The term Architecture springs from the ancient Greek Arkhitéktōn, “architect” meaning chief builder or principal craftsman:
arkhi - first, chief, primeval
téktōn - the science or art of assembling, shaping, or ornamenting materials in construction.
The Classical Architecture and Design specialization at the American College of the Building Arts is the latest addition to the College offerings. We have understood, for over a decade, the need to infuse each trade specialization with a strong background in traditional methodology as it applies to contemporary building; but also a strong background in the classical tradition when it comes to understanding the built environment and architecture as a whole. The decision to add a specialization that focuses first and foremost around the lessons of classical architecture springs from the realization that most of the offerings in design and architecture programs around the county have moved further and further away from the practical model and steadily toward a theoretical model. This shift away from the practical is antithetical to the ideas that we set forth at the founding of the College. We saw no programs that focus specifically in the Classical Tradition in the Southeast, we saw no programs specifically integrating the practical day to day hands on approach of the Building Arts and we felt Charleston and ACBA were the perfect place to further this idea.
The four year Classical Architecture and Design specialization focuses on the foundations of Classical and Traditional design. The student will be surrounded by professors with knowledge of Old and New World Materials as well as Sacred Geometries. Students will learn how these ancient formulae informed our built environment in millennia past and how they can inform in millennia future. Additionally, courses like Architectural History, to study buildings that have withstood the tests and whims of our time and Technical Drafting and Artistic Drawing to train the mind to communicate with the hands, these will enhance and fortify the student experience.
We perceive the importance of the Urban Environment and Domestic Study courses in cities like Washington DC and New York City as well as study abroad courses in cities like Rome and Naples figure prominently into our curricula.
Design Studios focus each semester, of the four year program, in different categories like Secular Civic and Residential as well as Classical Interiors and Landscape. This allows the student to understand how to apply Classical Knowledge at all scales of building all the while learning the practical applications of Contemporary Building Practice. Understanding how buildings stand up and function on a building site comes from courses in Structural Systems and Professional Practice provides a foundation of practical information to assist students in building a successful and flexible design career.
Beyond English, Mathematics, Business Management, Accounting and other core curricula; students of the Classical Architecture & Design specialization also choose from Cognate Electives that tie directly into the existing Building Arts courses. Wood Carving, Stone Carving, Scagliola, Gilding, Colour Theory and Watercolour Rendering are just some of the instruction that further expose the design student to the practical Art of Building.
We believe that this program comes the closest to addressing, in modern day, what the Greeks understood as Arkhitéktōn - Master Builder.