Department of Architecture

Departmental Honors Spotlight

Each quarter, the University Honors Program showcases the remarkable work done by Honors students and faculty within their majors. While the programs vary from discipline to discipline, most typically conclude in a major research or artistic project and all challenge the students to bring their work to the next level. We hope that you enjoy discovering the many and diverse Honors programs in the departments around campus!

Undergraduate Program Director
Honors Program Director (Architecture)

Kathryn R. Merlino
Kathryn R. Merlino

The Department of Architecture, within the College of Built Environments, is a close-knit community of educators, scholars and professional architects that value excellence in teaching and research and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our undergraduate program curriculum in architecture covers the fields of design, history/theory, building science and critical practice. We teach students from a broad set of horizons, the traditions of architecture within the context of social and technological change, a legacy of craft in the making of architecture, activist and community-based design processes, and the principals of ethical action to address human and environmental concerns.

Our students are a dedicated group of who come into the program in their junior year after a rigorous set of pre-requisite courses followed by a competitive entry process. For admissions, they are required to submit a written essay and a portfolio of creative work that reflects their work in art and design. With a typical 48% admissions rate, our students are some of the best in their promise for academic success in the field of architecture and design, and our Departmental Honors program is designed to challenge those students in the program who have had excellent progress and wish to build upon their academic success

Our honors program requires three courses to replace their electives in their senior year of study. Two courses are selected from a graduate list of seminars in history or theory of architecture, and one final capstone independent study with a faculty mentor in the last quarter of study. These intensive research projects are typically written papers on an area of research chosen by the student, and reflective of a topic that was touched on in their academic career. The projects teach intensive scholarly research and writing on design; often a difficult subject to write about. With guidance and perseverance, the projects are edited and re-written over the course of the quarter, and the student ends up with a substantial paper and topic that they are extremely familiar with. With a high GPA requirement to achieve Departmental Honors, the students are challenged to add higher levels of research and writing to their tenure in the department, and are prepared to face graduate level study (which many of our students pursue) or professional careers after their departure.

Gawon Shin
Gawon Shin

Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, 2011
Departmental Honors

As the president of the student organization, AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students), Gawon raised the bar in terms of leadership, design and scholarship. She lead the department in activities such as reviving the Beaux Arts Ball (a yearly architecture school tradition of a spring masquerade dance), organizing lectures and creating new design competitions with her peers for students. In her honors program over the course of her senior year, she took advanced graduate seminars in history and theory, and wrote excellent, in-depth research papers. For her independent study, Gawon wanted to test theories of adaptive reuse of buildings in three different cultures; her native Korea, Italy and the United States. The project compared the building traditions, construction materials and methods and tested theories of why cultures build and rebuild or build and tear down, and proposed ideas for both in the age of environmental awareness. Gawon is now applying to competitive graduate programs, and knows the honors program will give her an academic edge on her resume.