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Architecture students study the classics through NYC-based program

June 28, 2018

Contact:  Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Two Architecture students, Dean and faculty members standing in front of Architecture building.
Architecture students Jocelyn Johnson and Africa Washington (center) stand 
with TSACS Dean and faculty members in front of Architecture building.

Two first-year Tuskegee University architecture students have been selected for a New York-based program exposing them to classical architecture instruction from distinguished and recognized educators this summer.

Jocelyn Johnson and Africa Washington are spending a month at New York’s Institute of Classical Architecture and Art’s 2018 Summer Program in Classical Architecture program. The pair were awarded full tuition and housing scholarships after their portfolios of past projects and drawings were evaluated as part of the program’s application process.

Johnson and Washington are expected to learn the practice, understanding and appreciation of classical design.

“I believe classical architecture is the foundation to understanding what architecture is really about,” Johnson said, crediting her interest in the program to a desire of wanting to explore classical architecture.

The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art provides a modern-day Beaux-Arts training, much like the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where students are taught to look to the classical tradition and develop the hand-drafting skills that are slowly being forgotten as many architecture schools focus on computer-based learning and drawing.

Johnson said the program has been a great experience and she’s learning new techniques.

“I’m learning how to be more disciplined ¬–– focusing on what style of architecture I want to pursue and enhancing my hand-drafting, analytical and critical-thinking skills,” said noted.

During the intensive program, the students are engaging directly with leading design firms, as well as receiving instruction taught by architects and faculty active in the field of classical and traditional design practice and teaching.

Washington said the instructional elements of the program have been both interesting and rewarding.

“This summer program has allowed me to explore other interests that I might not have the opportunity to consider,” Washington said. “The program has allowed us to explore sites around New York and to be among other like-minded individuals,” she added.

Thomas Kaufmann, the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science’s library supervisor, noted that the ICAA Summer Program in Classical Architecture is one of a very limited number of classical architecture programs in the nation.

“Students are instructed in how to draw the ‘Classical Orders of Architecture’ — Doric, Ionic and Corinthian — and proportion, ornament, and other elements of classical architecture via the laboratory of ‘Classical New York’ — the repository of the very best classical architecture done in America,” he said.

Tuskegee’s historic architecture and construction science program, which created the early and canonical campus architecture enjoyed today, was based upon the ideals of the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts School — as were so many American schools of architecture until the Modern School of Architecture appeared during the late 30s and post-WWII.

“The Modern School supplanted the ideas of the Beaux-Arts School, so much so that many felt the knowledge for how to do classical buildings well was largely lost for several decades, or rather, there were very few who knew and understood the classical language,” Kaufmann said.

“The Institute was founded to recover this deficit of the knowledge and practice of the classical, so, in turn, students will be able to see the buildings at Tuskegee in much the same way as Robert R. Taylor, Walter T. Bailey and others who designed buildings at that time,” he noted.

Upon completion of the summer course, Johnson and Washington will receive the Certificate in Classical Architecture and return to Tuskegee with new skills — not to mention a vision and passion for the classical architecture of the Tuskegee University campus and beyond.

To learn more about Tuskegee University’s architecture and construction science program, visit

© 2018, Tuskegee University