Architecture University, Incorporated


  • Aaron Cayer



Architecture, University, Corporation, Firms, Practice


In the mid-1990s, urban sociologist Robert Gutman argued that the field of architecture was comprised of two discourses. In universities, one discourse centered on the history, theory, and culture of architecture, and at firms, another centered on pragmatic issues of construction and business. The strength of architecture as a field, he suggested, was predicated on bridges between the two. This article considers the rise of three different “university” initiatives within architecture firms that complicate Gutman’s observed divisions, including “Gensler University,” “Albert Kahn University,” and “SHoP U” at SHoP Architects. By considering the history and scope of these initiatives in tandem with changes to accreditation criteria of architecture schools in the United States, the article makes visible some of the misalignments between academia and practice, and it raises new questions about what it might take to educate architects who can transform a profession otherwise gripped by the hands of corporate capitalism.