Traditional and Classical Architecture and Urbanism

Twenty years ago the curriculum was reformed to focus on traditional and classical architecture and urbanism. It is worthwhile to reflect for a moment about what those four words mean.

Classical architecture is the best that a tradition produces. Every culture has a tradition. Ours runs from ancient Greece and Rome through the founding of the United States (think of Jefferson's wonderful buildings) and on into the present.

Urbanism is the counterpart to architecture. In training our students to be leaders in the profession of architecture, we must equip them to build and improve our cities and rural areas. In a well-designed, livable city, the public realm complements the private realm, and not all buildings are classical. Indeed, most are good traditional buildings contributing to a complementary public realm (think of Rome). We therefore teach our students how to work with the appropriate national, regional, and local traditions of urbanism, architecture and construction. What works in America won't necessarily do well in Panama. What is right for Boston is not right for Phoenix.

Rejecting tradition or launching a radical transformation at its expense as occurs in most other schools of architecture ill equips a person to use his or her God-given gifts to make the built world a better place for everyone. Such an education deprives a person of the inexhaustible fund of experience tradition makes available for guiding leaders. Tradition is much broader than classicism. Classicism is only the narrowest, highest peak of achievement standing out above the broad plain of tradition, an inspirational example of the best to be sure, but an isolated peak nonetheless. No plain, no peak. We can live on the plain, but a peak is a rather narrow roost.

— Carroll William Westfall, Past chairman and Frank Montana Professor

Undergraduate Admissions

Graduate Admissions


Career Discovery for High School Students

Geared towards those who are considering and who have already enrolled in an architectural program, participants not only learn architectural history but also the skills and responsibilities required in contemporary architecture practice.

Learn more