Since its founding in 2010, DoArch has developed into a small architecture program within a culture of small practice that requires a generalist’s knowledge of building. We are a small program training young architects for professional practice in small firms in small places.
DoArch is currently immersed in three focused areas of scholarship that reflect our mission: Building Arts, Public Works and Media Practices. Ultimately, our vision as a Department is to maintain a professionally accredited, nationally recognized program. These three areas of focus underscore our strengths and a path forward in meeting these goals.
DoArch is a catalytic and energetic presence in the campus community. We are charged to meet academic standards, reach out to surrounding communities providing service and advocacy, and teach to the highest standard and the betterment of our students.
The department has benefited SDSU through our annual lecture series, public exhibitions and symposiums, and departmental publications. We invite lecturers and guest reviewers to speak at the AIA SD Convention and at our own final reviews. Faculty research and grant funding has led to award winning community work, including Wrigley Square in Mobridge, SD, and the construction of a certified Passive House in Brookings.
The Department of Architecture (DoArch) at SDSU started in 2009, however, interest in starting an architecture program began in 2007 when then University President David Chicoine came to SDSU from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Chicoine was a senior University administrator and recognized the value of a strong architecture program in the academy. Mr. Jerome J. “Jerry” Lohr, a philanthropic engineering alumnus of SDSU, equally matched this interest. Lohr has had a long and successful career in engineering, education, construction and real estate development.
In May 2009, through the coordination of Mr. Steve Erpenbach, current president and CEO of the SDSU Foundation, an Architecture Founders Group came together with Lohr and four professional South Dakota firms: Architecture Incorporated, Koch Hazard Architects, Perspective and TSP, Inc. This Founder’s Group provided an unprecedented financial surety to see that the program got off the ground and up to full speed with very generous gifts that amounted to a primary start-up fund.
The administration of the College of Arts and Sciences (now the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences), under the leadership of then Dean Jerry Jorgensen, bore the load of working with initial program consultants, pushing a proposal through the state Board of Regents, finding the first faculty member, recruiting and advising the first crop of architecture students, and supporting the program in its first year. In 2009, Dean Jorgensen and the college administration commissioned Professor Sharon Matthews, a former NAAB Executive Director, for consultation and an initial projection of whether and how a program at SDSU could achieve accreditation. Dean Jorgenson asked Dean Roger Schluntz of the University of New Mexico to review and comment on Professor Matthews’ proposals and began aggressively consulting with the Founder’s Group about the future of the program. A pro forma was written and a committee formed from both the SDSU academic community and the SD professional community to hire the department’s first professor and Department Head, Brian Rex.
The first courses in the newly established department were offered in the fall semester 2010. Since that time, the faculty has grown to seven full time members, with students enrolled across all six years of the program. The department has become one of the most active research and community focused on campus, anchoring the new School of Design, and graduating young professionals into an underserved region. In August 2015, DoArch relocated into its new facility, the Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Building, further solidifying the mutual commitment between the department and the university. In February 2017, the professional Master of Architecture degree was formally granted a three-year term of initial accreditation by NAAB.