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Friday, April 5, 2013

Preservation by Adaptation: Is it Sustainable?

The historic preservation field is aggressively promoting itself as ''green.'' Adaptive reuse of historic buildings is now widely considered a sustainable development practice. As with architecture in general, however, sustainability in preservation is too often narrowly framed around environmental issues such as the conservation of materials, energy, and water. Commonly accepted definitions of sustainability recognize two other components: economics and culture. Rarely does the preservation field consider sustainability as an entire system of interrelated environmental, economic, and social relationships, as envisioned by the Brundtland Report of 1987. This article offers several reasons for the preservation field to engage in the full spectrum of sustainability concerns, including economic and social issues.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Better Path to Licensure through Research Practices

Last June, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released data on a wide variety of topics across several decades related to internship, examination and licensure for architects. "NCARB By the Numbers" revealed that the mean time from graduation to completion of the Intern Development Program (IDP) is 6.4 years with an additional two years to complete the exam and achieve licensure. In real numbers that means the total amount of time from high school to licensure for architects in America is 14.5 years.

The knowledge loop between the architectural profession and academia has the potential to be a rich and interactive exchange leading to meaningful advancement of the discipline. One can imagine priorities developed by professionals would ensure the value of their expertise to clients on a day-to-day basis. While complementary research priorities collectively developed with academic researchers would address broad societal needs, advance building technology and reduce waste at many scales in the building industry. In the midst of this dynamic mix of professional experts and academic researchers, students could thrive, guided by both mentors and professors in individual research projects that connect to multi-year research goals. And if the students' role in these research efforts could be counted in their IDP, meaningful work would systematically lead to licensure, potentially upon graduation of an advanced post-professional degree.

The first steps towards this ideal world begins at the University of Minnesota with our first cohort of Masters of Science in Architecture, Research Practices concentration. Pending finalization of the MS and the Consortium, we expect our first cohort to enter in Fall 2013.