Master of Architecture
The M.Arch degree is an accredited, professional graduate degree leading to qualifications for architectural licensing. An undergraduate degree in a related or an unrelated field and post-secondary prerequisites are required for admission. Graduates of the program are prepared to enter leadership roles within the architectural profession and become licensed architects upon completion of internship experience and passing the architectural exam.
Students are active participants in the design of their learning path through the structured curriculum, and through approved independent study, drawing on a variety of resources throughout their education. Students explore architecture through the resources of design, technical and professional practices, liberal studies, and the arts. Project-based learning is central to the educational experience.
The education is rigorous; traditional grading is replaced by an assessment of the student’s learning by faculty, mentors, and practicing architects on the basis of evidence documented in coursework and through annual Learning Dossier review.
The Educational experience is closely linked to its two architecturally stunning campuses and is fueled by the intense year-round educational community that is marked by residency at the main Arizona campus (Taliesin West) and the summer Wisconsin (Taliesin). All students are provided with on-campus housing at both locations, including the celebrated desert shelters at Taliesin West, experimental dwellings dotting many of the 500 acres of Sonoran Desert preserve surrounding the main campus.
Evolving from Frank Lloyd Wright’s precepts of organic architecture, our design process unfolds out of existing cultural and physical conditions, materials, and landscapes into well-crafted frameworks for human activities. Our curriculum encourages students to explore beyond perceived boundaries rather than relying solely on abstraction or being limited by preconceptions. The School integrates theory and practice using a workshop model in which design and construction for communities is central.
The accredited M. Arch degree relies on the Design Studio as the core of the curriculum. Studios are taken every session and are structured to explore a variety of facets of the architectural discipline. Review committees recommend students enrollment based on their past performance. Students typically take two introduction studios, two intermediate studios, and two final studios (an integrated studio and a thesis).
To expand knowledge and understanding of architecture, Design Studios are accompanied by Core Classes that focus on specific and required knowledge and skills. Core Classes range from Architectural History/Theory to Building Code and Practice Management. In addition to Core Classes, Electives are offered to explore a variety of topics that students draw upon.
Within an accredited M. Arch degree framework, and with the design studio as the core of the curriculum, the School relies on the following:
- The legacy of Taliesin and Taliesin West as instructive environments for the experience and learning of architecture, including active exploration of the implications and uses of Frank Lloyd Wright’s body of work and thought.
- The inhabitation, design, and construction of shelter by students individually, as well as the undertaking of community design/build projects, both on and off campus, collectively designed by students, faculty, and staff.
- The learning of architecture through a variety of medias, including art making as well as performance, as an integral part of our classroom environment, through the continual presence of artists whose work we explore and enjoy.
- The study of ways in which architecture can evidence itself through structures that throughout their life cycle minimize the expenditure of and impact on natural resources.
- The exploration of architectural precedents, case studies, and historic examples from cultures around the world.
- Participation in both internships and in extern collaborations with other schools and institutions to translate skills and experiences into successful practice.
- The learning of the wider ethical and historic context of architecture that provides students with tools to become a human being of integrity and vision.
The first two sessions contain the greatest amount of classes and contact hours. This is intended to introduce concepts and create the foundation that you will build upon over the remainder of your program. As you progress through the program the expectation is that you will begin to develop an individual learning path. Students are expected to take a studio during every session, with the exception of the summer session. In addition to the Introduction Studios a large amount of core classes are offered in the first year. It is expected that core classes be taken when offered in order for students to complete the program within three years. The following schedule is a representation of the learning path you will take while at Taliesin. It is subject to class availability, student ability, and individual preferences.
Projects and Research
The School’s curriculum supports applied project-based design and research. Innovation in architecture is explored through experimentation of materials and processes related to a project, through the lens of the social and cultural context of that project.
The Shelter Construction Program is an project that challenges students to design and build small structures as case studies of how materials come together, how they withstand severe environmental conditions, and how the project realization can happen with resourcefulness and invention. These shelters then form a core component of the housing stock for enrolled students.
Design research is encouraged and explored through systematic inquiry that leads to knowledge. Students develop such research projects in their Studios, Independent Study, and the Research Design Studio. A strong emphasis on the socio-cultural context of architecture is often developed in these projects, as well as specific technical and typological investigations.
Many of the studio-based projects center around architectural work, with specific focus on projects that are socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and culturally relevant.
Internships are a mandatory part of the students education and may be completed during the summer sessions. During the final year in the M.Arch program, students are required to pursue a Thesis, which explores a project in both depth and breath in an area related to their research and design interests.