UW Today

This is an archived article.

September 25, 2008

UW architecture and urban planning renamed the College of Built Environments

It’s official: The College of Architecture and Urban Planning has been renamed the College of Built Environments.

The Board of Regents approved a request from Dean Daniel S. Friedman and his faculty to change the name on Sept. 18. The new name takes effect Jan. 1.

“‘College of Built Environments’ better reflects our core responsibility to 21st-century challenges — urbanization, climate change and livable communities,” said Friedman, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. “Environmental integrity demands an increasingly interdisciplinary approach to design, planning and construction.”

“Built environment” refers to surroundings human beings construct — from cities and transportation systems to houses and gardens.

The name “College of Built Environments” is unique in the U.S., but many universities abroad favor “School of the Built Environment” for colleges that include architecture, engineering and construction programs. In the U.S., these sectors contribute $1.72 trillion to the gross national product each year, nearly 14 percent of the total. The UW is also one of only a dozen American universities that house architecture and construction management degree programs in the same college.

The UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning already awards doctorates in the “built environment.” The new name at the UW also reflects a changing and increasingly urban world. This year for the first time, half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and the number is projected to reach 70 percent by 2050, according to the United Nations.

In changing the college name, Friedman said, he and his faculty align their core mission toward sustainable practices and environmental quality, the direction of their industry. It’s critical because according to Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that focuses on the building sector and global warming, buildings account for nearly 48 percent of all greenhouse gases.

The name change also reflects a larger, more diverse college than in the past. Formal study in architecture began at the UW in 1914. In 1957, the University upgraded what had been an architecture school to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In the 1960s, the college expanded to include landscape architecture and construction management. Today it includes four departments offering nine degree programs and supporting eight research centers and laboratories, including an urban ecology lab, a green futures lab and real estate studies.

The new name follows a yearlong discussion among faculty members and a collegewide poll.

“The choice recognizes our unique intellectual and professional engagement with complex realities of the constructed world,” Friedman said. “As designers, planners, scholars and builders, we directly influence the health, safety and aesthetic vitality of homes, workplaces, neighborhoods and cities.”