Pecking Order

Every year a ranking of schools of architecture comes out, most recently compiled by Design Intelligence. A couple of years ago, I decided to do an unscientific ranking of my own, not based on what architecture deans think, or who employers are hiring, or the current enrollment statistics, but on the long-term product, that is, which schools produce the largest number of really outstanding architects. I compiled a list of the “best” living architects by starting with Priztker Prize winners, AIA Gold Medal recipients, Driehaus Prize winners, and then adding as many names of first-rank prominent practitioners (not academics) as I could think of. I ended up with 55 names. The results? A smattering of regional schools has one or two names, an outstanding alumni such as Steven Holl (Washington), Peter Bohlin (Carnegie Melon), or Michael Graves (Cincinnati). The top four ranks are occupied by (predictably) mostly the Ivy League. Cornell, Princeton, MIT and IIT have 5 percent of the list each; Penn, Columbia and Berkeley have 7 percent each; and mighty Harvard has 10 percent. The surprising result is that fully 40 percent of the names on my list are Yale grads. That is, as scientists say, statistically significant.

God as Architect, French illumination, 3th c.

One Response to Pecking Order

  • Jared Banks says:

    I’d be curious to see how that list looks not just in absolute terms of where those 55 architects come from (would love to see the list by the way!), but as it relates to total number of architectural graduates from each of those programs. How big of a factor is school size? If a school like Rice University shows up on the list with one or two people is that a larger percentage of its graduates than say the 5% from IIT from the same time period? And if so, does that say anything?

    By the way, love everything you write!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *