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Instruction in architecture was first given in the University in 1875. Of an appropriation made at that time for the then School of Mines of this University the Board of Regents decided to devote one-third to the "School of Architecture and Design," and appointed W. L. B. Jenney Professor of Architecture. Six students registered for the degree in architecture during its first year, while a number of others elected part of the courses. The first appropriation carried the department over its first two years when, owing to the failure of the legislature to make a further appropriation, the work was discontinued, some of the students who had registered in architecture subsequently graduating with engineering degrees. Among those early students who are now practicing architecture are the following: Mr. I. K. Pond, 79, of Pond and Pond, Chicago, recently President of the American Institute of Architects; Mr. George L. Fisher, '80, of Fisher and Lawrie, Omaha; and Mr. Wm. A. Otis, 78, of Otis and Clark, Chicago. Mr. O. C. Simonds, 78, another student, has since been engaged in landscape gardening.

After the discontinuance of the original department, Professor Jenney engaged most successfully in the practice of his profession in Chicago, and is credited with having first worked out in that city the principle of modern steel frame construction which has made possible the high building of today.

It is most unfortunate that the work in architecture was not continued for there were but a few institutions in which such instruction was then being given and this university thus lost an opportunity to be one of the pioneers in the field. No further provision was made for teaching architecture until 1906, when, owing to a general demand for such a course, and through the efforts of the architects of the State, the department was re-established by the Board of Regents.

In the meantime the Department of Engineering, originally a part of the Department of Literature, Science and the Arts, had become an independent department, and thus the Department of Architecture, for convenience of administration, was made a sub-department of the Department of Engineering. By this time architectural education had become well recognized in the United States. The technique of its instruction had in many respects been carefully worked out, and the old query as to whether an architect needed any technical training had been definitely answered in the affirmative. It had also come to be recognized that architecture is a distinct profession, not merely a by-product of engineering. There were indeed grave doubts in the minds of some as to whether the new department belonged properly under the engineering wing; it was feared that the difference in point of view might be disadvantageous to the engineering students. A similar fear in regard to the architectural students was expressed by architects based on the experience of several architectural schools, which had been organized tinder like conditions.

It was therefore with some misgivings that those to whom the work of organization and teaching was actually entrusted entered upon the task of building up a new Department of Architecture at a time when the older schools had reached a high degree of development. But, notwithstanding these misgivings and doubts, the engineers have kept on their way unperturbed, protected by their overwhelming numbers against the influence of the aesthetic; on the other hand the architects, with their own peculiar problems, have gone on, differentiating their work as was necessary and inevitable. The Department of Engineering has given an unexpectedly large measure of co-operation and support to the Architectural School, most willingly establishing special classes in those strictly engineering subjects of which the architect requires but a general knowledge or to which he cannot devote as much time in a four year course as the man who expects to specialize in them. The special classes are those in heating and ventilation, building illumination, and drawing, in which latter field the requirements for architectural students lie far beyond those for all others.

The value of a good general education for the architect cannot be over-emphasized, but an early beginning in preparatory architectural studies, wherein as in all art studies so much depends upon "catching your Scotchman young," is equally important. This latter is particularly true in a country where the lack of artistic environment and of adequate preliminary training in drawing seriously handicaps architectural education, making it necessary to give all or most of the preliminary and subsequent technical training, as well as the elements of a general education, in four years. The general education here given consists of required and elective courses in English, language, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, history of art, economics and philosophy, in addition to which most of the architectural students elect one course in landscape design.

Two professors, one assistant professor and two instructors give the technical instruction in architecture. Together they represent training in the leading architectural schools in this country and abroad as well as a wide range of professional experience. There are also a number of teaching assistants, chosen from among the more advanced and experienced students, who work under the direction of an instructor.

The instruction consists of one course in decorative design, eight courses in architectural design, one course in allied arts of design, and four courses in the history of Architecture, four courses in building construction, one course in plumbing and drainage and two courses in engineering mechanics. All the work in construction for regular architectural students is given by the architectural department, while at present the architectural engineers take some of this work with the civil engineers.

Beginning with 1907 there has been a gradual re-adjustment of the architectural programs, so that commencing with 1912 all students in architecture began preparatory courses in drawing and elementary construction parallel with the general studies in the freshman year. The first year now being practically identical for all architectural students, they may at its close decide which of three programs they will follow. There is a general four-year course, which aims to train the all-round man; a course of similar length in which architectural design is emphasized and a third four-year course, known as Architectural Engineering, in which the structural work of the architect forms the major subject. There is also a two-year course for experienced architectural draftsmen.

These programs correspond fairly well with what is desired by and necessary for the architectural profession. Those students who can spend more than the usual four years in college are urged to do so, thus to gain more cultural and technical training. Travel in this country and abroad is also of the greatest importance for architectural students.

The first two programs with their emphasis on art studies, bring out the essential difference between engineering and architecture, for while engineering deals in the large primarily with utilitarian conditions, architecture must not only meet this demand, but must also satisfy the aesthetic sense. In this age of specialization where experts are available in the more standardized, though by no means fully mastered technical fields, the power of design has become the characteristic mark of the architect. A competition, between architects of proven ability, is judged by experts on the basis not of structural drawings, but upon the skill, which the architect demonstrates in the disposition of the requirements in plan, and upon the degree of artistic character with which he is able to infuse the obvious utilitarian requirements. It is this less tangible, inseparable phase of architecture, which makes it one of the fine arts. It is, to a great extent, this compelling quality in the monuments of the past, which brings travelers by the thousands to foreign cities and shrines of art. And it is this quality again which is most difficult to teach or to demonstrate to those whose outlook on life is narrowly "practical." The following may serve to make its importance clear.

In making the preliminary studies for a particular building the architect aims to canvass all the possibilities of a problem and to interpret as clearly as possible the requirements. Upon their completion considerable routine and detail work of the most varied character remains, all of which must fit into the general conception at once utilitarian, constructive and artistic, or the "general scheme" of the design. Hence the importance of the designer" in architectural practice and the emphasis placed on design for architectural students, as against the emphasis on structural design for the architectural engineers, who become one of the chief and, if properly trained, sympathetic instruments in the final realization of a project. If twenty-five students were given the same structural design problem, it would be found that their solutions might be very nearly identical, while in the case of a like number of students an architectural problem would bring out almost as many different solutions as there are students. Obviously, this variety of solution due to the individuality of the students and the nature of the subject brings with it distinct problems in teaching. The importance of developing each individual in the class is greater and far more difficult than in a subject of more concrete character. It becomes a matter of direct touch between student and instructor, of daily criticism in the drafting room, from the first thumbnail sketch or rough idea to the finished floor plans, sections and elevations, which portray the organism of the building.

The architect must visualize the entire building before the work of construction begins. To this end a great variety of problems are given the student to acquaint him with the requirements of different kinds of buildings, to develop his power of analysis and the constructive imagination without which he would be worth little in the field of architecture. This work implies that drawing must be practiced constantly in order that it may become a facile vehicle for the ideas of the designer, for always the central idea and the taste, judgment and knowledge with which it is evolved and expressed are of the utmost importance.

Rapidly changing modern requirements and slowly forming artistic tradition meet and must be harmonized in modern architecture. New needs have brought new problems, which never have been solved before. Owing to the rush and pressure of modern business conditions, the architect is often compelled to work out in a short time, problems which in former years would have received a long period of preliminary study. Owing to this time factor, the architect has all too often applied the forms of the past as mere decoration to the structural frame of today. While this process of adaptation has resulted in some very interesting buildings, and the influence of tradition has been, in many ways, a wholesome and restraining one, it has not yet provided an American style which many seem to think should spring "like Athena full-grown from the head of Jove." Architectural form, like language, does not grow rapidly. It is obvious that anything that is to be worthwhile in this field, while taking cognizance of the experience of the past, can only come as the result of serious study and gradual evolution rather than from a process of superficial adaptation.

It is the duty of the architectural school to impress on its students the need of a proper attitude in this regard by directing their studies in design along proper channels. The desire to cultivate taste through admiration for the finest monuments of the past has all too often been accomplished at the expense of a proper conception of present day possibilities and needs. Thus in the courses in the history of architecture may be brought out the close relationship between design and the peoples who created it, and by a study of all the attendant conditions may be shown the absurdity of merely traditional design today when construction is practically unlimited in its possibilities and need not be clothed in forms born of primitive building methods.

Hence the evolution of architectural form, construction, planning and decoration from primitive building to the present time is traced and the important monuments are discussed, the stereoptican serving to illustrate them in their general aspect and detail, while by means of the library this material may be reviewed and additional work done limited only by the time at the disposal of the student.

Elementary or "practical" building construction and the courses in mathematics and mechanics which are required as a preparation for advanced building construction, together absorb considerable time during three years, both in the class and drafting room. Occasional visits of inspection are also made to buildings in the course of erection. The principles of construction, building materials and building processes are emphasized and applications are worked out in structures of wood, masonry, fireproof, steel and reinforced concrete construction. As an extension of this work the students enrolled in one of the programs of study are required to spend two of the summer vacations in the offices of architects or with builders, a provision that it is hoped soon to extend to the other two programs.

These courses are followed by what is termed "building equipment,"—heating and ventilation, building sanitation and illumination, fields in which the expert service of the specialist is often essential. Today such experts are constantly consulted or actually employed in the larger architectural offices where enough work of great magnitude is done to warrant it.

During the Renaissance in Italy, when building was done in a more leisurely and artistic manner, the architect was often a sculptor or a painter as well, Michael Angelo being a master in all three arts. Today the architect must have enough knowledge of allied art fields to co-operate with the sculptor and carver in stone and wood, the mural painter, the decorator and furnisher, artistic workers and special designers in glass, mosaics, metal work, textiles and landscape gardening; moreover, as a man of affairs and an administrator dealing with clients, contractors and labor, he finds another important field of activity.

While ideally desirable that the architect be expert in all these allied fields, it is manifest that such omniscience is denied to men at the end of a four-year course or an infinitely longer one. Indeed, the impossibility today of master in all fields of architecture by even the most accomplished practitioner has led to specialization within the architectural field. There are know, as a result, architects who specialize in the design and construction of single classes of buildings, such as hospitals, theatres, schools, churches, office buildings, residential work or city planning, and who in doing this work employ a corps of experts.

Beginning with nineteen students in 1906, the registration has steadily increased to 120 during the present year, an exceptionally rapid growth for such a division of instruction. The first class was graduated in 1909. These and other former students are doing very satisfactorily, a number of them having already become successful independent practitioners.

After a number of years of strenuous effort the Department of Architecture is now permitted to have special students under more favorable conditions than formerly, and more nearly on a basis like that permitted in other architectural schools. Such students must be 21 years of age, must have had at least two years' experience in an architect's office and must be properly prepared for the courses they wish to pursue. Experience in architectural schools generally shows that these students are an extremely valuable adjunct to the work of instruction. Their experience, earnestness, enthusiasm, and definiteness of purpose have a splendid influence on the less experienced college student.

In the fall of 1912 a new grading system was put into effect for the work in architectural design. This plan puts each student even more largely on his own merits, places a premium on individual effort and is one of the best things that has been introduced into the department. It enables a talented student to complete the required number of courses in design in less time than is required by students of average ability, while the unwilling student readily eliminates himself. Thus a student who has completed the required number of courses in design is enabled to pursue more cultural or additional technical work during his senior year.

Notwithstanding the fact that the architectural students work very hard and have exceptionally long hours in the drafting room, they contribute their full share to many of the campus activities. Their former classification as "engineers" obscured this fact from the superficial observer, but now that they are beginning to be known as "architects" they must soon receive the full recognition here, which has been accorded such instruction, elsewhere, and which is desirable for a profession of such distinct achievement and long standing. When the first step in this direction was taken by the Board of Regents in July, 1913, when the Department of Architecture became a practically independent department, and part of the organization known as the Departments of Engineering and Architecture. It now admits its students and controls its courses and student affairs.

The presence and activities of this branch of instruction have fostered a wider interest in the need of a broad policy with respect to the location and character of the buildings erected for the University, has helped crystallize interest in art studies, and has itself been strengthened by the provision which has fortunately been made for instruction in the history of art.

The educational work of the department has won the approval of those who believe that the architectural school should aim to produce potential architects rather than merely skilled draftsmen. The department is on the list of approved schools of the American Institute of Architects and of the Illinois State Examining Board, whose examinations are more severe than those of any other state, restricting the right to practice architecture to those who can demonstrate their fitness. The department is also a charter member of the recently organized Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and has received even' recognition that has been extended to the older schools.

The equipment consists of illustrative material, the drafting and classrooms. The illustrative material consists of lantern, slides, books, plates, photographs, original drawings by architects and plaster casts of architectural and decorative form. The stereopticon vividly shows the most inspiring productions of the past and the best work of current architectural practice, the views serving as a basis of suggestion and comparison in connection with the exercises in design and construction. Thus may be shown various designs for a school, church, or office building or the effect of fire on various forms of construction. The plaster casts are used for the study of form and drawing. The architectural library, which is the laboratory for these students, is of particular importance and is used to an extraordinary degree.

The drafting rooms are situated on the main floor of the New Engineer Ingo Building, adjoining the beautiful Engineering Library, thus facilitating ready access to its shelves. These rooms are fitted with specially designed drawing tables and are illuminated most effectively by a system devised by the department. The free-hand drawing room is situated on the top floor. This is lighted by a great north skylight and contains the collection of casts and a number of valuable original drawings in color, wash and pen and ink.

The most important need, next to additional space, is an endowment for a traveling fellowship, which would enable one graduate to go abroad each year for a period of study. Such a prize, awarded on the basis of scholarship and personal fitness, would be an all-powerful incentive for advanced work, while the work sent here by the traveling fellow would inspire even greater enthusiasm than now exists among the students.

At no time in the history of the United States has there been so much interest in good architecture. Never before has there been so excellent an outlook for the trained architect. Architects everywhere are demanding more trained assistants than the architectural schools can supply. Classes of buildings, which formerly were hardly considered from an artistic point of view, such as factories, warehouses and the like are now, being designed by architects. Our great corporations have come to a realization of the value of buildings, which are at once adequate, attractive and interesting. Cities everywhere, by means of general improvement plans, are recognizing the need of good design in everything, and in this civic plan development the architect is playing a most important part; even in engineering projects our municipalities will no longer permit the erection of bridges which are merely strong, but are associating architects with engineers to assure the creation of something that will be permanently pleasing as well as useful.

The art development, of which architecture forms but a part, has barely begun in this country. So long as this country continues its marvelous growth highly trained men will be needed to give form to building projects of the most varied character. The prospect is therefore full of promise for the architect and hence for the architectural school.

The Michigan Alumnus

April 1914, Pages 399-406

History of the University of Michigan

Department of Architecture

By Emil Lorch