Now that the 2019/20 rankings are out from the independent research firm DesignIntelligence (DI), RISD’s three architecture departments have landed in various top 10 lists. And for the second year running, Interior Architecture Department Head Liliane Wong is recognized as one of the 25 most admired architectural educators in the US.
DI conducts its survey of America’s top architecture schools once a year, ranking undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of professionals who hire graduates of these programs. This year more than 12,000 practicing architects responded to the survey.
RISD’s undergrad program in Architecture ranked second (up from #7 in 2017 when Department Head Amy Kulper and Graduate Program Director Carl Lostritto first began their tenures) and overall the department ranked fifth in the category Most Hired from Architecture Schools.
“Notably—and a credit to Carl’s hard work and tenacity—our graduate program made the biggest change of ranking of any program this year,” Kulper says, “moving from #19 to #8.”
She also attributes the positive DI rankings “to the generation of new faculty currently making a splash in the department” and adds: “I hope that this is only the beginning of a longer trajectory of achievement for the department.”
As with architecture, the DI organizers look to the leaders and hiring managers of interior design and landscape architecture firms in compiling their annual rankings, noting that “through hiring and working with graduates of many different programs, [they] have a perspective on the relative strengths of schools and how well graduates are prepared for professional practice.”
Based on their assessment, RISD’s Interior Architecture programs retained the #3 spots this year at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (behind SCAD and Pratt) and the graduate program in Landscape Architecture took the #9 spot again this year.
In selecting the most admired educators, DI staff consider input from thousands of design professionals, academic department heads and students. Wong’s strengths as an educator are many, with students and colleagues citing “her tenacity in pursuing the best,” along with her “approachability and sensitivity.” She has been teaching at RISD since 1998 and co-edits Int/AR Journal, the department’s annual publication focused on sustainability and adaptive reuse.
Students surveyed this year surprised DI researchers in responding to the question: “If there were no barriers, what firm would you want to work for?”
Their top response: their own. This unexpected nod to entrepreneurship echoes RISD’s recent alumni survey, which found that 45% of respondents said they have started their own business or organization.
—photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH