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I am often asked to describe what architecture is all about and what architects actually do. A common response would be that architecture is a blending of the arts and the sciences. It has often been described as a third way of learning about and engaging the world that combines our rational side, as manifested in technical opportunities for improving the built environment, and those more poetic ways of knowing that cannot be quantified but help us explore what it means to be human in a particular place in the world.
These characterizations are true but don¹t quite capture the essence of what we do. Perhaps what is fundamental is not the means by which we explore a re-shaping of the built environment, but the ends. Architecture is at its core an endeavor that seeks to engage the public realm. Yes, it is in part an art, but it is almost never about or for oneself. Instead it is a form of cultural and creative expression that is always in the service of others. When we are at our best, the architect¹s role is not the expression of a personal vision, but is balanced by the awareness that our work is always co-authored by those who occupy our work.
It is this perspective of service and leadership that is also a distinguishing feature of the architecture program at UDM. In our undergraduate and graduate architecture programs, our digital media program, and our masters of community development program our students grow and learn in a community that nurtures them to become leaders who have all the skills and knowledge they need to launch an exciting career filled with opportunities to improve our communities and the lives of our neighbors.
If you are interested as an alumnus, a community partner, a colleague, or a prospective student in joining that effort, we welcome you.
-Will Wittig, AIA, LEED AP