University of Virginia: School of Architecture



This is the best institution to educate yourself in architecture; you already know it and it's why you are here. This is one of the best schools of design in the country, and the one that combines design with the education of a public leader in our society.

This place is different than any other, and not only that, it is meaningfully unique. This is the school of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. If we were a school for writers, that would be the foundational text. But we are the school of architecture, and we have the other lesson of Jefferson, to be correctly understood. In the beginning of the XIX century, bricks and columns were used to be innovative and move away from the English neo-gothic. The Lawn is the Project of the Enlightenment:

  • architecture: scale, program, geometry, order, repetition, rhythm, structure, form, materials, space…
  • urban design: relations, fabric, distances, public space…
  • landscape architecture: site, topography, views, vegetation, territorial relations…
  • social system: community, relations, exchange of knowledge…
  • institution: educational, social, political…

We keep the same ambition of innovation in design and in social structures, with today’s languages and technologies.

This is what is expected from you, architects and designers. You will become designers able to exceed, designing the best spaces, urban environments; architecture interacting with the place, transforming it and improving it; architecture aware of and impacting social problems, able to design structures, organizations, institutions to accomplish the highest ideals. But I‘ll say it again, designers! Designers charged with the unique and long lasting responsibility of transforming the physical environment.

You have come here in order to be leaders in thinking, in asking relevant questions and in searching tirelessly for the best forward-looking answers. Finding these answers will be difficult. But believe me, the real challenge is framing the right meaningful question. This is the critical issue; the good questions will take you by the hand, to the answers. It is very hard and very exciting at the same time- be ready to be always wrong! Or at least, not right enough. We live in the uncertainty; design is a process of continuous search, endless search. So don’t ever be satisfied.

You are, and we are, here to transform our world, our physical environment. This is what UVa has always done.   This is the place to develop yourselves as “good designers”: “relevant good designers”. You could have chosen other qualifications instead of “relevant”: “rich”, “famous”, “well established”, “well connected”…

But you have made your choice of coming here, believing that this is the best school to become “relevant good designers”. I came here 3 years ago, from my office in Barcelona and with my partner Margarita Jover, never considering anywhere else. This is the school I believe in. You can be proud of having an extraordinary group of faculty, some that you may know, most you will soon discover. Being the Chair, I can assure you it has no parallel in any other institution that I know. Not visible enough, I know, and we are working to remdy that. Several generations have arrived, revitalizing the soul of this unique school:

. Years ago: Robin Dripps, Peter Waldman, WG Clark, Ed Ford… all of them beloved professors, desired in many places and investing their lives and passion in this place.

. Afterwards: Karen Van Lengen, Bill Sherman, Lucia Phinney, Charlie Menefee, Kirk Martini, Earl Mark, Phoebe Crisman, Sanda Iliescu, Pam Black…

. A next cohort: Anselmo Canfora, Nana Last, Betsy Roettger, Alexander Kitchin, Lester Yuen…

. In the last 3 years: Shiqiao Li, Manuel Bailo, Jeana Ripple, Matthew Jull, Seth McDowell, Ghazal Abbassy, Esther Lorenz, Schaeffer Somers, Gwen Murray, Megan Suau…

. And new faculty of this year: Alex Wall, Carmen Trudell, Asa Eslocker…

You will get to know, and will also be relevant for you because this is the richness of the school, faculty from other departments such as Beth Meyer (also now our new Dean), Teresa Galí-Izard, Julie Bargmann, Tim Beatley, Suzanne Moomaw, Cammy Brothers, Sheila Crane, Louis Nelson, Lisa Reilly, Ellen Bassett, Guoping Huang…

This is also a unique place because we do not compete against each other. This is not a place to go with a knife in your mouth. But do not relax by any means! Of course we compete! The world exists because of competition; ask any biologist, or ask Teresa. I love competing; I was a tennis player. I have made my career winning competitions with the best design. I even compete to be the first coming out from the subway out to the street, climbing stairs by feet to best the escalator’s people.

Here, each of us competes against oneself to be better and better. It is never enough. And we compete not against but together with our peers (students, faculty, professionals) against the many difficulties to overcome. We do not have time or energies to lose, competing only looking 3 feet ahead and 3 feet behind, watching our colleagues-competitors. That is the best recipe to go in the wrong direction. It may be effective in the short run, but not in the long one, and you may be just chasing in circles. We are not one of those schools of big ambitions but small ideals.

We compete looking miles ahead and miles around, pursuing not short run, personal, small successes but meaningful changes. In those moments, people around are not your competitors anymore, you are moving together. Once you realize that people rowing around you are, in fact, part of the same big boat, the other rowers are not against you. You all, WE all, are rowing together, but trying to be the hardest rower, not the escapist one. Row Harder! Get in Front! Take the Lead! Select the Path!

I want you, each of you, to be the best. Each of you has come to contribute to the best school in this country and beyond. Not the richest, not the most powerful, just the best with the best people. Each of you will be responsible and accountable for your contribution, without any excuses. If one draws not as well as the neighbor, draw 3 times more. Show your pride. We are not here to lose time. You are not here, paying and expending your next two or three years, to be just OK and get a job. I have not come here to lose time. I did not leave my office, my buildings and my public spaces, after 16 years, all that I love, to lose.

I will be watching every one of you. I will be aware of every one of your projects, and I want to know why it is meaningful for the ongoing history of architecture, for the transformation of the world, for the collective discourse of the University of Virginia and for your personal development. You can expect these questions; I will be in many of your reviews. And if I, the Chair, am willing to learn from every one of you and every project, I expect every one of you doing the same!

I want you learning from every project of your classmates and from the rest of your colleagues, more senior or in the other programs. I want to see more people from other studios in the reviews than the reviewed one, with more people talking than the one presenting their project, nobody hanging behind waiting for their turn, but active participants. I want EVERYbody hungry and looking for “food for thought” everywhere.

I want every one of you as a sponge, not as a stone. I want sponges eager to absorb, to experiment, to try; I do not want daft stones.  You can pass through this place with your ears closed. With the zippers of your backpack closed, happy with the little things you already have inside. Don’t do that! Go with big, open, “Dumbo” ears. Go with a big, open, flexible, never ending backpack. You are just beginning the discovery of a new world and yourself in it. Do your part and we will do ours. My door is always as open as your ears and backpack should be.

Remember, you are a team. Look around now and look at the faces around each of you. These are the members of your team. You are going to spend days and nights together, better to get the best of each.

And now look at my eyes… I will be watching you, each of you. With love. But with the most demanding love. Hide if you are not at your best! But hide for only one day, I will find you!

And I feel sure I will be proud of every one of you!

Charlottesville, Fall 2014

Iñaki Alday

Quesada Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture

University of Virginia

Department Overview

The Architecture Department is committed to advance knowledge in our discipline and practice through design pedagogies which critically engages three areas of research: 

  • The interdependence of cultural forces, ecological processes, and ethical concerns
  • The relationship between architectural aesthetics and construction methodologies
  • The implications of emerging technologies for the design of structures and sites  

These issues are developed across the program’s curriculum, as well as through student and faculty work in design studios and seminars. As these threads of design investigation interact, new poetic possibilities emerge that are visible in the products of our unique perspective.

In the design of buildings, landscapes and urban infrastructure, working simultaneously at the scale of the hand and that of the city, we share the responsibility for creating a stimulating and sustainable setting for the development of diverse cultural expression. We work close at hand and travel great distances, from Charlottesville, Washington and New York to Barcelona, Venice and Beijing. We apply our hands to the making of things, open our minds to the voices of multiple communities and extend our reach in a network of collaborations across the university and beyond. We study the dynamic fullness of the sites we enter, taking seriously our power to reveal and transform them.

This is our territory, from which we advance the critical significance and catalytic potential of our academic discourse and professional engagement. The Department of Architecture is situated in a multi–disciplinary school that also includes Departments of Architectural History, Landscape Architecture, and Urban & Environmental Planning. Cross–disciplinary engagement is a pervasive phenomenon, with each program benefiting from this rich context. The Certificate program in Historic Preservation brings together students and faculty from each of the four disciplines in a course of study overlaid on the curriculum of each field.



The discipline of Architecture is evolving in a broad field of buildings and constructions, city and urban space, site and landscape with deep cultural and social meaning.  Architecture addressed to collaborate in solving needs and problems in our contemporary world.  Architecture is:

  • culture and progress
  • service and commitment
  • necessary and meaningful
  • transformative and innovative

The Department of Architecture is actively engaged in research and education with the following understanding:

  • the condition of the social need and sustainable future
  • the interdisciplinary of Architecture/Landscape/Urban/Theory
  • deep architectural knowledge
  • technologies, applied to build thoughtfully and innovative for solving contemporary problems

The mission of the Department of Architecture to provide the students with:

  • a consciousness of the world and its diversity
  • the responsibility to choose their own path
  • a broad range of questions and scales
  • collaboration skills with interdisciplinary experience introducing external knowledge to design
  • historical and theoretical knowledge and the ability to find them
  • technical and foundational knowledge
  • analogical and digital representation and thinking
  • research skills to acquire knowledge and develop new methods and tools

Degrees Offered

The department offers two degree programs: Master of Architecture, and Bachelor of Science in Architecture. These programs are anchored by a rigorous design curriculum that provides a forum for synthesizing parallel studies in history, theory, technology, and representation. In keeping with the public mission of the University of Virginia that dates to its founding, these programs are committed to developing the next generation of civic and professional leaders.


Master of Architecture 

Master of Architecture; Design Studies

The Master of Architecture (MArch) is a professional degree accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB). A non-professional Master of Architecture in Design Studies degree is offered to applicants who hold a degree in architecture or a related field. 

Graduate students can also pursue degrees in more than one discipline.  In order to facilitate this offering, we collaborate with colleagues in the other departments to developed typical curricula for the pursuit of dual degree options, which require independent admission to both programs.


Bachelor of Science in Architecture 

The Bachelor of Science degree is offered in a pre–professional program providing the balance of a broad liberal arts foundation with a rigorous studio preparation for graduate study in architecture. Undergraduate Minors in all disciplines, global sustainability as well as other fields throughout the University provide vehicles for focused complementary study. An Architectural Studies Concentration in the Bachelor of Science program offers an opportunity for design–oriented research outside of the studio curriculum in the final year.


Inaki Alday

Chair: Iñaki Alday

Director of Graduate Program: Anselmo Canfora

Director of Undergraduate Program: Esther Lorenz



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, a preprofessional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

The University of Virginia School of Architecture offers a Master of Architecture (MArch) degree that is NAAB accredited.  The Bachelor of Science in Architecture / Pre-Professional concentration at UVa is not an accredited degree, but offers the opportunity to receive substantial advanced standing in the top MArch programs around the country, including at UVa.   The paths to achieve the MArch degree and the total number of credit hours are described below.

The University of Virginia’s Master of Architecture program received a professional six-year term of accreditation in 2009. This program will be reviewed again in 2015.

For more information, visit the NAAB Website. For information on NAAB Procedures, visit the NAAB Procedure Page. For information on NAAB Conditions for Accreditation, visit the 2009 NAAB Conditions for Accreditation Page.

The University of Virginia School of Architecture offers a Master of Architecture (MArch) degree that is NAAB accredited.  The Bachelor of Science in Architecture / Pre-Professional concentration at UVa is not an accredited degree, but offers the opportunity to receive substantial advanced standing in the top MArch programs around the country, including at UVa.   The paths to achieve the MArch degree and the total number of credit hours are described below.

Visit our Master of Architecture, Professional Degree page

The University of Virginia’s Master of Architecture program received a professional six-year term of accreditation in 2009. This program will be reviewed again in 2015.

Annual Report (2009)

Annual Report (2010)

Annual Report (2011)

Annual Report (2012)

Annual Report (2013)

Current Visiting Team Report

Final Decison Letter from the NAAB

ARE Pass Rates can be found by visiting the NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) Pass Rates Page


Other Links:



see Fellowships page

Associated Faculty