Mission of the Department of Architecture

Architecture at Cornell's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) is about creative and critical design practices that make lasting impact — balancing rigorous research and scholarship, responsibility for our natural and built environments, and reimagining the world at every scale to build a just and sustainable future for all.

At Cornell Architecture we see design as a process of creative experimentation and iterative analysis, ensuring non-judgmental, holistic, and open-ended inquiry enabled by independent, critical thinking and bold thought leadership. Our undergraduate and graduate programs are designed to support interdisciplinary collaboration and provide an integrated foundation in global history, theory, structures, environmental systems, building technologies, visual representation, ensuring that our students are equipped with actionable knowledge and the agency to enact change.

Sited in the dramatic glacial gorges of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York and centered in Ithaca — the first U.S. city to begin decarbonization — Cornell Architecture students work in the dynamic OMA-designed Milstein Hall that cantilevers over University Avenue and connects to the adjacent state-of-the-art fabrication shop and Mui Ho Fine Arts library. Here, design practice is situated between the introspective and scholarly and the interactive and technological, reflecting our longstanding design philosophy that as architects and designers, we reflect upon and build within multiple, interrelated worlds.

As part of a renowned campus and R1 University, students have access to more than 4000 course offerings across over 100 academic departments alongside a vast library collection. Cross-disciplinary research labs and centers that offer grant and fellowship opportunities and platforms to support student and faculty research. This exceptional setting offers the possibility for myriad collaborations across campus and the architecture, art, and planning disciplines. In addition, students and faculty can study and work in our 17th century palazzo in Rome, Italy as well as in our New York City space in Lower Manhattan, which continues to forge innovative and pathbreaking collaborations with Cornell Tech on nearby Roosevelt Island.

The Department of Architecture contributes to the mission of the college, advancing…

Social Equity + Engagement Our international faculty and visiting design critics have a broad range of expertise and research practices in community engagement, social justice, globalized architecture, anti-racism, migration, (post)colonialism, and spatial violence. When coupled with a range of core and elective courses as well as design studios and research assistantships, our students work together, often with community partnerships, toward making substantive change in the world centered on equity, accessibility, and diversity.

Environment + Sustainability We all share one planet. Our role in building and construction integrates material circularity, life cycle assessment, building energy simulation, daylight and thermal comfort modeling, and ecological theory. As researchers, scholars, and designers, we share an interest with our adjacent disciplines in responding to global climate change and propose new ways of thinking about natural and built environments. Our many core and elective courses and studios, encourage students to consider and rethink innovative approaches to the role of ecologies in architecture and urbanism. Cornell architecture labs such as the Circular Construction Lab, the Ecological Action Lab, and the Environmental Systems Lab are only some of the active research entities that engage in real-time climate issues regionally and globally.

Design + Emerging Technologies Alongside teaching digital skills and computational design thinking as fundamental, we support students in the deployment of new technologies, including the use of big data and robotic fabrication, as a means for not only changing the future of construction, but the daily practices around which we imagine design possibilities. Our faculty have expertise and rich research practices in computational design, robotic fabrication, augmented and virtual reality, and the application of real-time data within cities and buildings. Cornell Architecture is home to the Robotic Construction Lab, the RUBI Lab, and the award-winning Sabin Lab — all of which imagine the possibilities for today that look toward the future of design.

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