The Mission of the A+CA is to foster collaboration among schools that are committed to fostering interdisciplinary educational and research efforts between the fields of architecture and construction, and to engage leading professionals and educators in support of these efforts.
The professions of architecture and construction are undergoing significant changes as they respond to multiple demands and opportunities to increase collaborative project work. They are propelled by changed societal and client expectations to more fully coordinate their formerly separate roles and responsibilities for the social, environmental, and financial performance of projects, while Building Information Models (BIM) and other digital technology provide emerging new vehicles for integration.
These changes in our built environment professions need to be reflected in the education of future professionals, with a major emphasis on fostering superior interdisciplinary knowledge, and team based skills that support synergy and innovation in the 21st century professional context.
Given this imperative, a consortium of the universities in the US that have both architecture and construction programs within the same college are prepared to act together to foster the necessary interdisciplinary and collaborative education needed by our professions. Such an alliance of these universities has a unique ability to play a leadership role in the development, pilot testing, assessment, and dissemination of courses and projects through coordination of the faculty, staff, and financial support for this activity.
Of the over 100 accredited schools of architecture and 61 degree programs in construction in the nation, 17 universities which compose the alliance contain degree programs in both architecture and construction in the same college. However, collectively these programs educate a significant percentage of the architecture construction undergraduate and graduate students in the nation. The deans and department heads from these alliance universities have been working at their individual colleges on creating closer contact and coursework between the architecture and construction programs for several years, developing and assessing new approaches through a range of faculty collaborations.
In 2004, deans and department heads of these colleges began meeting together to discuss ways to collaborate, and they have established working groups to share perspectives and showcase best practices for collaboration of architecture and construction programs. Two meetings of the deans of these colleges have been held each year. In addition, two mini-conferences, held in 2005 and again in 2007, attended by deans and department heads from both architecture and construction programs, were devoted to presentations by all schools and extensive discussions about assessments of pilot projects, replicable endeavors, and the many points of possible collaboration with one another. This type of informational exchange and “cross fertilization” has already prompted the participants consider appropriate adaptations for their own programs, and obtain valuable perspectives for their own university’s colleagues on pilot programs and concept proposals currently under development.
We have now determined that these gatherings and informal contacts are not sufficient to create the closer connections and potential joint endeavors we need to sustain our efforts.
Therefore, these schools are now prepared to partner with one another in a more formal, staffed consortium, and to enlist participation from our counterpoints in the professions.
As Architecture + Construction Alliance, we seek to become an active association focused on positively transforming the education of architects and constructors in response to the transformation taking place in the built environment professions and industries. Through this new vehicle, with a joint academic and practitioner advisory board, the member schools propose to undertake the following activities and actions:
Collaborative Culture – create a collaborative academic environment among faculty that fosters mutual respect and stimulates creative innovation among faculty in architecture, construction, and affiliated disciplines in our colleges and universities.
Interdisciplinary Courses – develop, pilot test, assess, and replicate a range of classes and projects that foster productive and mutually respectful teamwork among architecture, construction, and allied professional students
Training and Workshops - produce materials and conduct training sessions to broaden interdisciplinary teaching capacity within all professional colleges
Applied Research – support cross disciplinary and cross institutional faculty professional development and research in the teaching and practice of interdisciplinary education, including joint work with practitioners and professional organization working committees
Technology Pilots – engage practitioners and technology providers in beta testing and demonstration projects across the spectrum of our member universities
Financial Models – identify and create funding support for expanding and enhancing interdisciplinary education among our sister professions within each academic institution and jointly among consortium members.
The Architecture + Construction Alliance universities represent a diversity of cultures, locations, and university profiles, making them a good cross section for fostering a number of different models and approaches in interdisciplinary education. At the same time, taken together they share some important characteristics that makes their endeavors to work collaboratively in partnership with our professions even more critically important for our larger society and future generations:
Of the Alliance members 13 are in public universities, offering educational opportunities for diverse populations, and sharing public missions to produce graduates who will in some manner serve the states and regions that helped provide them with their education. Graduates of the programs enter the professional workforce in all US states.
The member schools are located in 10 states from coast to coast which taken together are estimated to absorb about 65% of all population growth in the US, and constitute up to 75% of all future construction and renovation activity in the entire nation.
As our professions together face the need to meet society's future growth needs and simultaneously address global environmental challenges, the regions and professionals served by the member schools and the professions in their regions have a heightened need for creatively integrative architects and constructors to meet the challenge.
Each of the schools has, on its own initiative, begun pilot programs in interdisciplinary education, and is committed to broadening its efforts and sharing best practices and lessons learned through academic and professional networks.