In times such as ours, when the interests of students and teachers of architecture oscillate between focused but narrow expertise and free but often irrelevant experimentation, the existence and ambition of a School such as University College Dublin offers a welcome alternative, for a number of reasons. First, UCD’s dedication to both its home city, Dublin, and its surrounding countryside, situates its programmes at the intersection of themes that are essential in architecture today: culture and nature, modernity and tradition, the attractive promise of new technologies and the tested wisdom of craft methods. A second strength of UCD is its inclusive approach to architectural skills and their acquisition. No choice between digital and manual methods can be made today. UCD’s serious commitment to the full range of design techniques introduces students to their several strengths and their complementarities. Lastly, UCD offers students a combination of professors and professionals that binds together studies in the theoretical and practical aspects of architecture. No School’s graduates approximate the ideal of the “reflective practitioner” more closely than this one’s. That the teachers and students are not just serious about their work but wonderfully collegial makes the School even more special.
Professor of Architecture, Associate Dean, Chair Graduate Group in Architecture,
University of Pennsylvania
Looking back over the years it seems to me that the ethos of architectural culture in Dublin has always been based on cultivating a particular type of sensitivity towards the nature of the environmental grain, irrespective of whether the subject in question is an urban grain or the grain of a particular landscape, or a mixture of both. It is just this tactile quality that makes the teaching of architecture at University College Dublin into a unique experience, one which is not available today elsewhere. Understated, modest, and non-spectacular and yet, at the same time, always pertinent, UCD has something to offer that the big global schools cannot match, namely, a commitment to the craft of architecture that is as critical as it is pragmatic.
Ware Professor of Architecture,
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation,
We have reviewed the work of students at UCD over several years. It is exceptional work. The programme of study addresses architectural issues in ways that are both global and particularly Irish. There is a clear understanding of the issues and theory that inform and drive current pedagogy. Yet the work here is done with a grounded artfulness. The hand is considered a powerful tool. The heart has parity with the head.
TOD WILLIAMS & BILLIE TSIEN
Architects, Louis Kahn Chair, School of Architecture,
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Daniele de Marzo Gianipero, Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo, Brazil, Architecture and Urbanism, 2015/16
"The year 2015-2016 was a watershed in my life. When I applied for UCD I didn't know what to expect, I had never left my country before and the idea of living and studying across the ocean for a whole year was very scary. Luckily for me, I was accepted, so I had to take all the courage I had - which I found out to be a lot and flew to Dublin in July. I attended 5 weeks of English classes before the beginning of the academic year, which helped me a lot during my time here. The Fresher's Week was amazing; I got in touch with a whole new universe and discovered the UCD societies (and joined 12). I was able to make friends from all over the world and learn about their cultures, not to mention how impressed I was with the university's facilities, structure and staff. The teachers of the modules I took were all very helpful, open-minded, and knew the best way of delivering the information they had to. The laboratories were perfectly equipped, just as the class rooms and, of course, the legendary James Joyce Library. Despite being HUGE, the entire campus is harmonious, the contact of the buildings with nature (and the awesome lakes!) happens all the time though a unique landscaping (a delight for me as architect student). So wherever you are, however stressed you are, if you glance out the window you'll find an inspiring view - it's always clear that you're in Ireland. Basically, it's like living a fairy-tale, only you have exams by the end of the semesters. My entire experience would never fit in one testimonial, but I truly encourage everyone who has a chance to come and try doing the same. I saw things from out of my comfort zone, I lived and discovered things that are unusual for me in my home country, and this is what makes you grow as a person. You get to know the world from a brand new perspective and realize how big it really is. I learned a lot, and yet I know I still have a lot more to learn. I will miss UCD and Ireland a lot, the time I had here and the people I met will last in my memories forever. I feel I can now say that everything you read about studying and living abroad is true, and more than that, after this year I believe it should be a human right."
Marina Williams, Architecture Junior Year Student, University of San Francisco, Fall 2015
I have had unforgettable experiences here in Ireland and at UCD. The architecture program here is very different from the one I’m in back at home so it took a lot of hard work and getting used to, but I made it through and learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of in the process. You have to learn a whole new way of doing things when you go to school in a different country because the teaching style and class formatting is so different, but it’s a nice change from what you’re used to and challenges you to be more independent. Everyone at UCD is so friendly it makes it much easier to adapt. The advising staff is so helpful and responsive it makes the transition process so smooth, from getting things figured out before you come to UCD, to getting adjusted while you’re here. Choosing Ireland for study abroad was the best decision I could’ve made. It is an experience I will always cherish and carry with me throughout all the new experiences that are to come.
Tara Allentuck, Landscape Architecture Junior Year Student, Virginia Tech, Fall 2015.
After hearing from previous students at my school how amazing UCD was I did not believe it until I stepped off the plane in Dublin. Waiting for me was the best semester I have experienced so far in college. Everyone at UCD was friendly and willing to help the lost international student. My Landscape Architecture projects were challenging where I was able to grow as a young designer. The tutors were always eager to help me as I was trying to learn the metric system and aspects of the Irish landscapes. In my landscape modules I was mixed in with both the local students who accepted me into their group. One of my favourite experiences here was when some the landscape architecture tutors took the first years and international students on a trip to show different landscapes around Ireland. As sad as I am to see this semester come to an end, I am glad for all the opportunities UCD gave me and would not change a thing about my experience.
Christopher Rucinski, Landscape Architecture Junior Year Student, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, spring 2015.
Studying abroad at UCD was an experience that opened my eyes to the wonders of travel. As a student of landscape architecture, my adventures had been focused on visiting Europe's most stunning landscapes. Whether it were the breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, the stunning Cliffs of Moher, or the genius gardens at Powerscourt, there is something to be learned from every outdoor environment. My time at UCD changed the way I think about education, cultural differences, and my own perspective of life. I will forever remember the opportunity that UCD provided for me and so many other international students.
Richard Waldron, PhD student, UIC Exchange (Chicago, USA) 2009
In my second year of the MRUP, the School organised a student exchange with the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This opportunity enabled me to study at one of the most highly regarded planning schools in the United States for a semester in 2009. I gained so much from the exchange and my time at CUPPA, not only in terms of travel and making new friends, but also in terms of professional development. My communicative and analytic skills were enhanced by the emphasis on presenting work to peers on a regular basis. My knowledge of the planning and development process has also been improved by studying the discipline in an unfamiliar city. For example, I am much more aware of the constraints and challenges faced by developers in the development process, particularly in terms of financing. In one assignment, we had to provide financing options, using a blend of private and public sources, for a not-for-profit housing developer in one of Chicago’s most disadvantaged areas. Much like in PEP, the emphasis in CUPPA is on practical, real world learning....I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work at two high quality research centres. I have developed lifelong friendships in both, as well as the expertise and skills to enhance my professional career.
Brenden Paradies, Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Graduate Student, Studied at University College Dublin in Dublin Ireland (Fall 2015)
Having the opportunity to study abroad at the University College Dublin, via the University of Illinois-Chicago Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Exchange Program, was by far the highlight of my time as a graduate student. Dublin, Ireland is a country with beautiful outdoor landscapes, numerous walking nature trails, and the friendliest people you will ever interact with. Dublin is a great city for students to complete a study abroad program as there are no significant language barriers, plenty of public transportation to get you anywhere in the country, the cost of living is not outrageous, and everyone is very helpful and friendly. University College Dublin, where I completed my courses while abroad, has very helpful administration and faculty to help with any concerns you may have. More specifically, the Urban Planning graduate program I participated had extremely dedicated professors very knowledgeable about the content they teach and were always willing to provide additional help to a student if needed. This college also has a beautiful campus hosting many student amenities as well as a large number of international students allowing you to connect with students from all over the world. While in Dublin, I took the opportunity to travel to many more international cities too at a really low cost which was probably the biggest highlight of my time abroad. Overall, this study abroad experience was the best decision I made as a young adult to expand my learning, professional development, and travel to places I’ve always dreamed of!