Life at The School of Architecture provides an experience unlike that of any other school, and one that students here will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Students become part of a community of thinkers and creators, each doing their fair share to guide the School’s traditions into the future. In a place that consists of great architecture and infused by all the arts, students are encouraged to engage in the discourse of architecture amongst each other, as well as with the professors who serve as creative mentors throughout this experience. Because most of the members of the community live here, work here, eat here, and make art together, students will feel intertwined and involved with their work, their surroundings, and themselves.
Students find themselves continually inspired both by the quality of the spaces, and the messages they propagate and the communal lifestyle they support. Life at TSOA will teach students to truly ‘see:’ it encourages them to get out of the studio to look, feel, and create architecture from the ground up. Students leave the School of Architecture with a renewed sense of pride and responsibility towards their own social, political, and ecological communities. Most of all, TSOA has the uncanny ability to instill a love for one’s profession and creative potential. With the School’s exciting future as an independent institution ahead of us, we feel excited about helping to steer this legendary institution into the future.
The Shelter Experience
Living in and building your own shelter has been a cornerstone of the School’s experience for the last eighty-five years. This program helps students understand the fundamental forces in designing and building a place to inhabit. After living in, helping to build, and maintaining desert shelters created by their peers for graduate thesis projects, students design their own structure and learn architecture from the ground up. The opportunity to engage in this design-build activity helps give an exclusive look at how a design progresses from schematic design, through construction documents, approval permits, all the way to the construction phase in real-time. To have such a perspective truly humbles students in what it means to call yourself an architect, and the exciting implications that come with this special career.
Cuisine & Creativity
Many students’ favorite part about the School of Architecture is its communal life, which is, like all such home atmospheres, centered around the kitchen. This aspect of TSOA is a testament to its emphasis on living a holistic, healthy lifestyle that students feel is intrinsically connected to producing work that means something in a larger community. During their time at the School, students also have a chance to work on the farm and greenhouses located directly on campus. In this farm-to-table experience, it is not uncommon for a student to see the tomatoes, cabbage, or carrots they harvested earlier that morning on their plate the following dinner.
The School of Architecture encourages students to move out of the studio and experience the world around them. Between field trips to local artists’ workshops, nearby cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles, and expeditions to other countries, students get their dose of architecture in an up close and personal manner. Professors accompany these excursions to help students understand the work of notable buildings not only by Wright but also those by Luis Barragan, Rem Koolhaas, Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, Zaha Hadid, Michelangelo, Bramante, among many, many others. Students often remark how these journeys teach them about architecture in more intimate ways than any book, image online, or person could ever communicate. The act of experiencing and actually seeing architecture is crucial to how the School operates.
Being part of the local community has been a long tradition of the School and it has embedded into its culture. Every few months, students celebrate their hard work by inviting artists, lecturers, activists, and other friends of the School to take part in “Formal” evenings. These events teach students not only how to become excellent hosts or hostesses, but also how to bring people together to spark new ideas and have discussions about what we can do to improve the world at large. These Formal evenings also provide opportunities to learn how to entertain guests by way of School’s music community and performance culture. Several on-site residents who have a long history in performing have provided small concerts during these events, and are openly available to teach instruments to those who seek such instruction. The School believes entertaining and storytelling are important aspects of the project of architecture.
Culture Through Community
The School of Architecture continues the tradition of being a place where you not only learn architecture but also practice in your local community. Whether it be through driving up to Globe and Miami to help design a pollinator garden or repaint damaged homes or helping high school students learn about architecture through student-led tours, there’s always an opportunity at TSOA to lend a helping hand. At TSOA, we think that instilling this sense of responsibility towards others starts at home through the small weekly chores given to each student. This service could mean something as small as helping someone on dish duty put away a few extra plates that week, or setting the dining room with some new flowers to make everyone’s next meal a bit more special. The School stands by the basic idea that architecture is a service to others, and that life outside of it should be carried out as such.
The heart of life at TSOA revolves around the studio and the creative work produced by students in the Cosanti and Arcosanti campuses. Students feel empowered to do their very best and contribute to the vast history of projects produced in these very spaces. The culture of the studio matches that of the lifestyle at Cosanti and Arcosanti— a supportive community. Here, everyone wants their peers to succeed and become the best designers they can. Students from all different backgrounds and skill levels come together, teaching each other what they’ve learned in the past to collaborate through group projects. The exchange of software knowledge, books, drawing techniques, and modeling strategies between students, professors, and the on-site preservation crew allows learning to extend far beyond class hours, and for the community here to truly ‘live architecture’.