Hayden Strong '25 has had a passion for science, art and humanities, and design for as long as he can remember. That's one of the reasons he chose to major in architecture at Notre Dame. For Strong, pursuing an architecture degree is the perfect balance of his interest in the intersection of engineering and art. Below, he shares his thoughts on the architecture major, including his favorite class and his junior-year experience in Rome.
Why did you choose to major in architecture at Notre Dame?
Architecture is a field that encourages creativity and abstract, high-concept thinking, but requires that these be balanced with practicality and real-world concerns.
I’ve always been intrigued by the interesting intersection of engineering and art that architecture provides, and I’m also very interested in using compassionate design to improve our cities and to do good in the world.
Were you always interested in topics related to this major?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been attracted to both the sciences as well as the arts and humanities, and have always had a strong interest in the world of design.
In high school, I developed a specific interest in architecture, which was further cemented after completing a week-long summer program after my junior year through my local state school’s school of architecture. I applied to Notre Dame as an architecture major, and I haven’t looked back since!
What has been your favorite class in the program and why?
Beginning in my sophomore year, my favorite classes have been also those that challenged me the most, which are my design studio classes.
Here, I get to apply the technical information I learn in classes like Building Technology and Structural Mechanics as well as the theoretical knowledge of my architectural history courses to a tangible project.
At Notre Dame, students are asked to design complete buildings relatively early in their education, with a wide variety of projects including houses, public buildings, and even entire neighborhoods. Studio is the core of the architecture curriculum, and it’s in studio that I feel like I am truly preparing to work as an architect in the real world.
Have you conducted any related research or independent study?
Not yet, though I will complete a fully funded research project in my final year at the University through the Glynn Family Honors Program, which I intend to relate to my major. Tentatively, I plan to study the historical and cultural ramifications of postwar architectural redevelopment in the former Yugoslavia.
What makes the architecture program at Notre Dame stand out among programs like it at other schools?
Notre Dame’s architecture program is one of only a few on American soil that focuses primarily on classical architecture and traditional methods of design and construction.
Accordingly, our curriculum looks very different from most, eschewing steel and concrete frame construction in favor of Greek and Roman columns and traditional masonry and heavy timber.
As the world rethinks its approach towards urban sociology and sustainability in the face of an uncertain future, Notre Dame looks to the great buildings of the past for inspiration—a past which can teach us a surprising number of lessons.
Do you have any advice for prospective students who are considering a major in architecture?
This is the hardest major on campus, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The curriculum is intense, and I would encourage prospective students to make absolute sure that they want to become licensed architects after graduation before registering.
If you are genuinely passionate about architecture, however, don’t be scared off by the workload. Architecture has an extremely supportive community of both students and professors, and there are lots of support systems out there to help you succeed.
Despite its difficulty, architecture is also, in my opinion, one of the most gratifying majors on campus. The process of creating a design, refining it over weeks, drafting every line by hand, bringing the drawings to life in beautiful color, and presenting in front of a panel of real architects and professors is far more satisfying, no matter how many long nights are involved, than studying for an exam and being rewarded with only a letter grade. It’s tough sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What have you appreciated most about your Rome experience?
As a junior, I am almost halfway through my year in Rome. Something I appreciate about the Rome curriculum is the abundance of trips to other places in Italy—in just a few months, I have visited Naples, Salerno, Florence, Siena, Lucca, Bologna, Vicenza, Padua, Verona, Venice, and many other small towns and villas scattered throughout the countryside. Rome is an incredible city, but Italy has much more to offer outside of Rome, which I’m glad I get to see!
What are your career plans/post-graduation plans?
After graduation, I would like to enter the workforce as a junior architectural designer at a larger firm somewhere on the urban East Coast. I would love to work on projects relating to education and healthcare, as I believe that opportunities exist there for thoughtfully designed spaces to genuinely improve people’s quality of life.
- Explore the architecture major at Notre Dame.
- Architecture Major Q&A: Vera Sofia Leon '25 on Architecture, Her Love of Design, and the Rome Studies Program
- Alumni Profile: Architecture Alumnus Tim Carroll ’10, Director in the Architecture and Design Studio at Ralph Lauren