Left: Studios in Building DD, ca 1968 - Right: The Slide Room, ca 1972

From the beginning, we aspired to excellence in architectural education. In the cultural context of the 1960's, we also wanted work in the School to be socially relevant and to engage students in some of the current environmental design problems and issues confronting our community and nation. To this end, studio work included theoretical studies, but also included real-world design projects involving citizen ‘users' in setting design project parameters and goals, and in critiquing student work. Sometimes, we framed this studio work as design competitions. We also believed in the principle of ‘learning from building', so some of these early projects involved students and faculty in the actual building of winning student designs.


In the early 1960's, the University of Maryland at College Park decided to consider establishing a professional program in architecture. The professional community strongly supported the initiative; at the time, no professional architecture programs were offered in the state. University President Wilson Elkins requested advice on the inauguration of the program from the American Institute of Architects. Institute President Charles Nes, a Baltimore Architect, formed an A.I.A. advisory commission, with himself as chairman, and in 1964 the commission issued its recommendations to the University. Among them were that the program be located on the UMCP campus and that consideration be given to establishing an undergraduate major in architecture and a graduate program leading to the professional Master of Architecture degree.


The paperwork required by the Maryland higher education commission for approval of the new program included a brief outlining the justification for the program, initial operating budget projections, and a planning budget for new facilities. (Ultimately, Charles Nes's firm, Fisher Nes Campbell Partners, was selected to design the permanent building for the School.) In the interim, the University designated Building DD, a temporary World War II building, as the first home for the School. By the time the School moved into its new building in 1971, our little home campus had grown to include Building DD and four additional temporary structures.


In the spring of 1967, after a national search, the University invited John W. Hill, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Kentucky, to accept the deanship. In order to ensure that he and the University were on the same page, Professor Hill wrote a ‘white paper' to the University outlining his thoughts about the management and growth of the school, and the resources and components needed to ensure the program's quality. It described the need for an architectural ‘slides' collection and an architectural library in the school, argued for the presence of a supply store and a coffee shop, and described a future in which academic programs in landscape architecture, urban planning and architectural historic preservation might also be offered. The white paper helped facilitate communication between the dean and the University as the fledgling program was initiated and grew. Vice President for Academic Affairs R. Lee Hornbake, to whom the dean reported, was notably supportive as the fledgling program began to spread its wings. He was instrumental in the School's achievement of its early successes.


In the spring and summer of 1967, Dean Hill designed alterations to Building DD to house offices, classrooms, a slides library and a branch library, and hired the first four faculty members, John Wiebenson, Dale Hutton, Rurik Ekstrom and Robert Bell. Calliopi ‘Poppy' Ratcliff was recruited from another campus position as administrative assistant to the dean, and Elizabeth Alley was recruited to establish the visual aids collection. Poppy was fluent in University procedures and mechanisms, and as time passed became a much-admired expert on all things essential to the happiness of the dean, faculty and students. Betsy had been involved in the management of the art and architecture visual aids collection at Princeton; fortuitously, she moved to UMCP with her physicist husband just in time to join our school and lead in the formation of what has become one of the finest visual aids collections in the United States, at the present writing going ‘digital'. Berna Neal was hired by the University Library to manage the architecture library. She was considered a de facto member of the school's community. Berna was instrumental in directing the formation of a collection which started out as 5000 volumes and is now considered one of the finest architectural libraries in the nation. With Berna's appointment, staffing was complete for the arrival of the school's first students.


Noting that fifty-seven students were on campus waiting for the school to start in the fall of '67, Dean Hill convinced Dr. Hornbake that the program should initially be offered as a five-year undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Architecture professional degree. At the time, B.Arch. professional degree programs were beginning to give way to M.Arch. professional degree programs. Initiating the program at Maryland as a five-year program would enhance our ability to recruit qualified students and form a strong foundation for the transformation to an M.Arch. professional degree program when the school came of age. (In 1980, the transition was successfully inaugurated.) The dean's year-by-year curricular development plan for the School was based on limiting the number of students in, and avoiding duplicate sections of, required courses. It resulted in a School size of about three hundred architecture students. The plan comprised the basis of our successful argument for selective admissions to the School, a first for University of Maryland undergraduate programs, and established a definitive program for the design of the School's permanent building. We were off and running.


1964 AIA blue-ribbon committee recommends that the University of Maryland open an architectural school at the College Park campus
1967 School of Architecture opens to students
Five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program established
John Hill appointed first Dean and served until 1981

School moves into present building.

Bachelor of Architecture program gains full accreditation.

1970 Accredited Master of Community Planning degree established in the School of Social Work and Community Planning at the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB)
1980 Certificate program in Historic Preservation established
1982 John Steffian appointed Dean and served until 1990
1985 Master of Architecture program gains full accreditation
1988 Master of Community Planning program moves from Baltimore to College Park
1991 Steven Hurtt appointed Dean and served until 2004
1992 Masters of Community Planning Program moves from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences to the School of Architecture
2000 The school is renamed the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation to reflect its increasingly diverse and interdisciplinary offerings
2001 Master of Historic Preservation degree program established.
The National Center for Smart Growth Education and Research was established as a cooperative venture of four academic units: Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Public Affairs, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Engineering
2002 Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design program established
2004 Garth C. Rockcastle appointed Dean and served until 2010.
2006 Master of Real Estate Development program established
2007 Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development established with a gift from Baltimore Developer and Maryland Alumus, John Colvin
2007 University of Maryland places 2nd in the world in the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon with our entry LEAFHouse
2010 David Cronrath becomes Dean of the School
2011 University of Maryland's submission to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon wins first place for the design of Watershed. Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) submitted into the Congressional Record the following statement congratulating the University of Maryland Solar Decathlon Team: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a talented team of students from my alma mater, the University of Maryland, who this weekend won first place at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011 here in Washington.
2011 The University of Maryland — Morgan State Center for Economic Development becomes a designated University Center funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The center works with State and local economic developers on applied research and technical assistance projects.
2012 The School celebrates 40 years since the first graduating class.

Students capture the final four in the ULI competition.  Matt Bell is professor advising the team.


The School's National Center for Smart Growth launches a mjor new initiative for community outreach, Program for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) a university-wide experienced based learning platform for stduents.  The PALS program is part of the University's commitment to sustainability and entrepreneurship.