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Michigan Architecture Prep program opens doors to Detroit high schoolers

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Michigan Architecture Prep program opens doors to Detroit high schoolers

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014,  the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning hosted an opening event for its Michigan Research Studio - a 3,700 square foot space in Midtown Detroit.

The space is home to Michigan Architecture Prep (ArcPrep), a new program hosted by Taubman College, which will introduce 38 high school juniors from Detroit Public Schools (DPS) to the multi-faceted discipline of architecture. Starting next month, enrolled students from Cass Technical High School, Detroit School of Arts, and Western International High School will take an immersive, semester-long college preparatory course on architecture, urbanism and integrated design studio practices. The course will meet daily during the academic term for three hours.

"Buildings are an important measure of civilizations and cultures, and I believe that a lack of diversity in the profession is bad not only for the field of architecture, but also for society," said Monica Ponce de Leon, Taubman College Dean. "If you have a profession that has no diversity, you end up with buildings representing a very narrow segment of the culture.  Taubman College has had a long-standing tradition of initiatives to increase diversity in the profession and the Architecture Prep Program is the next step in our efforts."

Students will take sudio courses in architecture for high school credit. "Our motivation is to expose high school students to the discipline of architecture, in ways that they would otherwise not be exposed," said Dean Ponce de Leon.

U-M President Mark Schlissel attended the event and addressed the audience of DPS administrators, principals, students and their families, as well as Taubman College faculty, staff, alumni and donors.

“I envision great opportunities arising from this initiative and studio, as students from Detroit high schools are given the hands-on learning that will allow them to not only participate in, but lead the rebirth of this great American city, " said Schlissel.

While opportunity and exposure to architecture are essential components of Michigan Architecture Prep, the program plans to address other areas of concern in the profession.

Watch a video about Michigan Architecture Prep.

"Urban space and buildings are perceived by different people differently," says Milton S. F. Curry, Taubman College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives. “A new generation of diverse designers will help shape the built environment from the perspective of underrepresented minorities and others who have historically been absent from the conversations within academia and in our profession.”

Only 1.5 percent of American architects are African-American, even though African-Americans comprised 12 to 13 percent of the total U.S. population.

Over the coming years, the program plans to enroll as many as 50 students each semester while increasing participation from  DPS high schools. This effort will go a long way in exposing high school students to architecture as a career while adding to the diversity and creativity of architecture, and our cities, for years to come.

Taubman College is well-positioned to take on this initiative, due to generous alumni and community support, as well a commitment to design and education excellence. The college has the top-ranked master of architecture degree program at a public university.

ArcPrep is made possible with support from U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, U-M’s School of Education, DPS and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Program funding was made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Taubman College’s Michigan Research Studio is located at 3901 Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit, two blocks from U-M’s Detroit Center.

About U-M’s Taubman  College of Architecture and Urban Planning:

The Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan is a leader in interdisciplinary education and research with a focus on creating a more beautiful, inclusive and better built environment. The college and its alumni are committed to pushing the boundaries of architectural practice, advancing global engagement, and significantly enhancing diversity in the profession.

The college offers the following degrees in nationally ranked programs: Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Master of Architecture, Master of Science in Architecture, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Urban Design, and PhD programs.

The colleges more than 80 faculty members are on the cutting edge of research in areas ranging from urban design and redevelopment to conservation, digital technology, material systems, and design and health. With travel and academic programs in every continent and a mix of more than 600 students from all backgrounds, the college sustains an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect, while catalyzing rigorous intellectual debate.

Read more about the program.

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