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About Architecture Program

About Architecture

Founded as a department in 2010, architecture has developed into a small 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.  

Architecture is currently immersed in three focused areas of scholarship that reflect our mission:

  • Building arts
  • Public works
  • Media practices

Ultimately, our vision 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.

The program 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 South Dakota Convention and at our own final reviews. Faculty research and grant funding has led to award-winning community work, including Wrigley Square in Mobridge and the construction of a certified Passive House in Brookings.


Interest in starting an SDSU's architecture program began in 2007 when then-president David Chicoine came to SDSU from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Chicoine recognized the value of a strong architecture program in the academy. Jerome J. Lohr, an engineering alumnus, 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 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 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 startup fund.
  • The administration of the College of Arts and Sciences (now the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), under the leadership of then-dean Jerry Jorgensen, bore the load of working with initial program consultants, pushing a proposal through the South Dakota 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, 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. Jorgenson asked Roger Schluntz, dean at the University of New Mexico, to review and comment on 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 South Dakota professional community to hire Brian Rex as the department’s first professor and department head.
  • The first courses were offered in the fall semester 2010. The faculty has grown to seven full-time members, with students enrolled across all six years of the program.
  • The program has become one of the most active research ones on campus and is community focused. It graduates young professionals into an underserved region.
  • In August 2015, the Architecture program relocated into the Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall, further solidifying the mutual commitment between the program and the university.
  • In February 2017, the professional Master of Architecture degree was formally granted a three-year term of initial accreditation by NAAB.
  • In January 2019, the Master of Architecture degree received a full, eight-year accreditation term by NAAB, becoming the first professionally accredited architecture degree in the history of South Dakota. The next accreditation visit is in spring 2028.