Welcome to the New Jersey School of Architecture!
Architecture schools are one-of-a-kind places where everyone is on a first name basis. My name is Darius and I have been a practicing architect for twenty five years and a teacher for almost as long. Architects are a tight-knit group who continue a way of thinking about the built world started thousands of years ago. But it’s not just about buildings anymore. Today, architecture schools train leaders who apply design strategies to any issue or problem. Below I’d like to tell you what makes the NJSOA unique.
First, let me tell you that the NJSOA is the largest school of architecture on the US’s east coast. Size and location benefit our school enormously. We are also minutes away from New York City, home by far to more design professionals than any other US city. Every major firm practicing globally has their home office or at least a major branch here. These firms employ many of today’s most experienced practitioners and attract the most talented young architects from around the world who choose to start their careers here. More than two thirds of our faculty come from this pool of expertise and talent, bringing a blend of rich experience and fresh out-of-the-box thinking to our classes. And because of our size, the chances are great for a student to study with someone whose work and outlook they find exciting. At the NJSOA, experts will lead you in designing at all scales: from a house producing all its own energy to a future regional transportation system. By taking courses at our sister School of Art and Design, you can also learn to design everything from the newest handheld to the virtual worlds of Xbox. We are also one of the largest research universities in the US. Students working in clusters with faculty have helped raised millions in funding and prize money to do real work that matters. Because of our work with Habitat for Humanity we won the 2010 NCARB Prize. As part of the Solar Decathlon, we were one of 19 schools chosen to build a zero energy house on the Mall in Washington in 2011. This year, we were competitively selected to participate in the Chinese Solar Decathlon.
Second, we are a digital school and have been one since architecture schools first applied computers. In my lifetime we have gone from designing with pencils, rulers and blueprints to building across the globe by clicking on a digital model. And at every step in that transition, the NJSOA has been ahead of the game. In 1985, we were the first US architecture school to introduce 3D modeling in digital design studios, and the first to use computers in the freshman year. Today we are leaders in Building Information Modeling, or BIM, 4D design and the application of nano-technology to building systems. Our adoption of digital media follows a strong tradition here and our faculty and students are digitally savvy. Our students enter the job market with direct experience of some of the world’s best firms and with the digital skills to thrive in them.
Finally, I’d like to tell you about our students. As an academic who has visited many schools around the world, I can proudly say that we have an incredibly engaged student body. We have four separate student organizations that bind our school together. These groups form a nucleus that everyone benefits from. You don’t have to be an organization’s member to take advantage of the trips, programs and the YouTube tutorials they produce. My favorite is the end of semester ball, where everyone - faculty and students – have a blast. And if you come to study here, those same students will help you with your computer software - not because anyone pays them to do it - but because someone once helped them. They take the close-knit community and the thousands of years of tradition very seriously. Our student organizations also run a volunteer printing service where they stay up late to help print your final projects. They charge for the service but you know where it goes? It buys books for our library and brand new digital manufacturing devices. NJSOA students are design leaders and entrepreneurs as well.
People will tell you that who you meet in college and the experiences you have together set the tone for the rest of your life. There are incredible people at the New Jersey School of Architecture; the faculty, the professionals who teach many of our classes and especially our students. Each new challenge we face together turns into an opportunity. That’s the kind of place the New Jersey School of Architecture is. And remember, we’re always on a first name basis here.
Darius Sollohub, AIA
Director, New Jersey School of Architecture