Our Story

From its first class of just 21 students, AAP has grown to become an internationally recognized leader in supporting talented architects, artists, planners, urbanists, and scholars in their pursuit of knowledge.

The Early Years


Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, exhorted the Board of Trustees to establish a new architecture program. White had a fascination with the discipline, combined with a sense of its importance to cultural history. From a young age, he began collecting architectural books and journals. He offered his collection — his "pet extravagance," and possibly the best collection in the United States at the time — to Cornell. In return, the trustees agreed to found the school of architecture and appointed Charles Babcock as the first professor of architecture in the United States.


Providing the first four-year course in architecture in an American university, the college presented an alternative to apprenticeship programs or to study in Europe. The new architecture program was immediately popular, registering 32 students by 1876.

Historic Firsts


The College of Architecture enrolls its first international student.


Margaret Hicks (A.B. 1878, B.Arch. 1880) became the first woman to graduate from an architecture course at an American university.

Major Growth


The College of Architecture offers classes in drawing, painting, and sculpture.


Cornell becomes the first architecture school to extend its curriculum to five years.


The Department of Art is formally added.



The City and Regional Planning (CRP) program begins, becoming a separate department in 1952.


The Master of Fine Arts program begins.


The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) officially acquires its current name.

Cornell in Rome


The college launches Cornell in Rome, a program that has become a vital component of many AAP students' education.



AAP NYC is established, bringing students closer to professional disciplines in practice.


A $10M gift from M. Arthur Gensler, B.Arch. '58 and his family endows and names the Gensler Family AAP NYC Center.



The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning marked the Department of Architecture's 150th academic year and a century of art education with a broad slate of college-wide events from exhibitions and artist talks, to symposia, public lectures, and special community gatherings.

Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities


A $25M gift from Mui Ho '62 (B.Arch. '66) endows and names the Mui Ho Center for Cities advancing research, teaching, and partnerships dedicated to fostering more sustainable and just cities.

Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate


A $30 million gift from Paul Rubacha '72, MBA '73, creates an innovative multicollege department of real estate jointly led by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the SC Johnson College of Business.

Department of Design Tech


Bridging fields and faculty, AAP establishes the multicollege Department of Design Tech in partnership with the College of Human Ecology, the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, Cornell Engineering, and Cornell Tech in New York City.

AAP Deans

  • 1871–96: Charles Babcock
  • 1896–1901: Alexander Trowbridge
  • 1902–03: John V. Van Pelt
  • 1904–18: Clarence Martin
  • 1919–26: Francke Huntington Bosworth
  • 1927–38: George Young, Jr.
  • 1939–50: Gilmore Clarke '13
  • 1951–59: Thomas W. Mackesey
  • 1960–70: Burnham Kelly
  • 1971–79: Kermit C. Parsons (M.R.P. '53)
  • 1980–83: Jason Seley (B.F.A. '40)
  • 1983–84: Ian Stewart (M.R.P. '68, Ph.D. CRP '73) (interim dean)
  • 1984–96: William McMinn
  • 1996: Stanley Bowman (interim dean, July–December)
  • 1997–98: Anthony Vidler
  • 1999–2004: Porus Olpadwala 1973 (M.R.P. '76, Ph.D. CRP '79)
  • 2004–07: Mohsen Mostafavi
  • 2008: W. Stanley Taft (interim dean, January–August)
  • 2008–18: Kent Kleinman
  • 2018: Kieran Donaghy (M.S. RS '84, Ph.D. RS '87) (interim dean, July–December)
  • 2019–: J. Meejin Yoon (B.Arch. '95)
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