History of Architecture at Illinois
The University of Illinois was among the first American institutions of higher learning to offer a curriculum in architecture. Until 1868 there were no architectural schools in the United States, although Thomas Jefferson has proposed one at the University of Virginia in 1814. American architects were either trained as apprentices or pursued studies abroad. The profession's growing awareness of the need for a professional architecture school in the United States was evidenced by the report of the Committee on Education at the first annual convention of the American Institute of Architects in 1867.
Even prior to this report, the recently appointed president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, William Barton Rogers, had recognized the need for formal professional training in architecture, and in 1865 appointed William R. Ware to his faculty for the specific purpose of establishing the first such curriculum. Ware spent a year in Europe preparing the program and in October 1868 the MIT architecture department opened with four students in the four-year course.
Almost a thousand miles to the west, another newly appointed leader, Regent John Milton Gregory, in another newly established center of learning, the Illinois Industrial University, also realized the need for formal professional training in architecture. Architecture was included in the Polytechnic Department of the proposed administrative structure Gregory presented to the trustees in May of 1867. The first student in this curriculum, Nathan Clifford Ricker arrived in Urbana at midnight on January 2, 1870; the proud tradition of architecture at Illinois began.
Nathan Clifford Ricker
While a student, Ricker studied under James W. Bellangee, a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in biology, and Harold M. Hansen, a Swedish architect who had studied for two additional years at the Preussische Bauakademie in Berlin. A formative experience in Ricker's education was the brief period he spent in Chicago during the autumn of 1871 as part of the Illinois National Guard, called upon to prevent looting in the fire-devastated city. Ricker later observed "It was indeed a great practical training, perhaps not equaled since the burning of Rome."
As a result of Regent Gregory's efforts, Ricker became the first graduate of an architecture program in the United States in 1873. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University celebrated their first graduations in June of that year also.
Ricker's capabilities were recognized early in his career as a student at Illinois. Regent Gregory saw him as a potential candidate for a teaching assignment in the newly established program and offered him a position upon graduation. As a condition of his appointment, Regent Gregory insisted that Ricker spend six months in Europe. There he attended the Vienna Exposition of 1873 and was visited a Russian carpentry shop. His most impressive experience, however, must have been his tour as a special student at the Bauakademie in Berlin. Ricker chose the Bauakademie over the École des Beaux Arts in Paris because he considered the quality of its program and pedagogy superior to the individualistic and competitive French system. The influences of Ricker's travel abroad reverberated throughout his career.
He returned to the Urbana and took up his new duties as head of the Department of Architecture in September of 1873. There were five students in the program, and Ricker's duties included supervising the university shop, making drawings for all new buildings, remodeling old ones, running levels for drains and installing sewer systems when needed, all in addition to teaching. For a dozen years Ricker continued to teach all courses in architecture, producing his own texts when those available proved unsuitable. Ricker's Elementary Graphical Statics and Construction of Trussed Roofs (1885) was the first book published by any member of the Illinois faculty.
Ricker's progress up the academic ladder was rapid. In 1874 he was advanced to Assistant Professor and in 1875 to Full Professor. In 1878 he became Dean of Engineering while continuing to serve as Head of the Department of Architecture. Amazingly, Ricker also served as University Architect, completing four major buildings and numerous smaller projects.
In 1890 Ricker introduced a four-year curriculum in architectural engineering, the first such curriculum in the country. The idea arose from Ricker's close involvement with Dankmar Adler, William LeBaron Jenney, and other Chicago architects and engineers responsible for the first high rise steel skeleton buildings. Ricker also believed that students fell into two major classes—those with design ability and those with ability for structural analysis and synthesis. After the introduction of the new curriculum, student enrollment was evenly divided between the two programs which Ricker felt gave support to his theory.
Ricker firmly believed that research was essential to the education of an architect. In 1903, Ricker helped establish the first engineering experiment station associated with an educational institution to further the research efforts of the faculty in engineering and architecture. Establishing an adequate library was also a pursuit of Ricker throughout his academic career. At Illinois, architecture was the first unit to have a departmental library. The impressive collection, which grew steadily with Ricker's stewardship, was formally named in his honor in recognition of his forty-third year of service to the university in 1917.
Ricker's devotion to the profession extended beyond the university setting. In 1897 he and Dankmar Adler, worked to move the architectural registration act of Illinois through the state legislature. The act was modeled after the state's existing regulatory systems in medicine and law. The origins of architectural licensing in the United States can be traced to the passage of this legislation. The first Illinois Architect's Registration Board exam was given in 1898, and by 1902 Ricker was able to convince the board to adopt a rule which provided that any graduate of an approved four-year curriculum in architecture was qualified to take the registration exam.
Ricker retired from his illustrious career at the age of 74.
In 1922 a convocation was held in honor of Dr. Ricker marking his fiftieth year of service to the university and the Department of Architecture. He had seen the program enrollment increase from an average of eight students during his first decade to two-hundred-and-fifty at the time of the convocation. At the turn of the century, approximately one quarter of all students regularly attending American architectural schools were enrolled at the University of Illinois.
Frederick Mann, Loring Provine and Rexford Newcomb
Dr. Ricker's successsor as head of the Department of Architecture was Frederick M. Mann, a graduate of the University of Minnesota in civil engineering and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in architecture, who had served as Professor of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis from 1902 to 1910. Professor Mann remained at Urbana for three years, then resigned to accept the headship of the department at the University of Minnesota.
Upon Mann's departure, Loring H. Provine, who had been a student of Ricker, was brought back into academic life to head the department after completing a decade of work in the design and erection of power-generating plants. Professor Provine continued as head for thirty-five years until 1948. Thus Ricker and Provine together provided administrative direction for nearly three-quarters of a century. The eminence of the Department during these years is attested by the numerous awards it and its students received and by the enthusiastic reception given to its graduates by architectural firms throughout the world.
In 1931 the College of Fine and Applied Arts was formed by Dean Rexford Newcomb, the pioneering scholar of the history of Spanish colonial architecture and the father of regional architectural history. Newcomb was well known for his careful and authoritative class outlines of monuments and his books on the architecture of Kentucky and the Old Northwest. Like Ricker, he was especially active in state and national professional organizations. At that time, the Department of Architecture came over to the College of Fine and Applied Arts from Engineering.
Turpin C. Bannister, Alan K. Laing and Granville S. Keith
Newcomb chose as head of architecture from 1948 to 1954 Turpin C. Bannister, a graduate of Dennison, Harvard, and Columbia Universities. He was famous for his knowledge and research on concrete and iron. He was also one of the earliest innovators of the preservation movement, including the field of industrial archaeology. Bannister organized and wrote much of the remarkable Architect at Mid-Century for the Centennial of the American Institute of Architects. It was a thorough study of the profession and its education up to the mid 1950s. He was the first editor and a founder of the Society of Architectural Historians, and was its president, as was Newcomb. Under Bannister the architecture curriculum was revised, modernized, and expanded from four to five years.
In 1954, Professor Alan K. Laing, a graduate of the University of Denver, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, was appointed chairman of the department. He continued with the implementation of the five year curriculum, initiated studies for further curriculum revision, and worked diligently to strengthen ties with the profession and alumni. In 1961 he relinquished administrative work to return to teaching and research.
Professor Granville S. Keith, who received both bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois and studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1928-29 as a Plym Fellow, succeeded Professor Laing and served until 1966. Under his administration alumni support for fellowships and scholarships was expanded and work begun toward the establishment of a program of resident study in Europe for students in the department.
Jack H. Swing and G. Day Ding
In 1966, Professor Jack H. Swing, who received his degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from the University of Illinois returned from the planning of a new agricultural college in India to assume administrative direction of the Department. Under his leadership the program of European study, which has developed into the Study Abroad Program at Versailles, was established—the first program for foreign study in the university. In 1969 the curriculum was revised to lead to the professional Master of Architecture degree at the end of six years of study. This change allowed for more concentrated areas of professional studies in the final phase of the graduate program. Through a choice of options in the final year, specific areas of concentration are offered by each of the teaching divisions affording the graduate student an opportunity to select an area for study in depth.
R. Alan Forrester and Interim Director Michael Andrejasich
Shortly after R. Alan Forrester was appointed as executive officer of the program in 1981, the designation of the unit as the Department of Architecture was changed to the School of Architecture recognizing its equivalence to other major academic units in the college and elsewhere on campus. The title of the chief administrative position also changed from head to director.
Over the last twenty years there have been five areas in which the School and its programs have been significantly advanced. The first concerns the development of advanced study programs. Joint masters degree programs with Business (Business Administration and Finance), Civil Engineering (Construction Management), Computer Science, Landscape Architecture, and Urban and Regional Planning have been developed. Proposals for new programs in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structures and a Master of Science in Building Science and Construction Technology are under consideration. A Ph.D. program jointly administered with the Department of Landscape Architecture was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in Fall 1999 and admitted its first candidates in the Fall of 2001.
The second area relates to the School's activities in the international arena. During the last several years the long-standing undergraduate Study Abroad Program in Versailles and our exchange arrangement with the Ecole d'Architecture de Versailles has been strengthened. In 1987 a summer program jointly operated within the Departments of Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning was inaugurated with the School of Architecture at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. In 1988 an exchange program in the names of Walter Burley and Marion Griffin was formed between our School and the Department of Architecture and Building at the University of Melbourne in Australia; and in 1991 a faculty exchange program was established with the Moscow Institute of Architecture in Russia. In 1999 the School changed the Versailles Committee into the International Programs Committee and expanded its mission to include the planning and oversight of all international programs. An international programs coordinator was appointed from the faculty. The first graduate student exchange with the Technical Institute in Munich occurred in the summer of 2000 and the first faculty exchange with the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow began in the fall of 2000.
The third area focuses on computer technology and its introduction to our curriculum. This initially involved the creation of computer nodes at appropriate locations and selected studios dedicated to computer-aided design and imaging applications. Since 1998 the School has made significant progress in improving access to computer, digital, and information technology to students and increasing faculty capacity to deliver technology based instruction. Computing has expanded beyond the design studio and impacts every facet of our curriculum with application that model and simulate building structures, lighting conditions, acoustics, energy use, and construction economics. Among the architecture faculty are NCSA (National Center for Super-computing Applications) Fellows, participants in the Critical Research Initiative and recipients of Madden Initiative Grants for exploration of the intersections of the Arts and Technology.
In the fourth area, considerable effort has been made to create private funding and independent support for the School. The establishment of an Office for Alumni Affairs in 1987 and the appointment in November 1994 of Leanne Courson as Associate Director of Development has produced increased activity. Since then development efforts have yielded additional major endowments and gifts to the School of nearly $10 million. Improved communications, support, and cooperative programs with alumni and the profession have also been successfully established.
Finally, in spring 1999 and in response to AIA demands and pending changes to the Illinois Architecture Practice Act, the School launched its continuing education program through the Building Research Council. This program continues to offer new courses in locations convenient to our practice constituency. The Building Research Council is also developing new delivery methods of instruction such as web-based courses and self-directed learning materials.
There have been twelve chief administrators of the architecture program at UIUC:
1873-1910 Dr. Nathan Clifford Ricker, Head
1910-1913 Professor Fredrick M. Mann, Head
1913-1948 Professor Loring H. Provine, Head
1948-1954 Dr. Turpin C. Bannister, Head
1954-1961 Professor Alan K. Laing, Chairman
1961-1966 Professor Granville S. Keith, Chairman
1966-1969 Professor Jack H. Swing, Chairman
1969-1973 Professor Jack H. Swing, Head
1973 Professor Richard L. Tavis, Acting Head
1973-1980 Professor G. Day Ding, Head
1980-1981 Professor Richard L. Tavis, Acting Head
1981 Professor R. Alan Forrester, Head
1981-1995 Professor R. Alan Forrester, Director
1995-1996 Professor Hub White, Acting Director
1996-1998 Professor R. Alan Forrester, Director
1999-2000 Michael J. Andrejasich, Acting Director
2000-2004 Michael J. Andrejasich, Interim Director
2004- David M. Chasco, Director
During 1995-96, Professor Forrester served as Interim Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.