The Act of 1837, which established a state university at Ann Arbor, numbered among its provisions one for the appointment of a professor of civil engineering and architecture. However, it was not until 1876 that William LeBaron Jenney was appointed as the first professor of architecture and design. In that year, one-third of the legislature's appropriation for the School of Mines was set aside for the establishment of a Department of Architecture and Design. In its first year, the program attracted seven students, and appeared to be off to a good start. Unfortunately, the initial two-year appropriation was not renewed and Jenney's classes were not held after 1877.
During the next twenty years, much interest was expressed, both within and outside the university, in resuming an architectural studies program. Finally, in 1905, the Board of Regents approved the establishment of a chair of architecture within the Department of Engineering, and in 1906 Emil Lorch was appointed professor of architecture. Even in its earliest years, it was the strong desire of the unit to establish a separate Department of Architecture rather than remain a subdepartment of the Department of Engineering. A first step toward the achievement of this goal was made in 1913, when the unit was granted administrative control over itself. In 1915, the separate but related status of the Departments of Architecture and Engineering was formalized, with the establishment of the Colleges of Engineering and Architecture composed of those two departments. In 1931, a separate College of Architecture was set up as an autonomous unit of the university. Emil Lorch was named Director of the College. He continued in this position until his retirement in 1936. In 1937, Wells Ira Bennett assumed the directorship; his title was changed in 1938 to Dean of the College. He served in this capacity until 1957.
The focus of the architectural program expanded throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. A degree program in decorative design became a component of the department, and began to attract students more interested in art and design than architecture. Landscape design, a department established in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts in 1909, was transferred in 1939 to the College of Architecture, becoming the Department of Landscape Architecture. In recognition of these additional components, the unit's name was changed in 1939 to the College of Architecture and Design. In 1946, a major in city planning began to be offered by the college. The art and design courses continued to attract students from outside the formal program. An administrative reorganization in 1954-55 formally divided the college into three departments: the Departments of Art, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture. In 1957, Philip Youtz became dean, serving until 1964, when Reginald Malcolmson assumed the office. Changes in departmental organization continued to reflect changes in the emphasis of the program. In 1964, the Department of Landscape Architecture was transferred to the School of Natural Resources, while in 1968, a Department of Urban Planning was added.
The emphasis of the architectural program changed within the university over time, as is reflected in the various organizational schemes. More broadly, so did conceptions of appropriate professional education of architects. This is reflected in the changing requirements of the College of Architecture. In 1922, the Regents endorsed a fifth year of study for architectural students, which over time became the norm. In the 1950s, recognition of the importance of a sixth year of study grew slowly as an increasing emphasis was placed by the discipline on professionalism. A six-year master's program was formally implemented in 1967. In 1969, Michigan became the first College of Architecture to offer a two-year graduate degree (D. Arch.) beyond the master's program.
In many respects, 1974 proved to be a pivotal year for the College of Architecture and Design. Following a recommendation of the "Report of the College of Architecture and Design Review Committee" (April 11, 1974), the so-called "Norman Report," the Departments of Architecture and Urban Planning maintained their association in a new College of Architecture and Urban Planning while an administratively separate School of Art was formed. In that same year, the college moved to new headquarters on North Campus. There, the college and the School of Art continued to share facilities in the new Art and Architecture Building. Also in 1974, the faculty began two extensive studies of the college for the purposes of accreditation, and a new dean was appointed - Robert C. Metcalf. Metcalf was a graduate of the college and had been a member of the architecture faculty since 1955. He later served as chairman of the Department of Architecture (1968-1974). His tenure as Dean of the College lasted from 1974 to 1986. He continued to practice architecture in Ann Arbor, specializing in residential construction, both during and after his term as dean.
The period from 1972 to 1976 was especially fertile for the College of Architecture and Urban Planning in terms of re-thinking fundamental questions about the nature of architecture and about how a program in architectural education should be structured. By the 1970s, the practice of architecture and architectural problems were becoming more broadly defined. As the Norman Report noted, the architecture profession, as a whole, was moving away from a "master builder role to a role which considers all the problems inherent in providing physical facilities for human occupancy." Architecture was now viewed in a wider context as "environmental design" or "the built environment."
Aware of these changes, the university tried to work out an organizational framework to integrate the efforts of architects with others working on environmental problems throughout the university. Beginning as early as the 1960s, various centers, schools, councils and institutes were proposed. These units would have linked or merged programs in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning with those in the School of Natural Resources and to a lesser extent with programs in other units. Although the Institute for Environmental Quality was born out of these efforts in 1971, no significant reorganization of academic units had resulted. Since a restructuring of the college was already underway in 1974, the time seemed right to try again. As the Norman Report noted, "We therefore identify as a complex problem, disturbing to many of its faculty, a feeling that they should be operating within a wider context and perhaps in some new organizational unit having broad environmental goals." Had the recommendations of the Norman Report been fully implemented the college would have undergone an even more significant reorganization. However, by 1976, the idea of a new "umbrella" College of Environmental Resources, Planning and Design had been rejected.
Following 1976, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning redirected its efforts away from further reorganization towards developing joint ventures and dual-degree programs with other units. A number of such programs were explored and several implemented despite complications over scheduling, administration, and joint-appointments. For example, in landscape architecture, students could take coursework in the architecture program as well as in the School of Natural Resources. Other arrangements were worked out with the School of Art, the School of Business Administration and other units.
During Dean Metcalf's tenure, enrollment more than doubled both in the six-year master's program in architecture and in the doctoral program in architecture. In terms of educational philosophy, the college renewed an emphasis on training students to meet the everyday challenges faced by practicing architects. The college stressed a practical problem-solving approach to architectural education. This approach influenced curriculum. As Dean Metcalf noted in 1979, "the best design problems are 'real world' problems, with real clients, real sites and real constraints. In the past several years, real problems have become the standard design fare at the master's level, and are often used in undergraduate design classes."
The college also recognized the need for more on-the-job training for future architects. For some students, the various intern programs with established architectural firms met that need. Others chose community projects. These projects provided practical working experience for students as well as design assistance for local communities. One of the most successful projects was Project GROW (Grass Roots Organization of Workers) which was started in 1965 by Professor James Chaffers of the College of Architecture and Design (then a graduate student in the college) and Mrs. Wayona Howard (a community organizer) on the near-west side of Detroit. By 1980, it had become one of the oldest and longest running community design centers in the country. Design assistance was also given to the North Central Property Owners Association in Ann Arbor as well as to a number of other non-profit community organizations.
Instruction in urban planning also evolved during the Metcalf years. Enrollment in the urban planning program grew considerably during the 1970s although it remained the smaller unit within the college. In 1978, the curriculum in urban planning underwent major changes. These included more stringent requirements in statistics, economics, and analytic methods as well as the development of a series of concentrations. It was felt that these changes might better meet the needs of students entering the program with a wide variety of interests and diverse undergraduate backgrounds.
In terms of architectural research, the college continued to build on an already well-established reputation. The Architecture Research Laboratory, established in 1949, was one of the first such institutions in the country. Prior to 1974, the laboratory "contributed to the development of new structural concepts, new approaches to housing in developing countries, new information on behavioral responses to the physical environment, new methods and tools for the analysis and assessment of problems, and new criteria for the planning of specialized facilities." After 1974, the lab became more interested in new building technology, especially in regard to energy conservation, and in computer-aided design. Housing for the elderly and hospital room design (especially for the University of Michigan Replacement Hospital) were other areas of research in the 1980s.
During the 1970s, questions about the legal and professional responsibilities of architects arose and the college faculty (especially Dean Metcalf) were actively involved in resolving them. In 1977, the Department of Licensing and Regulation of the State of Michigan established a sub-committee on sunset legislation designed to dissolve those state licensing boards, which were viewed as simply protecting the vested interests of those licensed. However, Dean Metcalf argued successfully that public interest in safe, efficient, and harmonious buildings necessitated continued state licensing. The profession, with major input from the college, reworked and finally adopted a fixed combination of education, working experience, and examination to certify architects in Michigan. The heart of the certification system was the registration exam - a 30-hour, 3-day exam held regularly by the State of Michigan. The college set up design examination workshops to prepare students to take what one member of the Michigan Society of Architects referred to as, "that horrendous State Board 'test' of everything you are and hope to be." It was hoped that the certification system would eventually make it more difficult for non-registered architects to work on significant projects.
From 1987 to 1998, Robert M. Beckley provided leadership as dean to the college. By 1989, under his tenure, a sociotechnical focus had been added to the doctoral program in urban and regional planning, which became the Ph.D. Program in Urban, Technological, and Environmental Planning (UTEP). The Doctoral Program in Architecture was also modified in 1989, and the degree designation changed to a Ph.D., giving the college a comprehensive program of professional and doctoral education in both architecture and urban planning. In 1992, the two individual programs in urban planning and UTEP were merged to form the Urban and Regional Planning Program (URP). Beckley also invested time and energy promoting the college nationally and internationally, maintaining contact with and inviting notable architects and designers from around the world to the Ann Arbor campus. The attention he devoted to alumni matters was equally significant, perhaps most movingly demonstrated in October of 1995, when a sculpture was dedicated at the entrance of the school in honor of distinguished alumnus Raoul Wallenberg -- a memorial to Wallenberg's friend and classmate Sol King by King's family.
In 1998, Douglas S. Kelbaugh assumed the deanship with an expressed orientation toward bridging architecture and urban planning in the college, on the campus, in the community, and across the state. Newest to the curriculum (2000-01 academic year) is the Urban Design program, which will train urban designers to combine the skills, methods, and values of architect, urban planner, and landscape architect. The program is designed to take advantage of the college's present engagement with the larger public, especially with the city of Detroit.
In 1999, the name of the school was changed to A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in honor of long-time University of Michigan benefactor, Alfred Taubman. Taubman's $30 million gift to the school in that same year was one of the largest in university history and the most generous single gift ever made to a school of architecture in the United States. According to Dean Kelbaugh, the endowment gift will provide the ongoing funding needed to transform the college. New scholarships will improve an ability to compete nationally for top applicants. The strength of the faculty will be built through multiple new appointments. The gift is also earmarked for launching new initiatives in urban planning and community work.
Researchers are encouraged to consult More Than a Handsome Box: Education in Architecture at the University of Michigan by Nancy Ruth Bartlett (Bentley call number Fimu C181 B291 M835) for a more detailed history of the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Deans of the College of Architecture
|1906-1936 || Emil Lorch |
|1937-1957 || Wells Ira Bennett |
|1957-1964 || Philip N. Youtz |
|1964-1974 || Reginald F. Malcolmson |
|1974-1986 || Robert C. Metcalf |
|1987-1997 || Robert M. Beckley |
|1997-1998 || Snyder, James (Interim) |
|1998-2008 || Douglas S. Kelbaugh |
|2008-2015 || Monica Ponce de Leon |
|2016-2017 || Robert Fishman (Interim) |
|2017- || Jonathan Massey |
Administrative Unit Title
|1906-1913 || Department of Architecture (unit within Department of Engineering) |
|1913-1931 || Departments of Engineering and Architecture |
|1931-1939 || College of Architecture |
|1939-1974 || College of Architecture and Design |
|1974-1999 || College of Architecture and Urban Planning |
|1999- || A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning |