Chair's Statement

Heather Roberge

Architecture & Urban Design



An architecture school is first and foremost a champion of ideas and their expression. At UCLA Architecture and Urban Design (AUD), ideas motivate our work both as individuals and as a creative community. These ideas are reflections of our critical engagement with the history and theory of architecture, and the future contingencies of contemporary urban culture. These ideas reflect our observations about the rapidly changing world with its accelerating technological invention, mass urbanization, new modes of transportation, and social and environmental flux. These ideas reflect the potentials afforded by the media we use to describe and engage these realities. Importantly, these ideas are at once a reflection of external and internal cultures. Like all forms of creative expression, architectural ideas reflect our understanding of some aspect of the world external to architecture as well as architecture’s ever transforming disciplinary knowledge. In short, architecture imagines new futures. These possible futures are expressed in a variety of forms: from the design of spaces, objects, buildings, urban environments, urban strategy, and images to the writing of a compelling story or scholarly text.

In a time of social, political, technological, and environmental uncertainty, the field of architecture is contested territory. With such uncertainty, educators are staking out diverse territories and adopting parallel ideologies: technological positivism, environmental stewardship, social activism, escapist fantasy, speculative realism, the security of disciplinary consensus and more. The work of our faculty and students reflects this contested territory. We stake claims to different ambitions. We promote different values. We inhabit multiple worlds-worlds that coexist. We see this diversity of thought as crucial to fostering robust intellectual and ideological debate. By framing carefully articulated perspectives, and developing design and scholarly methods, we explore ideas through creative inquiry. These inquiries illuminate different worlds, engage their logics, and propose creative responses with equal measures of expertise, optimism, and vision.  

Our common vision is to champion and expand the influence of architecture in society. We don’t simply train architects and urban designers; we train thought leaders, educators, scholars, and artists. Our students produce compelling projects and impact culture broadly across the intersecting vectors of design, media, technology and urbanism. Our IDEAS campus is an incubator for collaborative, cross-disciplinary design research. Students and faculty work with partners across entertainment, media, technology and urban strategy applying the analytical and design processes of architecture and urban design to emerging developments in these industries. By engaging with experts from other fields, we expand architecture’s field of influence and leverage design to propose alternative, more intelligent futures. 

Heather Roberge, Chair