First Dunwoody Architecture Class Prepares to Graduate

Six Dunwoody students to earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree May 17.

Six Dunwoody graduates will take a step closer to becoming architects as they walk across the stage May 17 at the College’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony. The students are the first to graduate from Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture program.

The degree — which launched in fall of 2015 — is structured as a plus three stackable credential. Students enter the program with an Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Drafting & Design (or a related two-year architectural degree) and leave with a comprehensive, professional Bachelor of Architecture degree after the final three years.

Dunwoody is one of the only schools in the nation to use this structure.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

Several Dunwoody Architecture graduates at a final project presentation in 2015.

“Graduating our first class is a significant milestone in the academic and professional communities throughout our region,” said Architecture Program Manager John Dwyer.

“This is the first new school of architecture in more than 100 years in Minnesota and the only Bachelor of Architecture in the state. The significance of this moment cannot be understated, particularly as our city continues to rapidly grow.”

A new approach to architecture education

 Since day one, Dunwoody’s Bachelor of Architecture has flipped the standard model of architectural education.

Instruction from actively practicing faculty; real, hands-on projects; and training on current design software and equipment gives Dunwoody Architecture students a more practical and focused education than traditional Architecture degrees — a selling point for many of the College’s students.

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

Tyler Bares mapping out plans for the IFP Minnesota project

“I knew I wanted to be an architect,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Tyler Bares said. “It was between a couple of schools and I ended up at a more traditional, 4-year college. And there, I was expecting to learn something that was not even mentioned. The first class was about the theory of design — it wasn’t what I was ready for. I hardly went to class, and I didn’t enjoy it. At the end of the year I was debating, ‘do I change schools?’ ‘Do I change majors?’ Because I just could not stand it. And that’s when I toured Dunwoody.”

The approach has also reassured students that what they are learning is valuable and relevant.

“Learning about the technical side of architecture — the software used and various building methods — before theory, makes students more employable early on,” Bares said. “I started my first job in the architecture field just after my first year.”

Ensuring students find jobs in their field during school — and immediately after — is another building block of Dunwoody Architecture. During the 2016-17 school year, each Architecture student received an average of 14.2 job inquiries.*

“Oftentimes employers prefer to hire Dunwoody students and alumni because they are confident they are going to be working with someone who has a solid technical education,” soon-to-be Architecture graduate Gianna Madison said. “The field of architecture cannot and should not be taught in a vacuum. The quality and richness of Dunwoody’s Architecture curriculum is invaluable.”

A look back

Over the last three years, Architecture students have worked on a number of real assignments with real clients, including:

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Renderings from the Veterans’ Journey Home project

Projects from these partnerships have ranged from developing construction documents for veterans’ housing, to building acoustic sound panels, to designing an eco-friendly kitchen and dining hall.

The students have also studied in culturally rich places like Cuba, Barcelona, Italy, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco.

In 2017 and 2018, students and faculty contributed to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

It’s been quite the journey. And after five years, Commencement is finally in site for the Dunwoody Architecture graduates.

“I am elated to be graduating,” Madison said. “Graduation to me signifies that a huge milestone has been reached.”

And while a normal sleep schedule, time to travel, and no more homework are appealing to the grads, their biggest excitement is where their skills and talent will take them next.

 Ready for what’s next
Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

Gianna Madison measuring space for the IFP project installation

“Currently, I am employed with RSP Architects, where I intend to continue to work full-time,” Madison said. “At some point in my career, I would like to open up my own firm that provides housing and related resources to low-income families.”

Bares will also begin working full time at his current employer, Alliiance, upon graduation. He hopes to use the knowledge and skills he’s learned to make a difference in the world — especially in places like Puerto Rico.

“After traveling to Puerto Rico last semester and working on a residential design project for a neighborhood—I’ve really grown to love the island,” Bares said. “The people there are so generous, grateful, and welcoming. In their current situation, they need help, and they want help. I really hope I can continue to travel there and help in whatever ways I can.”

This sense of global perspective and responsibility is just one of the many ways these students have made Dwyer proud.

“The graduates have a strong sense of the impact their work and decisions will have on a global community,” he said. “They are poised to apply this in the world as leaders in the profession. I know they will do very well.”

Dunwoody’s Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

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*2016-17 Dunwoody Career Services Annual Report