Five Burning Questions About the ND Architecture Program: A Q&A with Sophomore Bailey Jordan

Author: Shannon Rooney

Bailey 1

Questions about the architecture major at Notre Dame? Second-year architecture student Bailey Jordan has your answers. Check out these five common questions about the program and click the links to learn more.

What makes the Notre Dame architecture program unique?

The Notre Dame School of Architecture offers a classical program that prioritizes lasting design that can be loved for generations to come. There's a focus on both individual project design as well as urbanism principles to promote community and sustainable development. Students take classes on building technology, structures, and environmental systems, along with studio courses to help them learn the many facets of architecture outside of visual design.

Why does the program encourage hand drafting and rendering?

Drafting by hand allows students to understand every aspect of design in the most tangible way possible. Working simultaneously in plan, section, and elevation, students gain a well-rounded understanding of the design process. Inspired by L'ecole des Beaux Arts style, watercolor renderings are a beautiful way to create final presentation plates to use for review and portfolio. CAD (or computer-aided design and drafting) programs are introduced in the fourth year in a computer graphics course, and students are welcome to use these tools in studio after returning from Rome.

Why is the program five years?

The program is five years because it serves as a professional bachelor's of architecture degree, meaning that there is no graduate school required in order to become an architect. The first year allows students to discern architecture as a major and complete other University requirements. The second year acclimates students to design studio and provides them with the skills and knowledge needed to fully appreciate the third year abroad in Rome, Italy. Through the Rome Program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, students interact with the city and learn from some of the best architecture in the world. Then, the fourth year begins with a reintroduction to American architecture after Rome with trips around Washington D.C., Virginia, and other homes for a study of classical American styles.

Mc 1Walsh Family Hall, the newly built home of the School of Architecture

The fourth year also allows students to choose a concentration. The concentrations are furniture design, preservation and restoration, and architectural practice and enterprise. The fifth year is a summation of all of the skills learned and culminates in a thesis project in the spring semester.

Fifth-years have endless options for their thesis projects. Generally, they pick a location and design something that is logical in that context. Past projects include designs for schools, churches, recreational facilities, civil buildings, and much more.

Can architecture students do research?

Yes! Architectural research has become more popular in recent years, and students have an opportunity to apply for undergraduate and graduate research funding and support to go almost anywhere in the world. Last year, a student presented on her study of stave churches in Norway, which she studied because they are extremely under documented. Another student went to Belgium to study historical monasteries and brewing facilities.

There's also professor-led research groups within the school. A good example is D.H.A.R.M.A., or Digital Historic Architectural Research and Material Analysis, a group that travels the world documenting the forms and materials of historic monuments. Another is Architecture, Health, and Sustainability (AHS-ND), a group that focuses on the interaction of architecture, health, and sustainability in design.

Can I get a job graduating from ND architecture?

Yes! The Notre Dame School of Architecture has a 100% placement rate within six months of graduation. There are many opportunities to connect with hiring firms. For example, the school holds an annual career fair, which connects students from all years with job and internship opportunities at more than 60 national and international firms. In addition, our alumni network and the Notre Dame Center for Career Development help graduates pursue professional opportunities.

Learn More

The architecture program offers three optional concentrations that encourage students to develop skills beyond the core coursework. Read about them here.

What does each year entail? See a breakdown here.

Check out the Student Work gallery to see real examples of student projects.