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									The Institute for Traditional Architecture

Many members of the Institute of Classical Architecture will have already heard of – and

some will have participated in – the launch of a new organization with a similar name,

complementary aim, and yet with a distinctive purpose and program. The Institute for

Traditional Architecture was formally launched at a three-day symposium, held last

month in the “New Urbanist” town of Windsor, Florida which was developed by the

weekend’s hosts, Galen and Hillary Weston. Many figures from the worlds of traditional

and classical architecture gathered to discuss and develop the new Institute’s role.

The Institute, or ITA as it will be known, will be headed by Dr. Richard John, the former

director of the Prince of Wales’s Institute in London and the Prince of Wales’s American

Summer School; he is now a faculty member of the department of Architecture at the

University of Miami. Dr. John’s fellow directors will include Arnold Chace, Andres

Duany, Ray Gindroz, and Leon Krier, whose book, Architecture – Choice or Fate, will

be the principal textbook on Urbanism employed by the ITA.

The directors were joined at the Windsor symposium by many participants and educators

from across the United States, including representatives from the Universities of Notre

Dame, Miami and Florida Atlantic. The Institute of Classical Architecture was

represented by its President, Gil Schafer and by Advisory Council member Christine

The Symposium comprised a number of sessions and workshops outlining both the broad

strategy of the new Institute and detailed discussion of elements of the courses, including

examination of the core textbooks and of the teaching program. Tours of Windsor were

led by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

The Institute has been founded to provide a distinctive note in American architectural

education: “An educational alternative is necessary because most American architecture

schools currently refuse to teach traditional architecture.” Its primary target is to improve

the built environment of “middle-America” – the massive suburban sprawl that is now, of

course, a topic of national political significance. It is the Institute’s hope that a simple

program of education would do an enormous amount to improve general standards of

developer homebuilding across the States. The program will concentrate on the

techniques of traditional architecture alongside urbanism and architectural composition

and drawing, and will be run on a formal apprenticeship system similar to the one which

existed both in the United States and Europe prior to the 1920’s, when the rise of

architectural education taught exclusively in the big schools began to dominate the scene.

Initially, some twenty-four students will be apprenticed to twenty-four Tutors –

practicing architects across the United States. The course will consist of a number of

design assignments sent periodically by mail or e-mail to the apprentice; the pace of the

work would allow the student to continue a full-time occupation. The course is open only

to those with some building experience and will last for one year. It will include two
symposia for instructive courses. It is envisioned that the first course of study will begin

in the Fall of 2000.

The new concentration on a practice-based apprenticeship system may represent the best

chance yet for learning the methods of traditional architecture where they are taught most

vibrantly – in the increasingly powerful traditional practices across America. The ICA

will follow its development with great interest and support in the years to come.

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