Friday, January 18, 2013

January 17, 2013

Dear Faculty, Students, Staff and Alumni,

The School of Architecture is embarking on an exciting new chapter in its year-long Study Abroad Program. For 43 years the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has been the oldest uninterrupted year-long architecture Study Abroad Program with its own faculty. Indeed the year-long Versailles Program has defined the academic standards by which all other U.S. architecture study abroad programs are measured.

However, the School of Architecture believes it is time to inaugurate a new direction in our Study Abroad Program. Given our inability to develop a joint pedagogical, integrative academic structure with Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles (ENSAV) (due to 7 week calendar offset and language issues) and lack of facility space for design studios and classrooms, along with increasing program costs/and living expenses in Versailles we have decided to end our relationship with ENSAV. It was a difficult, yet appropriate decision for the development of a much stronger integrative academic structure, which we will launch by moving the program to Barcelona, Spain (considered to be Europe’s current design and cultural capital) beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.

On behalf of the School, I would like to thank our many colleagues at ENSAV for their friendship, professional courtesy and collegiality over the many decades. In recent years the efforts of individuals such as former President of the Conseil d’Administration Professor Jean Castex, former Director Nicholas Michelin, Professor David Leclerc, and Mme Dominique Audouin formerly responsible of the ENSAV’s international programs office, defined the collaborative nature of our joint success. I am thankful to Michel Seban and Pascal Harmon for their willingness to work with us to meet the needs of our UIUC students in Versailles. I also offer my appreciation to Director Vincent Michel for willingly extending our agreement for three years as we re-evaluated our Study Abroad program.

The School of Architecture at the University of Illinois feels most fortunate to have developed a new partnership with the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès (ETSAV) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Barcelona. One of Spain’s premier architectural programs with over 1,000 (20% from all over the world) students and 100 faculty members, ETSAV shares similarities in design pedagogy, academic structure, and academic calendar with our own program. As a result, our students will have opportunities to fully integrate into the academic structure of ETSAV, share studio space, have full use of the library, dining, woodshops/model shops/labs, lecture rooms, etc., that will allow UIUC’s students to learn and collaborate side by side with ETSAV students. With a faculty of 100, our students will have greater exposure to the professional architecture activity of Barcelona and European region. ETSAV’s Director Víctor Seguí has also led the successful integration of ETSAV into the international architecture academy through study abroad relationships and workshops with the top architectural programs in Europe, China/Southeast Asia and South America. The Illinois School of Architecture will be a willing participant in this international knowledge community. I would like to thank Director Víctor Seguí and his colleagues for their fine efforts in developing our new joint Study Abroad Program. I would also like to extend a special thanks to Professors Botond Bognar, Alejandro Lapunzina, Lynne Dearborn and members of the Schools International Study Abroad Program for their fine efforts in developing the next chapter of Illinois’ Architecture Study Abroad Program.

The new program will commence with seniors in the fall 2014 as part of the yearlong 2014-15 academic year. Seniors, rather than juniors will better integrate into Europe’s new architectural 3+2 educational model. The Barcelona program will closely model the current Versailles program in that it will be a full year academic program, covering the same coursework as the Urbana-Champaign campus and will continue to be led by Professor Alejandro Lapunzina and faculty hired by the School of Architecture to teach design studios, structures, history and electives.

Our agreement with ETSAV will allow us the possibility to develop a summer and semester study abroad component for the graduate program. This has been a long cherished goal of the school that will further augment opportunities provided to graduate students in Munich at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Tongji University. In addition, the University of Barcelona is already a partner of the University of Illinois in the field of Humanities. Thus, many exciting academic joint developments with two universities will now be possible.

Attached is a joint press release by both the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois and the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès (ETSAV) regarding the exchange. (Click here for a link to the Press Release)

We are quite excited about the Study Abroad opportunity with ETSAV for our students. We know our colleagues at ETSAV are equally excited for this program and their students.

I do invite all our students, alumni and friends to join us in making this new Study Abroad collaboration a successful one for the next 40 years.

David M. Chasco, AIA
Professor and Director
Plym Travelling Fellow
Chancellor’s Advisor for Architecture and Master Planning