RIT began its graduate Architecture program in 2011 with the opening of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, hoping to push RIT and the greater Rochester area into the forefront of modern design and innovation. They are steadily bringing in valuable students with many different backgrounds and creative views to support the melting pot of ideas in sustainable, cutting edge, architecture. The program is very collaborative, often working with the Golisano Institute for Sustainability as well as the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences to bring together the best in design, art, sustainability, and environmental science to produce buildings and structures as unique as they are efficient. The program is fairly new to RIT, however, after some digging in the RIT Archives, we have found that the School of Applied Art within the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RIT’s original name) offered classes in architectural drawing as well as architectural drafting back in 1886, when tuition was $5 to $12 per term.
It took about three years of training until students could become architectural draftsmen to emphasize “the artistic side of the planning of structures” (excerpt from a brochure of the program’s overview, 1890-1920). The courses offered focused on an artistic approach of architecture; courses in design as well as Blueprint Reading, Architectural Drawing and Building Estimating were all requisite classes to obtain a diploma in this field. In 1928 the program moved to the School of Industrial Art. It was abandoned after The New York state architectural requirements change and affected many student’s progress within the program. In 1933, many students opted to transfer their credits to nearby schools to finish obtaining their degrees.
The Rochester Athenaeum then focused much of their energy in developing their engineering, science and art departments, citing that the absence of an architecture program could be addressed once there was enough demand for it (which is what happened in 2011). We currently offer a Masters in Architecture that features curriculum that “has been shaped by the global emphasis of sustainability, factors that impact urbanism, and the hands-on application of the principles of design and technology on materials and construction.” RIT has evolved into one of the top design and engineering schools in the nation, and is now on track to house a top architecture school, one that competes with other world-class programs such as those offered in Harvard and Yale universities.