are doing great work,” Scheiber said. “And the fact that we have substandard facilities is a detriment for us to be even higher on the (America’s Best) list.”
Scheiber added that in order for his school to be considered in the top ranks of such lists, the USF School of Architecture would need to improve its facilities.
The State University System mandates that the studio space for students studying architecture be no less than 70 square feet per student. In the case of USF architecture, students are allotted less than 24 square-feet studio space for their work.
Among some of the community engaging projects the School of Architecture will be working on this semester are the building of a rowing club while developing a new boat house in a public park in Tampa, as well as working on ideas for pre-schools for disadvantage children.
The School of Architecture, which counts with more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students, was founded in 1986 and received its first accreditation in 1992.
With the same token, SACD received its last accreditation legitimate for five years in 2000, therefore the school would once again be considered for its certification in 2005.
Already, the School of Architecture is taking steps to prevent losing its accreditation because of the so-called “intolerable” working conditions for many of its students.
“We’re becoming more selective in our admission process. We’ll have much better control of the number of students that we let in next year,” Scheiber added. “We’ll have very limited enrollment.”
In addition, Scheiber said his office is working closely with the university administration to have at least a temporary solution by next fall.
Michael Reich, USF director of media relations, talked about the chances of SACD to obtain better facilities.
“(Administration) is trying to convince the Legislature to increase the money going to public universities so more projects could be funded,” Reich said. “It’s going to be a challenge but (USF) is going to try to get more money.”
Reich added that members from the Board of Trustees, such as USF President Judy Genshaft, meet with legislators on a regular basis to lobby for more funds for USF.
Reich also said that there are other projects already in the works that have priority over a new building for the School of Architecture.