Mission - Architecture Program

“Speak to the Past and It Shall Teach Thee”
—stone inscription on the John Carter Brown Library

Our program's Mission is…

  1. To be a distinctive Catholic architecture program that is rooted in Christian Tradition and thus treats millennia-old principles in art and architecture as timeless, living traditions entities that are worthy of safeguarding and cherishing as much now as they ever were when transmitted through our ancestors since the time of the ancients, to whom God first revealed his Truth, Beauty, and Goodness
  2. To prepare wonder-filled, life-long students of the art of building in the twenty-first century—students who carry the torch to “make all things new” (Rev. 21.5) by freely and creatively turning to the wellsprings of Tradition for new insights and inspiration
  3. To re-establish a shared culture of design and craftsmanship in the art of building, as historically fostered in the cultural heritage of the universal Church and oriented to classical canons of design such as Decorum, Propriety, and Beauty

At Benedictine College architecture students progress boldly toward a future abundantly filled with hope for a built environment that celebrates the human and the humane; an environment that is as functional and well-constructed as it is meaning-filled and beautiful. It is said that ignorance of the past condemns one to repeat mistakes. With much modern architecture bereft of beauty and meaning, our students turn to the past to find out how current building trends came to be and how they can be improved this trajectory might be corrected by designing places that are sustainable because they are appreciated and loved. It is key here that students learn that in this process the past is not merely “spoken about” or “listened to,” but visited in the flesh and “spoken to.” History’s abundant lessons are revealed to the student only when actively engaged. The many courses in art and architectural history teach students that the great works of the past only may beget greater work but only through intense study. A better ‘wheel’ may be invented only after recovering and analyzing the best of the prototypes.

Student projects in the foundational architectural design studios rely on the reintegration of traditional studio methods—drawing, painting, modeling, etc—these are the age-old crafts of the architect. Benedictine College’s liberal arts education fosters the reasoning and scholarship that fortifies the craft. The Roman architect Vitruvius wrote: “The architect should be equipped with knowledge of many branches of study and varied kinds of learning for it is by his judgment that all work done by the other arts is put to test” (I.1). With eyes and minds thus trained to catch recognize glimpses of the “whole,” the students may come to discern the qualities of individual parts that, depending on the integrity of the assembly, make one architectural scheme more successful than another. Teaching students how to develop their designs on a foundation of specific, pre-existing architectural parts via a coherent process—that is, with a beginning, a middle, and an end—is the key that best positions them to create new “wholes.” Here we design via concrete instances—not abstractions—in the context of beautiful story-telling for specific locations.