An introduction to the UW School of Architecture

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UW’s School of Architecture is located in Cambridge’s beautiful old Galt neighbourhood, and accommodates about 400 students and staff every year. The school admits far fewer students than the main campus, with only about 80 students accepted every year. Still, don’t make the mistake of thinking that smaller means boring — there’s plenty going down in Cambridge, especially on campus.

While the School of Architecture was originally short on space, in 2004 the school converted the historic Riverside Silk Mill into the satellite campus it is today, providing students with not only a larger work space but also a unique building. The school is also the only Canadian architectural school with a permanent international facility (more on that later), making its gradual growth pretty impressive.

The School of Architecture offers undergraduate students four-year bachelor degrees in architectural studies for design, visual and digital media, cultural history and theory, technology and environment, and urbanism and landscape. It also offers a master’s degree in architecture to graduate students.

As one might expect from the University of Waterloo, the School of Architecture also has an excellent co-op program. Students get up to two years of paid, practical experience in the architectural workforce. The program gives students hands-on experience and new perspectives in the field that interests them, and perhaps just new perspectives in general, with co-op employers in Vancouver, New York, Miami, Spain, Japan, and Germany, among other places.

Speaking of worldly travels, you can expect the architectural program to take you all over. The field trips held each year take students to New York City, Montreal, New England, Turkey, Greenland, and more, allowing them to study design globally. As if that (and wherever else your co-op opportunities take you) weren’t enough, there’s also the entire term that fourth-year architecture students spend in Rome.

The University of Waterloo’s Rome studio hosts architecture students during their 4A term. Located in Trastevere, one of Rome’s oldest neighbourhoods, students get an excellent opportunity to take in beautiful Roman architecture while also being instructed by Italian professors and critics in an effort to broaden perspectives on design. When students return to Canada, there is even an exhibition showcasing the work they created in Rome, bringing a taste of Italy back to their peers and friends in Cambridge.

The School of Architecture offers a university experience unique even among the UW community. If you’re enrolled there, you can expect a lot of incredible opportunities over the next four years — be sure to make the most of them. 

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