Art and Architecture reconfigured under new Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis will reconfigure its nationally ranked programs in architecture and art, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced today.

Effective immediately, the School of Architecture will be organized as the undergraduate College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. Similarly, the School of Art will become the undergraduate College of Art and the Graduate School of Art.

Sam Fox School construction
The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is currently constructing two new buildings, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Hall, both designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki. When completed in fall 2006, the new buildings will be integrated with three historic structures to form a comprehensive, five-building arts campus. Photo by Stan Strembicki, professor of art.

“Graduate and professional education is a key priority for Washington University,” said Wrighton, noting that approximately half of all Washington University students — about 6,000 — are candidates for master’s or doctoral degrees. “Creation of the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design and the Graduate School of Art as units within the Sam Fox School will help foster a more robust academic environment, one that will further our ability to train the next generation of leaders in these disciplines.”

The new nomenclature follows the model of Arts & Sciences at Washington University, which includes the undergraduate College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Jeff Pike, who has served as dean of Art since 1999, will continue to lead both the College of Art and the Graduate School of Art. Jerome J. Sincoff, FAIA, who succeeded Cynthia Weese as dean of architecture in July, will lead the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. Both will report to the dean of the Sam Fox School. A national search for that dean is now under way.

Sincoff noted that, while the Sam Fox School remains committed to strong undergraduate programs in art and architecture, formation of the new graduate schools builds on a series of recent initiatives designed to improve graduate and professional education.

“In recent years, Architecture has launched a post-professional Master of Urban Design degree, which draws on architecture, landscape and planning perspectives,” Sincoff said. “At the same time, we’ve launched a series of dual-degree programs that take advantage of our setting within a larger university. These allow students to combine a Master of Architecture or a Master of Urban Design with a Master of Business Administration, Master of Social Work or Master of Construction Management.”

Pike added that formation of the Graduate School of Art coincides with the introduction this fall of a new Master of Visual Arts degree.

“In the past, Art has offered master’s degrees in individual disciplines such as painting, sculpture and photography,” Pike explained. “The Master of Visual Arts will cultivate a more collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, one that is more reflective of the current state of the profession. It will also provide students with a broader range of faculty and studio resources.”

In addition to its four academic units, the Sam Fox School — which was announced last January and formally takes effect July 1, 2006 — will encompass the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, home to one of the nation’s finest university art collections.

Previously, Art and Architecture were the smallest of Washington University’s units, with fewer than 400 students apiece. The combined Sam Fox School will total almost 750 students, composed of approximately 350 undergraduate and 25 graduate students in Art as well as 200 undergraduate and 175 graduate and professional students in Architecture.

Formation of the Sam Fox School comes amidst a $56.8 million campaign to improve university arts facilities. Plans include two new buildings — now under construction and scheduled to open in fall 2006 — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, as well as extensive renovations to three adjacent buildings: Bixby, Steinberg and Givens halls.

“The Sam Fox School will allow Washington University to strengthen ties between our outstanding design and visual arts areas,” Wrighton concluded. “It will create a larger-scale academic enterprise with greater resources and flexibility, one that will enhance the quality, visibility and impact of our programs both on campus and throughout the academic and professional worlds.”