Montana State University Wins $25,000 Grand Prize

11 April 2006 

Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Prize jury has selected Montana State University as the grand prize winner of the 2006 NCARB Prize. With this honor, Montana State University’s School of Architecture will receive $25,000. Former NCARB president Robert A. Boynton, FAIA, and jury chair Barbara Sestak, AIA, announced this year’s Prize winners at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, late last week.

In the Montana State entry, “Engaging the Advancing Edge of the Architectural Profession,” students who are enrolled in a professional practice class investigate trends and focus on business research and strategy in architectural practice by working with firms and other entities such as MSU’s School of Business. Coursework is iterative as student investigations flow from one semester to the next—that is, a topic explored during the fall semester will be revisited during the spring semester with another group of firms as its focus. Because practitioners often are the object of such investigations, students are constantly working with primary sources.

The 2006 NCARB Prize jury noted that the MSU submission “was innovative in looking at how a practice evolves in relationship to trends and a firm’s response to them.” The jury also recognized that “students are developing theory” by way of their participation in this course. Jurors explained, “Students are on the cutting edge of how practice is changing.”

The 2006 NCARB Prize jury also honored five additional programs, each of whom will receive a $7,500 monetary award.

California College of the Arts—“Studio/Practice Program: Comprehensive Building Design”
Through the Studio/Practice Program, staff members from three firms take part in a campus-based studio where students reapproach and rethink an actual project from each firm. Not only do students conduct detailed studies of drawings and visit job sites, they also provide another design solution with guidance from faculty and firm staff members. As an additional facet to the studio, each firm also receives a stipend. The firms have financed a publication related to the studio’s work. According to the Prize jury, “Strengths of the program are the dialogue with the firms and the publications that can share the experiences with a broader community and through time.”

California College of the Arts received the NCARB Prize in 2004 for its entry, “Collaborative Teaching With Professional Mentorship.”

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—“Bedford Studio Initiative”
The Bedford Studio Initiative intricately links a professional practice course with a studio. Through the studio, students concentrate on the design development of a project they previously created or of an unbuilt, published project. Students also visit construction sites and professional offices to discuss practice issues related to their work. Through this initiative, six architecture students and six engineering students participate in a traveling workshop that focuses on firms in the United Kingdom and in Germany. Workshop participants are tasked with developing an integrated design proposal for part of a structure or building. By traveling abroad, students can observe how practice differs in other countries. According to the Prize jury, “One of the strengths of this program is that the studio engages fourth-year engineering and senior architecture students in a setting where they jointly work on design development.”

Texas Tech University—“Practicum + Studio
Since 2001, students from the rural Texas Tech campus have enjoyed opportunities to work on large, complex building types in a metropolitan setting. This ongoing effort—17 studios completed over the past five years—has successfully introduced students to urban design issues. Those taking part in the studio work 35 hours per week in a firm-setting and then meet at a host firm for a weekly studio. Prize jurors were pleased to recognize the long-term, successful way in which the university developed and sustained a program of integrating practice and education in response to their context.

The University of Arkansas—“Thickening Professional Knowledge Base: Developing Planning Models and Solutions for Our State”
For more than 10 years, UA’s Community Design Center (UACDC) has tackled a variety of projects, notably beginning with a focus on historic preservation. Since 2002, UACDC has broadened its scope to include multi-disciplinary issues such as a watershed urbanism project that has drawn the involvement of several organizations. The UACDC studio is renowned for its work on such initiatives, which is captured in a publication upon the completion of each project. Emphasizing proactive responses, the UACDC has become a regional planning activist and leader of environmental issues for the surrounding area.

The University of Arkansas received the NCARB Prize in 2005 for its entry, “The Big Box Studio in the Community Design Center.”

The University of New Mexico—“Small Town Urbanism: The Main Street Studios”
At their essence, the Main Street Studios demonstrate the effective role that a university can play in improving small town design. Practitioners from 15 firms and UNM students develop and lead a series of community design charrettes and workshops, with a focus on nurturing small town urbanism. The Main Street Program is the primary funding source for these studios, allowing for a series of projects based on community strategy—as opposed to the development of several different and unrelated projects. Prize jurors described the projects as “well done and thoughtful” and noted that “they assess themselves and they have a sense of where they are.”

Entries from the University of Texas at Austin (“Engage, Design, Build, Reflect”) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (“No Compromise: The Integration of the Technical and the Aesthetic”) received honorable mentions. Two previous entries from Virginia Tech were named NCARB Prize winners in 2003 (“The Art of Integration/The Science of Building”) and in 2005 (“Chicago Studio”).

As envisioned by Peter Steffian, FAIA, who served as Council president in 2001, the NCARB Prize recognizes excellence and innovation when bringing together architectural education and practice. Architecture schools with NAAB-accredited degree programs were invited to submit established projects, completed or in progress by the end of the fall 2005 semester, that demonstrated creative initiatives that integrate the academy and the profession within a studio curriculum.

Thirty-three entries, representing 29 different colleges and universities, were juried for the 2006 NCARB Prize competition. Speaking on behalf of the NCARB Prize jury, Boynton said, “We are so pleased to celebrate the five-year milestone for the NCARB Prize. The program continues to highlight the most innovative faculty efforts to link practice and education in a studio setting. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the 2006 Prize winners. Montana State University proudly maintains the high standards established by our previous grand prize winners—the University at Buffalo/SUNY, Oklahoma State University, the University of Kansas, and the University of Detroit Mercy.”

The 2006 NCARB Prize jury comprises the members of the Council’s Practice Education Committee and six deans (or department heads or chairs) of NAAB-accredited architectural programs chosen by NCARB’s regional leadership. Committee members are:

  • Robert A. Boynton, FAIA, Committee Chair (Virginia) NCARB President, 2004
  • Arnold J. Aho, AIA (Vermont)
  • Joseph L. Bynum, AIA (Alabama)
  • T. Rexford Cecil, AIA (Kentucky)
  • Frank M. Guillot, FAIA (Vermont) NCARB President, 2005
  • Stephen Parker, AIA, LEED (Maryland)
  • Barbara A. Sestak, AIA, Jury Chair (Oregon)
  • Michiel M. Bourdrez, AIA, staff liaison
  • Demetrius Norman, staff support

The academy is represented by six deans/directors/chairs, each of whom is based in an NCARB region. They are:

  • Stephen White, AIA, Dean, School of Architecture, Art, and Historic Preservation,
    Roger Williams University
  • Alan Balfour, Dean, School of Architecture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Ken Lambla, AIA, Dean, College of Architecture, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Michaele Pride-Wells, AIA, Director, School of Architecture and Interior Design,
    The University of Cincinnati
  • Robert G. Fillpot, FAIA, Dean, College of Architecture, The University of Oklahoma
  • Brenda Case Scheer, AIA, Dean, College of Architecture & Planning, The University of Utah

The NCARB Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy was first initiated in the fall 2001 semester. The Prize is inspired by the 1996 Carnegie Foundation report, Building Community: A New Future for Architectural Education and Practice, written by Lee D. Mitgang and the late Ernest L. Boyer.

Listing of Entries for the 2006 NCARB Prize
for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy

Boston Architectural Center—“Intellectual and Experiential Learning”
California College of the Arts—“Studio/Practice Program: Comprehensive Building Design”
California Polytechnic State University—“Singing River Island, The Vision: Five Proposals for the Pascagoula Naval Station, Pascagoula, Mississippi, Post-Katrina”
Carnegie Mellon University—“The Urban Laboratory”
Iowa State University—“RE-thinking the Curriculum: A new graduate program focused on integration”
Kansas State University—“Annual Design Forum - Real Name - ‘Bowman Forum’”
Kansas State University—“Seaton Hall Lower Level Design/Build Renovation”
Louisiana State University—“Integrated Learning Communities”
Louisiana Tech University—“What We Can Do: Three Sessions (and Five Years) Exploring Student-centered Community Service”
Mississippi State University—“Create Common Ground: Byhalia”
Mississippi State University—“Design Charrette & Design/Build of an Elementary School Playground”
Montana State University—“Engaging the Advancing Edge of the Architectural Profession”
NewSchool of Architecture & Design—“Neuroscience and Architecture”
Oklahoma State University—“The Architecture Freshman and the Profession: A Unique Case Study Approach to Inform and Inspire”
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—“Bedford Studio Initiative”
Roger Williams University—“Designing Studio Culture”
Texas A&M University—“Distinguished Firm Course & Distinguished Firm Lecture Series”
Texas Tech University —“Practicum + Studio”
The University at Buffalo/State University of New York—“Building an Education”
The University of Arkansas—“Habitat Trails: Habitat for Humanity; From Infill House to Neighborhood Design”
The University of Arkansas—“Thickening the Professional Knowledge Base: Developing Planning Models and Solutions for Our State”
The University of California, Berkeley—“AsBuilt: Theory of Practice”
The University of Detroit Mercy—“Mandatory Cooperative Education Program: Engaging the Community of Practice”
The University of Florida—“Prelude to the Pedium: Alternative Approach to the High-rise Housing Pedestal”
The University of Kentucky—“Studio as Atelier: College Campus in Japan”
The University of Miami—“Community Building: Fostering University Professional Collaboration”
The University of New Mexico—“Small Town Urbanism: The Main Street Studios”
The University of Oklahoma— “Tracy Park + Gunboat Park (Pearl Park + Elm Park) Neighborhood Plan”
The University of Texas at Austin—“Engage, Design, Build, Reflect”
The University of Texas at San Antonio—“utensails: the poetics and pragmatics of tensile membrane architecture”
The University of Washington—“Cultivating Community: Planting Seeds for Lifetime Partnerships”
The University of Washington—“Noji Commons Project: Design/Build Studio”
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University—“No Compromise: The Integration of the Technical and the Aesthetic”


The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


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