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New Engineering Program Focuses on Architecture, Design

May 9, 2008 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Building on two local traditions with innovation and design at their cores -- Chicago's celebrated architecture and Northwestern University's excellence in engineering -- the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern will offer a new undergraduate concentration in architectural engineering and design, beginning in fall 2008.

Students who complete the program will be prepared to join the construction industry after graduation or pursue graduate studies in architecture or construction management. They will study with experienced Chicago architects, and a mandatory studio course will enable them to build a portfolio.

Julio M. Ottino, dean of McCormick who spearheaded the development of the program, saw an opportunity to combine Chicago's architectural strengths with the strong design initiatives at McCormick.

"Given the city's prominence in architecture, I felt that it was important that Northwestern be part of this world," he said. "It also was clear that there was student demand for a concentration in architecture."

Northwestern has tapped a prominent Chicago architect to lead the new program: Laurence Booth, design principal of Booth Hansen Associates. Booth is Northwestern's inaugural Richard Halpern/RISE International Distinguished Architect in Residence and will act both as mentor and teacher.

"This is really a creative investigation, and this program will involve more than architecture," said Booth, an award-winning architect with more than 45 years of experience. "It will involve engineering, of course, but it will also involve all the realities that go into a building system: clients, politics, authorities, financing and contractors."

The program will include specialty courses in architecture and architectural engineering that build on McCormick's longstanding commitment to design, in addition to a basic program of study in civil engineering. Students also will learn about the business side of the construction industry.

To round out their studies, students will take courses on the history and culture of architecture. A studio course, taught by architects, including Booth, will provide opportunities for design exercises that can serve as portfolios for students.

The program will help prepare engineering students for building industry careers as architects, structural designers, builders, project managers and developers. It will provide students with a broad understanding of building systems and design, give them the ability to communicate and collaborate with architects, and introduce them to issues in sustainability and green design.

Responsible for developing the program's curriculum with Booth were Joseph Schofer, associate dean of McCormick and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Brian Moran, professor and chair of the department.

"Very often we see good prospective students who would like to come here, but they would like an architectural component," said Moran. "We also want to appeal to the creative side of the students in the department. We want a design and innovation framework that fits within the broader curriculum of McCormick."

"We hope to teach structural analysis and design so that students can look at a tall building and see not only its design but also understand the way it works," said Schofer.

The architect in residence position, held by Booth, was made possible by a gift from Richard and Madeline Halpern and RISE International, LLC. Richard Halpern is co-founder and chairman of the project management and construction consulting firm RISE International.

More information on the architectural engineering and design program is available at http://www.civil.northwestern.edu/architecture.
Topics: University News