The Architecture Program offers a dynamic milieu for engagement with the pressing issues confronting contemporary cities and regions. It does so in both its professional degree (MArch) and advanced studies (MASA) options. The professional program seeks to prepare and advance those wishing to participate critically in defining concerns and negotiating responses to the impediments and opportunities of our precipitous times. Vancouver, with its richly resourced landscape and complex cultural mix provides an instructive focus for these ambitions. This program endeavors to prepare students as informed stakeholders in the built environment via a cogent curriculum that affords both the requisite knowledge base and opportunities for direct experience in the local and global making of the world at large.
The program benefits from its location in Vancouver, a Pacific Rim city that has historically attracted an ethnically diverse population from across wide, historically complicated catchments. And, while it is a port city located by a global network of cross-seas trade, it is also a city located within a web of First Nations settlements. The program supports responses to this complex and compelling locale and its contemporary matrix of issues and possibilities through research and design strategically located in communities ranging from the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown, to faculty-led research with First Nations communities in northern British Columbia, to Studies Abroad initiatives in Tokyo, Beijing and Brazil. While building upon this culturally rich and historically formed context, the program is also dedicated to exploring unprecedented future perspectives. It is deeply committed to taking a leadership role in addressing the environmental issues confronting us today and in ensuring that present-day students become future practitioners with workable responses. Likewise, the program affords an opportunity for pursuing the experimental and research frontiers facilitated by digital media.
Our times demand innovative responses to the exigencies, both challenging and potent, of a complicated and indeterminate world. Architecture has political agency and a role to play as a mediator of crucial social contracts. In as much as architecture as a discipline demands a set of prescribed or mandated skills, it is also a practice requiring constant reassessment of social assumptions and cultural entitlements. Consequently, the architecture program encourages counter models to the predatory and uncaring actions that are so much a part of our plural and contested histories and spaces. Architecture shapes both everyday and exceptional experience and it must do so with humility and daring, as the occasion demands.
Similarly enhancing cultural exchange is the post-professional Advanced Studies in Architecture (MASA) program, which, while small, attracts a largely international cohort of post-professional and variously experienced students who are able to add their voices to the exchange between cultures and global positioning. The recent formation of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture has positioned the professional and the Advanced Studies in Architecture programs within an enhanced environment of vibrant cross-disciplinary exchange. The enlarged and collaborative vision of practice that this initiative announces is timely: it is commensurate with the urgent issues of sustainability, a meaningful sense of social justice and global citizenship, and their local consequences. This is a challenging but also propitious time to embark upon an architectural education. Rarely have creative thought and synthetic design skills been of such consequence as now.