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

1871

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.

1876

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

1877

The College of Architecture enrolls its first international student.

1878

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

Major Growth

1896

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

1920

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

1921

The Department of Art is formally added.

Expansion

1935

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

1940

The Master of Fine Arts program begins.

1967

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

Cornell in Rome

1986

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

AAP NYC

2006

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

2020

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

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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