Kent State University: Graduate Programs That Shape Tomorrow’s Environmental Design Leaders

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Growing up in Slovakia – a country with many picturesque castles – Zuzana Kubisova has always been intrigued by architecture. Living spaces were something she valued and sought to understand. She spent her free time imagining, designing and building tiny structures with everything she could get her hands on from a young age.

“I built places with paper, Lego, cardboard and blankets,” she says. “I really imagined what it was like to live in all these places. In my five inch Lego houses, I selected the colors for the walls, cabinets and wondered how my windows would light up. I even imagined what I would see through those windows.

When it came time to go to university, she discovered that in Slovakia it was rare to study architecture without an engineering education. Discouraged, she chose to pursue her undergraduate studies in product design before heading to the United States to study Visual Communication Design at Kent State University.

The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) Master of Architecture The program (M.Arch) welcomes students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds. It was designed to nurture progressive architectural leaders by helping them develop technical skills, professional knowledge and design creativity through project-based learning. Kubisova knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

It is true that CAED gave him an unprecedented learning experience. This exposed her to rigorous classes, out-of-state site visits, and a series of after-school lectures, exhibits, seminars and workshops. And the icing on the cake? Obtain personalized advice from a distinguished faculty.

“All of my studio teachers have been precious to me,” she says. “Catherine strand encouraged my creative instinct; Gregory Stroh pushed me to pursue my design ideas while setting discipline boundaries; and Steven Rugaré makes architectural history lessons a living experience.

Kubisova commends her professors for helping her ‘find her sense of belonging’ while supporting her holistic passions for urban phenomenology, design for climate change, and using a human-centered approach for a integrated sustainable development. Armed with this knowledge, Kubisova plans to design affordable and uplifting spaces as a qualified architect. “I’m sure this program gives me the tools to do it,” she says.

It is the confidence that a CAED education aims to instill in its students through its offerings. The college was developed to produce a new generation of responsible professionals committed to improving the quality of life, improving the physical environment, and protecting public welfare through the design of the built environment.

The M.Arch program is not the only graduate pathway to these rewarding careers. Students who wish to merge their love of business and architecture may choose to pursue the Double degree M.Arch and Master of Business Administration (MBA). This NAAB and AACSB accredited degree is offered jointly by CAED and the Graduate School of Management to fill leadership positions in architectural firms. It is also an ideal choice for graduates wishing to start their own business.

CAED also offers a Master in Urban Design program, which aims to produce knowledgeable and industry-ready specialists who tackle the complex challenges of demographic change, sustainability and equity in city development.

Source: Kent State University

It presents projects ranging from urban spaces to large-scale infrastructural and regional initiatives. The exhibition teaches students to design urban forms while addressing cultural and environmental concerns in an innovative way. The courses in real estate and community development provide students with a practical foundation in the economic and social realities of the production of urban space.

At the end of the day, graduates are well equipped to spend their days solving the complex challenges of demographic change, sustainability and equity in the development of cities and spaces.

Just ask CAED alumni Alan O’Connell. Today, the full-time town planner and planner of the Schreifer Group works on area development plans for US military bases around the world. “Working for a small business offers the opportunity to do things I couldn’t have done elsewhere – including a lot of urban design work,” he says.

O’Connell’s passion for urban design developed at the age of eight when he started playing SimCity, a city-building video game. Combined with his love of drawing and an obsession with maps, it could easily be said that O’Connell was destined to be an urban designer.

Despite a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Regional Planning, O’Connell knew that an additional qualification would serve as a stepping stone to help him achieve his dream of becoming the Director of Planning in Cleveland, Ohio.

With the technical skills he acquired during his time at CAED, nothing stops him. Asked about the three most valuable skills learned during the master’s program in Urban Design, he proudly lists: “Adobe Creative Suite, 3D Modeling / Rendering and GIS”.

“These three skills – along with my background in facilitating community orientation and designing carts as president of downtown Cleveland residents – are the ones I use every day. I wouldn’t have got the job I have today without them.

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