Studio Culture Policy

The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture strives to foster a positive and enriching studio culture in all of its undergraduate and graduate studios. Because the number of class hours required for studio exceeds that for other courses in the curriculum and because design studio is central to the students’ education, it is essential that an affirmative, reinforcing environment be maintained. Above all, the School’s studio culture promotes excellence, cooperation, and reflection as it educates future leaders of the architectural profession.

In the Studio:

The faculty promotes the value of research and historical precedents in the studio. Interim reviews are seen as milestones, as part of the design process. The faculty continually adapts to new ideas and new technologies, and they encourage new ways to analyze typologies in insightful ways. The studio naturally promotes learning from each other. Because Notre Dame students have a facility with hand drafting and watercolor, they have the potential for more ability with digital mediums. Students are encouraged to hybridize presentation techniques, combining hand drafting, rendering, with digital mediums.

Opportunities for interdisciplinary study are encouraged in the design studio through the diversity of the types of projects offered. Cross disciplinary studies can occur with other departments, such as religion, art, anthropology, Italian, art history, classical archaeology, and music. This also occurs through the School’s three concentrations, each of which is compose of four required courses within the discipline: furniture, architectural practice and enterprise, and preservation and restoration.


There are many opportunities for students to play a leadership role in committees, events at the School, and student initiated service projects. There is a diversity of leadership that allows students to discover their abilities through University recognized organizations such as the AIAS, Students for New Urbanism, Women in Architecture and informal groups such as Green ND and the LEEDS Study Group.

Competition vs. Collaboration:

Recognizing that competition is inherent in both the academic and professional worlds, Notre Dame’s Architecture School balances that competitive spirit with collaborative efforts. Although competition is an inherent aspect of architectural education, collaboration is encouraged through sharing of ideas, working together in the studio, with students learning from each other. The faculty discourages conflicting levels of ambition which can harm collaboration.

There are essentially two types of collaboration in the Architecture School. The first is students who work jointly on a single project. They learn teamwork, compromise, and how to work together with others. The second is students learning from each other, working in the studio, learning from their peers, from upper classmen, and from the faculty. They learn from each other techniques in drafting, rendering, and Autocad. At the same time, they receive emotional and spiritual support through a natural bonding process that happens in the studio and during the year-long Rome Studies year. They learn from working in the studio as well as from pin-up reviews. Student note-taking during interim reviews is encouraged. Students are urged to view the studio as an anticipation of professional practice.

Engagement with the Community and Service:

The School provides opportunities for students to work with developers, community and neighborhood groups, and individual clients, either real or hypothetical, and student initiated service projects such as Habitat for Humanity, the Center for Building Communities, and projects in distant cities and in foreign countries. Especially in upper level and graduate classes, the faculty encourages an awareness of clients, users, communities and society in design decisions through community involvement whenever possible and appropriate.

Healthy Lifestyles:

The School encourages a healthy and safe lifestyle by encouraging the students to follow good time management, assisting them with their time scheduling. The School acknowledges the need for students to devote time to other courses besides studio. The faculty strives to coordinate due dates to minimize interference with other courses, for instance, by encouraging deadlines for studio projects on weekends, and requiring projects to be turned in the night before projects are due. Faculty members strive to structure reasonable course requirements.

Design Reviews:

Studio reviews encourage students to continue to improve. They are given balanced criticism, recognizing the student’s strengths, while encouraging them to do better. Reviews are a place to discuss theory, history and its application to contemporary design. They involve both commendation and recommendation. Assessment of projects is done in a fair and unbiased way. The course requirements are clearly stated as are the expectations for grades. Reviews provide students the opportunity to see themselves in relation to their peers and can become self-critical.