University of Memphis Photo
Architectural education at the University of Memphis began in 1965 in the Industrial Arts Program. The following year, several programs, including the new Architectural Technology Program, were combined with Industrial Arts Education to create the Department of Engineering Technology. The degree became the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology (BSET) with a major in Architectural Technology. The original concept of the Architectural Technology Program was to provide the architectural community with highly skilled design drafters with engineering-oriented backgrounds and the overall emphasis of the program was on the applied sciences. The Architectural Technology Program was accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC of ABET).
Efforts to create a professional degree in architecture at the University of Memphis began over twenty-five years ago. This has been led by faculty, local architects, and others. The first significant mention of the need for a professional architecture program was in the Downtown Development Plan prepared by Venturi Rauch and Scott Brown for the Memphis Center City Commission in 1987. The Urban Design section of the plan stressed the importance of a professional architecture program to the well-being of the city. NOTE: Before joining the faculty, Michael Hagge and James Williamson both worked on this plan: Professor Hagge as President of the Center City Development Corporation and Professor Williamson as the consulting architect in charge of the historic preservation, public and open spaces, and riverfront development segment.
In the 1990s, it became clear the program needed to evolve to better meet the needs of the students and the professional community. With the addition of new faculty and the implementation of dedicated studio space for each student, a significant change in the direction of the program took place.
The goal of creating a professional program became more fully supported and in 2000, the Architecture Program was administratively moved to the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CCFA) from the College of Engineering and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture degree was created to replace the BSET in Architectural Technology degree.
The BFA in Architecture was developed as a pre-professional, four-year program of study and is the only one of its kind in Tennessee. Although the move to CCFA and the replacement of the BSET degree with the BFA degree resulted in the loss of ABET accreditation, it provided an opportunity to develop a much stronger curriculum and pursue architectural accreditation. 
With the strong support of the professional community, the desire of Architecture faculty to develop a professional Master of Architecture degree program fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) became a focal point.  Accordingly, the move was made to officially begin formal planning for the establishment of a professional degree program in architecture.
The first step in this formal process took place in 2004, with a peer-review of the Architecture Program by two well-known and respected architectural educators, Professor Larry Speck from the University of Texas at Austin and Professor Peter Waldman from the University of Virginia.  Based upon their recommendations, the University of Memphis made the commitment to pursue a professional degree in architecture.
In 2005, the University asked former NAAB executive director Sharon Matthews to visit and offer an assessment of the BFA in Architecture degree program and to assist with the development of a plan of action to establish a professional Master of Architecture degree program. Ms. Matthews met with faculty, local architects, and university administrators over a several day period. Afterwards, a formalized planning process was implemented and support requested and received from a variety of individuals and organizations including but not limited to the Memphis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners, the City of Memphis, the County of Shelby, and several prominent architecture firms and real estate developers. This action built upon the April 1992 visit of then-NAAB Executive Director John Maudlin-Jeronimo and his recommendations to create a professional degree program and the significant changes that needed to occur before such a program could be developed and implemented.
In November 2005 a formal letter of intent to establish the Master of Architecture degree was prepared and submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) by President Shirley Raines. The faculty of the Architecture Program, working with university administrators as well as local architects, developed a curriculum for the Master of Architecture and secured approval from the graduate school. After submission of the formal proposal in September 2006, the TBR began a review process and, at the request of President Shirley Raines, worked diligently to expedite the review and approval process.
The TBR contracted with University of Texas Professor Larry Speck, based on his experience as an architectural educator and his familiarity with the Architecture Program at the University of Memphis, to review the program. Upon receiving the report from Professor Speck, the proposal was placed on the TBR agenda and approved by unanimous vote at the meeting of 28/29 June 2007. After receiving the report and recommendation from the TBR, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted to approve the proposal to establish the Master of Architecture degree at their meeting on 26 July 2007.  Professors Michael Hagge and Sherry Bryan, Adjunct Professor Frank Ricks, and AIA Tennessee President and Memphis architect Joey Hagan made the announcement at the Tennessee AIA annual convention in Nashville to a champagne toast!
In March 2008, the first NAAB site visit took place. After reviewing the team findings, Candidacy status was granted for the new Master of Architecture degree program effective 1 January 2008. The first Master of Architecture students were admitted in the fall semester of 2008.
Also in 2008, the Interior Design Program was moved into the Department of Architecture from the Department of Art.  In January 2010, a new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in Interior Design was approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education Commission.  Previously, students studying interior design at the University of Memphis received a BFA in Art with a concentration in Interior Design.  Establishing a BFA degree in Interior Design was one of the goals when the Interior Design Program moved into the Department of Architecture in 2008.

The second NAAB visit took place in March 2010 and as a result, the Master of Architecture degree program was formally granted continuation of its Candidacy effective 1 January 2010. The initial accreditation visit was then set for November 2012.

During the May 2010 commencement, the Department of Architecture celebrated the graduation of its first M.Arch student.  Pam Hurley was the first student to earn the professional, two-year Master of Architecture degree at the University of Memphis.  Five additional students received the M.Arch at the August commencement.  The Master of Architecture degree is a focus area of the University of Memphis.

The celebrating continued in 2010 when the TERRA (Technologically + Environmentally Responsive Residential Architecture) sustainable design demonstration house was awarded a LEED Platinum rating, the highest rating possible, by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).  Begun in 2005 by the Department of Architecture through its Center for Sustainable Design in the FedEx Institute of Technology, TERRA was designed by architecture students under faculty supervision and involved over 50 community partners.  From the 2007 groundbreaking to the 2009 opening and beyond, TERRA brought a new understanding of sustainable architecture and design to Memphis.  One of the main objectives of the project was to embody the idea of "green" design while blending in with the other residences in the Uptown Neighborhood, just north of Downtown Memphis. 
In September 2010, the Art Museum of the University of Memphis celebrated the life and work of pioneering American architect Paul Revere Williams with an exhibition that showcased his work and the significance of the Paul R. Williams Project. The project began with the idea of a small exhibition that would honor Williams in conjunction with the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 2007. It soon grew into a more comprehensive approach to expand expertise and include additional collaborators.  The Department of Architecture exhibit in conjunction with the Williams exhibit showcased the diversity of the community engagements activities and projects in the Department. 
In April 2011, professors Sherry Bryan (Director of the Architecture Program and Coordinator of Graduate Studies inn Architecture) and Michael Hagge (Chair of the Department of Architecture) received the 2011 Francis Gassner Award — the most prestigious honor given each year by the Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Memphis). The award recognizes outstanding contributions to Memphis' built environment and achievements in architecture.
In 2012, the team from the NAAB reviewed the Architecture Program and in March 2013 notified the University that the professional Master of Architecture degree had been awarded Initial Accreditation.  The next accreditation visit is scheduled for 2015.
Because the initial accreditation took place within two years of the first graduation, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) recognizes all of the M.Arch degrees earned from the first in 2010 through accreditation as meeting their educational requirements for registration as an architect.
Since the realization of the goal first set many years ago, the Department of Architecture has continued to develop and expanded its community outreach, research, and contribution to the Memphis and Mid-South Region.


Contact the Department of Architecture

404 Jones Hall
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152

901.678.ARCH (2724)




Text Only | Print | Got a Question? Ask TOM | Contact Us | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901/678-2000 | Copyright 2015 University of Memphis | Important Notice | Last Updated: 
Admissions | Financial Aid | Registrar | Scholarships
Office of Admissions | 201 Wilder Tower | Memphis, TN 38152 | 901-678-2111 | Email Us
Last Updated: 1/9/14