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DesignIntelligence in 2022

August 15, 2022

Dear Friends in the Design Community,

For a number of us who lead institutions dedicated to the education of architects and landscape architects, the pandemic provided the opportunity to set competition aside and share our knowledge for the benefit of our students, present and future. In a series of informal discussions over the past two+ years, we learned that schools like ours have more in common than differences, and that our differences—in curriculum, faculty, facilities, and culture—are of benefit to our students and the professions.

One area of common concern we identified is the extent to which some ranking systems are out of touch with the goals and ambitions of our faculty and students for the future of design. Reflecting views expressed throughout our communities, we have decided not to participate in the DesignIntelligence survey. However well-intentioned they may be, we believe that the DI rankings have the potential to create a disservice to the public.

After bringing our concerns to the DesignIntelligence leadership in the early days of the pandemic (at which point they paused the survey temporarily, thankfully), we were disappointed to be met with limited change when their publication was restarted as “ratings” instead of “rankings” and deans and department chairs were invited to provide a handful of unverified data points about their programs. Given the state of the world, it’s our belief that DesignIntelligence, with an audience of thousands of prospective students—as well as their parents and potential employers—should be helping to improve design’s position in the U.S., celebrating the many varied strengths thatexist across institutions.

Our concerns about the DI survey can be summarized as follows:

  • It lacks rigor.
  • It hurts smaller schools, simply because they have fewer students and alumni to respond to surveys.
  • It is out of step with student and faculty concerns about the future of design.
  • It seems suspect that any private company, without oversight or independent verification, should have such influence over the career decisions of aspiring designers.
  • It lacks evidence-based purpose, while accreditation offers a way for the public to compare programs.
  • It takes up valuable faculty and staff time that could be better used to support students.

Design education is not a popularity contest. Although generally our schools have been highly ranked in past DesignIntelligence reports, and benefitted from the attention, we believe that it is time to stop participating.

Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP
Dean and J.M. Hoppin Professor of Architecture
Yale School of Architecture

Carmon Colangelo
Ralph J. Nagel Dean
E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Renee Y. Chow
William W. Wurster Dean
College of Environmental Design
University of California, Berkeley

Rodolphe el-Khoury
School of Architecture
University of Miami

Robert Alexander González, AIA
Dean and Professor of Architecture
School of Architecture + Planning
University of New Mexico

Marta Gutman
Dean and Professor of Architecture, Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York | CUNY
Professor of Art History and Earth and Environmental Sciences, Graduate Center | CUNY

Igor Marjanović
William Ward Watkin Dean and Professor
Rice Architecture

Jonathan Massey
Dean and Professor of Architecture
Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning
University of Michigan

Mónica Ponce de León
Dean and Professor
School of Architecture
Princeton University

Florencia Rodriguez
Director and Associate Professor
School of Architecture
University of Illinois in Chicago

Hashim Sarkis
Dean and Professor of Urban Planning
School of Architecture and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Brett Steele
UCLA School of the Arts & Architecture

Frederick Steiner, FASLA, SITES AP
Dean and Paley Professor
Stuart Weitzman School of Design
University of Pennsylvania

Sarah M. Whiting, Assoc. AIA
Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture
Graduate School of Design
Harvard University

Weiping Wu
Professor and Interim Dean
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Columbia University

J. Meejin Yoon, AIA
Gale and Ira Drukier Dean
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Cornell University