Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design has once again been recognized as a leader for the strength of its educational programs and the quality of its graduates in the 2019-2020 rankings of America’s Top-Ranked Architecture and Design Schools, published by DesignIntelligence.

Part of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, the school’s undergraduate program in architecture is ranked as the No. 6 most admired program nationally, moving up two spots from the previous year. The graduate program also advanced two spots to be ranked 13th most admired. Combined, graduates from these programs rank as No. 4 in most hired by firms across the country.

The undergraduate program in architecture also ranked highly across several skills assessment areas, coming in No. 2 in construction methods and materials, No. 3 in sustainability, and No. 4 in research. The graduate architecture program was also recognized for its strengths in construction methods and materials, tying for No. 5 alongside Yale University.

In interior design, the undergraduate program was ranked as the No. 11 most admired and also rose three spots in the most hired category to No. 5 in the country.  

Landscape architecture sketch workshop
Landscape architecture students participate in an outdoor sketch workshop. Graduates from Virginia Tech's undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture programs were recognized as No. 4 in most hired by firms across the country.

The landscape architecture program also ranked well among other schools. The undergraduate program moved up to the No. 13 spot, with the graduate program ranking No. 18 among most admired. Combined, graduates from these programs were No. 4 in most hired, advancing three spots from last year. 

Across the board, both the architecture and interior design programs made the top 10 in every focus area (12 total), placing especially high in construction materials and methods, design technologies, engineering fundamentals, healthy built environments, interdisciplinary studies, practice management, project planning and management, and sustainable built environments.

“These rankings are a great testament to architecture and design faculty, student, and program excellence,” said Richard Blythe, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “We’re proud that the historical and emerging strengths of our curriculum and approach are continually recognized by firms and professionals across the country.”

The rankings, published annually by DesignIntelligence and in Architectural Record’s “America’s Top Architecture Schools 2020,” are the only national college rankings focused exclusively on architecture and design schools. The results are based on survey responses from more than 12,000 hiring professionals, deans, program chairs, department heads, recent alumni, and current students in architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture programs. DesignIntelligence has conducted surveys to determine the top ranked schools in architecture and design since 1999.

Architecture summer transfer lab design review
Students participate in a summer transfer lab review session in Burchard Hall. Survey results indicated that students in programs with intentional overlap between related disciplines, such as technology, construction engineering, and design innovation, were better suited for career success.

More accolades were received by two Virginia Tech architecture and design professors, who were recognized among the “Most Admired Educators” in their disciplines.

Donna Dunay, professor of architecture, was cited for her role in helping students connect the world of design to the realities of the work environment, and in understanding the importance of making project scale accessible to clients. Dunay was also recognized for her work highlighting the history of women in architecture.

Lisa Tucker, professor and program chair of interior design, was recognized for her exemplary and empathetic student focus. In addition, the award noted her “incredible knowledge on the build environment. She always pushes her students to be better and is always there to offer expert advice on anything a student comes to her with. She cares deeply for the Interior Design program at Virginia Tech and takes time to make sure every student succeeds.”

Of note in this year’s rankings summary was an emphasis by DesignIntelligence on the blurring lines between building design and technology. Also touted was increasing student empowerment for emerging changes in the job market.

DesignIntelligence describes a positive outlook for graduates entering the field, noting that having cross-disciplinary talent with problem-solving skills developed in multiple environments will be a key asset. Increased adaptability will help transform industry values while making way for “an accompanying enhanced reward system.”

These insights indicate that programs committed to excellence and learning across a continuum of related disciplines – including technology, construction engineering, and innovative design – are well situated to prepare students for optimum success in the workforce. In that regard, Virginia Tech’s architecture and design programs are ahead of the curve.  

For complete survey results as well as survey methodology, please refer to the DesignIntelligence website.