The study of architecture at Princeton University began in 1832 with a course taught by Professor Joseph Henry, an amateur architect and scientist who later became the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The course, which covered the history of architecture including the classification of architecture, styles, and marbles, was the first humanities course taught at the College. Henry lectured on the subject until 1837, after which faculty members from various disciplines offered the course on a sporadic basis. The study of architecture continued informally throughout the latter part of the 1870s and into the 1880s.
The formal study of architecture returned in 1882 when the Department of Art and Archaeology was founded and Professor Allan Marquand offered a course in the history of Christian architecture. A course on the elements of architecture and historical drawing was offered beginning in 1902, and professional design courses were added to the curriculum in 1915. In the same year a committee was formed to investigate the formation of a School of Architecture. Arrangements had been made to open a School of Architecture in the fall of 1917, but World War I delayed the official opening of the School until 1919.
As the School expanded, more space was required, and a new School of Architecture building was constructed on land adjacent to the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Art Museum. The building, dedicated in October 1963, housed drafting rooms, a freehand drawing room, a classroom, a seminar room, an exhibition gallery, faculty offices with preceptorial areas, a faculty conference room, the Dean’s office, and the Winton Reading Room. In addition, there was space for the offices of the Center of Urban Research and a large sculpture studio and outdoor exhibition court for the Creative Arts Program.
In 2007, the School completed construction of its first significant addition since the building was constructed in 1962. Designed by the New York firm of ARO (Stephen Cassell ’86 and Adam Yarinsky ’87), this three story glass and steel pavilion houses a new elevator and public stair, entry lobby, and student lounge space. Through associated program upgrades, the School added new facilities to the building, including a model-making workshop and digital fabrication equipment. Precisely detailed and constructed, the new addition serves as an example of the School’s commitment to design excellence.
Although the School of Architecture has expanded its facility, faculty, and student body over the years, it retains a small size that encourages close contact between faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates. From the beginning, the School of Architecture’s curriculum has always responded to changes in the profession and in architectural education, providing students with courses that reflect contemporary and emerging issues in architecture. Within this flexible academic framework, the School of Architecture has remained committed to its original goals: providing undergraduates with a well-rounded liberal arts education and a strong basis for additional studies in architecture, and offering graduate students a comprehensive education in design, technology, and the history and theories of architecture.