Twenty five years ago, the FIU | School of Architecture (SOA) was founded as the first public school of architecture in Miami, Florida. Built on the guiding vision of providing access to excellence, today, a short quarter century later, the FIU | SOA is housed in the iconic Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building; graduates more Hispanic design students than any other architecture school in the nation; and consistently ranks in the Top 20 among public schools of architecture in the United States.
The SOA’s founding dean, William G. “Bill” McMinn, an accomplished practitioner and educator, was recruited to FIU for the purpose of establishing the SOA. Under Dean McMinn’s visionary leadership from 1997-2000, the SOA immediately flourished, gaining full accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board and initiating the international design competition that led to the construction of the Bernard Tschumi-designed Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building on our Modesto Maidique Campus.
Juan Antonio Bueno, noted Professor of Landscape Architecture, next served as dean of the School of Architecture from 2000-2009. Under Dean Bueno’s leadership, the SOA’s global reputation and enrollment grew exponentially, becoming one of the first institutions in the country to begin accepting first year undergraduate students into graduate degree programs in architecture, interior architecture, and landscape architecture, all leading to their first professional degree. In 2006, Dean Bueno became the founding dean of the FIU | College of Architecture + The Arts, integrating architecture, design, and the visual and performing arts under the newly established college.
Personally, I am honored and humbled to have served as dean of the FIU | College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, which includes the School of Architecture, for the past 13 years, from 2009–present. I have had the luxury of inheriting my successors’ accomplishments and the privilege of working with amazingly talented students and some of the most intelligent, driven, and creative colleagues in the world. I can confidently — and without reservation — say we have a world-class faculty and student body.
I am especially proud that working together, we have built upon our founding faculty members’ contributions and their traditions, such as Professor Jaime Canaves’ Walk on Water and Professor Janine King’s Festival of the Trees. I am equally proud that we simultaneously and collegially are forever challenging ourselves and one another to keep looking forward, having developed three, 5-year strategic plans during my time as dean. Each of these strategic plans began by our reaffirming the SOA’s unifying student-centric mission, ensuring we a) understand and b) do what is necessary to prepare our students for success.
In large part, we have accomplished this by:
- recruiting and retaining a world class faculty of professional, licensed practitioners and educators.
- expanding enrollment and career-ready employment opportunities for our students by developing innovative programs, such as our accelerated graduate degree programs in architecture, interior architecture and landscape architecture and our Doctor of Design (DDes), one of only six such degree programs in the country.
- growing our transformative study abroad programs and expanding our strategic, physical footprint in South Florida, creating studio space on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach and in Wynwood, Miami’s arts district.
- establishing signature partnerships with industry, enhancing our teaching and research and, in many cases, leading to early licensure of our students.
- incorporating robotics, immersive and emerging technologies, and resilient, climate-change initiatives into our curriculum, supporting our learn-by-doing philosophy and our interdisciplinary applied research.
So, as you review the calendar of events celebrating our Silver Anniversary and consider which ones to participate in (we hope you join us for all of them!), I ask that you view our invitation as an opportunity to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our past and present students, faculty, professional staff, alumni, supporters, chairs, directors, deans, trustees, and presidents — all of whom have been instrumental in laying the foundation of the SOA and transforming FIU into the fastest rising university in the country.
I also ask that you view our invitation as an opportunity to honor their legacies by actively joining us in envisioning our future by doing what our founders demonstrated for us as the best path forward: always be leading from the front, always be finding ways to improve and better serve, and always be challenging ourselves and those around us.
It is in that FIU | SOA Blue and Gold Spirit, I invite you to participate in our celebratory events, share your favorite FIU | SOA memories with us online, and join us in answering a most difficult, but critically important question:
What must architecture education be in 1, 5, 10, 20 years if we are to continue to serve our students and our communities well?
Here’s to our past and to our future!