The architecture program has been a long-standing component of the arts curriculum at Deerfield Academy and introduces students to drawing, design, and model-building techniques, architectural vocabulary, and the role and responsibilities of architects and architecture in society. It also strives to incorporate a larger philosophical discussion regarding our current and future built environment that will enable students to be active participants in later discussions and decisions, regardless of their eventual career path.
Architecture is defined as the physical embodiment of beauty in the built environment. According to the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, buildings must embody 3 essential elements – firmness, commodity, and delight. In other words, buildings must be well-built, useful, and, most of all, beautiful. The architecture curriculum at Deerfield continues the Classical tradition through the ideas, theory, methods, and tools of traditional design and its emphasis on sustainable, human-scaled buildings strongly rooted in a sense of place. Towards that end, students are taught using traditional drafting, drawing, rendering, and model-buildings techniques before translating those skills to the computer. The courses focus on the timeless qualities of beauty, harmony, elegance and balance to produce drawings, designs, and models that emphasize connections with both the tradition of architecture as well as 21st century needs and technology. The Deerfield Academy campus and the surrounding environment are utilized as much as possible to illustrate topics and concepts covered in class.
Students are introduced to the discipline of architecture through a series of lectures, readings, campus tours, and drawing and design exercises. Topics covered include drawing and design skills, the history and philosophy of architecture, and materials and construction techniques. Beyond the introduction to the design and production components of architecture, and perhaps even more importantly, the courses aim to increase the architectural awareness of the students. Students with knowledge and experience in architecture are better, more broadly educated future citizens and better able to participate in decisions regarding the built environment. The curriculum is designed to increase the student’s appreciation of the built environment while also allowing them to develop critical thinking skills about its future. Additionally, exposure to design principles and the iterative process is a valuable experience that translates to many different disciplines.