Mission and Vision
The Department of Architecture is a diverse community of practitioners, teachers, and students dedicated to educating future architectural professionals and growing the knowledge base of the profession. Our commitment is to engage architecture in its civic, social, and professional realms for the ultimate benefit of the built environment and those who use it.
The Mission of the University of Hartford’s Department of Architecture fits within the larger Mission of the University. The University of Hartford was founded in 1957 by a group of community leaders who envisioned an institution of higher learning that would serve the Greater Hartford region. The University’s description of itself as “a private university with a public purpose” is seen in the various ways that the University has over the years served the world beyond its campus, producing students for careers as active and productive citizens, sending graduates all over the world to become leaders in shaping tomorrow. Some concrete examples of the fulfillment of the University’s Mission are as follows:
- Community Division of the Hartt School (providing performing arts education and training for more than 3,000, from children to adults, every semester);
- The Micro-Business Incubator on Albany Avenue, where Barney School of Business students provide valuable consulting services for small business owners;
- Project Horizon, which places nursing students in homeless shelters throughout Hartford;
- Partnership with the public school system, through which each semester 300 University students provide a wide variety of services to students in nine schools in the City of Hartford through the Education Main Street program;
- Two Magnet Schools on campus, which demonstrates the University’s commitment to forging strong connections between K-12 and higher education.
The Department of Architecture views its Mission as part of the University’s commitment as a private institution dedicated to public purpose and influence. It shares the vision expressed in the University of Hartford motto, found on the University seal: Ad Humanitatem, “For humanity.”
The Architecture Department’s commitment to the education of architects grew from the initiative of several architects in the Greater Hartford region, with the support of the AIA/Connecticut chapter, who in the mid 1990s met with the University’s president to encourage the institution of a professional architectural degree program that would help serve the architectural community—both locally and in the New England region—and offer a choice in architectural education in Connecticut. The AIA/Connecticut chapter has championed the Department of Architecture over the years, as have practitioners throughout the Greater Hartford region. Building Community, Ernest Boyer and Lee Mitgang’s landmark report on architectural education, underscored the need for greater connections between the architectural academia and the world beyond the campus. From this history, the Architecture Department views its Mission of “public purpose” in three realms: Civic, Social, and Professional.
The Civic Realm: Located in the City of Hartford, The Department of Architecture sees the city as a “laboratory of opportunity” in the education of future architects. Urban sites are the basis of many studio projects that respond to issues of density, civic life, and the role of the urban environment in creating dynamic settings for the pursuit of public life. Past projects have included the design of new urban space at the city’s Wadsworth Athenaeum (one of the oldest art museums in the country); the development of a large vacant city block in downtown Hartford to instill new urban life; and the assessment of open space in the city for new civic uses. Students benefit from the insights of faculty, architects and developers, visiting critics, and lecturers engaged in civic place-making. Hartford has serious deficiencies (the density of its urban fabric has been decimated over the years) which provides opportunities for students to appraise urban challenges common in many cities, explore design solutions, and present the results in public forums.
The Social Realm: The Department of Architecture’s focus on the Social Realm responds to the role of the architect in serving the public through leadership in design, particularly social groups who have not in the past had access to the benefits of architecture. In Building Community Boyer and Mitgang lamented the fact that too often academia is viewed as a “private benefit, not a public good.” Architecture is a social art, and the Department of Architecture seeks to engage the Social Realm. A recent studio project for a mosque for a downtown Hartford site considered the needs of a growing religious population now marginalized in the U.S. Students met with leaders in the Greater Hartford Islamic community, attended prayer services, and developed designs based on ancient mosque design precedents. A Department of Architecture faculty was instrumental in the establishment and management of the University’s Center for Integrated Design. The CID brings together University of Hartford faculty from three colleges and five disciplines (engineering, architecture, visual communications, business and marketing) to respond to the needs of institutions and communities that seek design services. Through the CID, architecture faculty and students have undertaken conceptual designs for the town of Bloomfield Central Business/Community District and is currently in the early stages with the City of Hartford’s Upper Albany Town Center project. Additional projects and grants are pending.
The Professional Realm: The Department of Architecture’s mission in the Professional Realm is part of its history. The Department believes in the value of practicing architects teaching future architects. Five of the six full-time faculty are licensed architects, as are most of the adjunct faculty. The Department continues to engage the state professional society. The AIA/Connecticut chapter was an early proponent of the University’s architecture program and continues as a solid supporter. The department and the campus have served as a setting for a number of professional educational events for the region’s architects. The Department hosted an architectural education conference by the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education in the fall of 2005 James LaPosta, AIA, and James Hoagland, AIA, of the Hartford firm JCJArchitecture were the local hosts. Also, a day-long session on green design and construction was presented through the AIA/Connecticut by Steven Winter Associates. Each semester the Department provides a lecture series (underwritten by JCJArchitecture), free and open to the public, which has presented the work of practitioners from throughout the New England region and metropolitan New York, and beyond. Practicing architects from Connecticut participate in the architecture program as adjunct faculty, studio critics, review participants, and Advisory Board Members. For its students, the Department and the region’s architects offer examples of leadership within the profession.
The Civic, Social, and Professional realms reinforce the mission of architectural education at the University of Hartford, and help serve the mission of the University itself. The Department views the three realms as the bedrock of the discipline of architecture, reinforcing it as a social art with a civic purpose, created by professionals engaged with the community.