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As the first cohort of students pursuing the architecture studies track in the History of Art and Architecture concentration prepare to graduate this spring, many students in the newly created track praised its flexibility and integration with the Graduate School of Design.
The track, introduced two years ago, was established as a joint effort between HAA and the Graduate School of Design to provide an academic path for students interested in architecture. Sixteen sophomores and juniors enrolled in the track when it was introduced in November 2012, and those who remained were joined by nine sophomores who enrolled last November, from a total of about 70 HAA concentrators, according to HAA concentration advisor Thomas Batchelder.
Many students pursuing the track said the newness of it has made their experience more dynamic and made the track more receptive to feedback.
“Our experience and opinion of what’s happening is something they really care about and really take seriously,” said Alaina R. Murphy ’14, who joined the concentration track when it was introduced during her junior year. “It’s fun to be a part of something new, and it’s really nice that they take our opinion into account.”
Larkin P. D. McCann ’15 echoed Murphy’s sentiments, saying that he has enjoyed working with faculty members who have been open to ideas about improving the track.
“It’s very exciting to be part of something new, especially at a place like Harvard that’s sort of rested in so many traditions,” McCann said.
Students also said that they appreciate one of the unique aspects of the track—access to the Graduate School of Design, particularly through a set of required studio courses taught by Design School instructors.
Kathleen C. Hanley ’16 said that her favorite part of the track has been working in the studio.
“We’re basically being put through the same curriculum that they teach at the Graduate School of Design, which is an awesome opportunity as an undergraduate,” she said.
McCann said that the studio courses carry heavy workloads, often demanding 40 to 45 hours of work per week outside of class.
Liesl E. Ulrich-Verdeber ’15, another student in the track, said that she has viewed the program as a sort of preview of graduate school.
“It’s just amazing to be able to go over [to the School of Design]...and to see the students working and to be pulling all-nighters [like undergraduates],” she said, adding that she has enjoyed exposure to “some of the greatest minds and thinkers” in urban design.
Yet, Ulrich-Verderber said that the newness of the program has made its structure a bit unclear.
“As you go along, you’re finding out what classes are acceptable,” she said. “As with anything new, there are just some kinks to be worked out in terms of clarity.”
K. Michael Hays, the assistant dean of the Graduate School of Design, said that following the experience of providing architecture studies as an HAA track, the School of Design hopes to make the track a separate concentration “as soon as we can.”
He said that they believe they can make that transition “in a year or so.”
—Staff writer Vimal S. Konduri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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