TTU College of Architecture in El Paso Counters Hispanic Deficit in Field of Architecture
Industry: Commerical Building
Out of Daniel Hudson Burnham’s Union Depot, Texas Tech University’s El Paso College of Architecture graduates 90% Hispanic students with 2% Hispanic architects nationally
El Paso, TX (PRUnderground) August 20th, 2014
Though El Paso’s best known architect is the late Henry Trost, the city’s Historic Union Depot, the base for Texas Tech University College of Architecture of El Paso’s offices, was designed by an architect of national acclaim: Daniel Hudson Burnham.
“People often say, ‘we have an amazing train station!’ yet they don’t recognize the building’s true significance,” says TTU College of Architecture at El Paso Director, Robert González. “Burnham was the first architect to design high rises in Chicago, including the Flatiron Building in New York.”
González explains that Burnham was a lead members of the Chicago School alongside such greats as Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
“It’s just the most amazing experience for the students to be in this historic building,” says Gonzalez. “There is a little bit of a high for both the students and faculty, knowing we are occupying a really special place!”
The El Paso branch of the Lubbock-based University stands out in many ways, but the student demographic is perhaps most striking. Nationally, less than 2% of architects are Hispanic yet at TTU’s El Paso program, 90% of graduates are Hispanic and 15% of the students come from Ciudad Juarez.
In 2011 the College received a $5.9 million Department of Education HSI STEM grant, in part because of its demographic. The grant has brought together the TTU College of Architecture with El Paso Community College to develop a joint pathway toward a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture.
This groundbreaking collaboration will reduce barriers to graduation for local students who can stay in the city throughout their four year degree. The program is also a pilot which is hoped to be replicated across the region and potentially nation for partnerships between community colleges and accredited University Architecture programs.
Students in the El Paso Program can follow their Bachelors degree with a 1 1/2 year Masters degree on the the Lubbock campus. Yet González encourages his students to explore all their options. “Our goal is to encourage students to go everywhere. We have students who now study at UNM and Harvard. They are competitive and they will get in.”
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