Architectural Education, Michaela Wozniak


The Beaux Arts period in Paris had four primary elements:

  • the Ecole: Ecole was the stiff, traditional study of classical painting and architecture, which culminated in the Grand Prix de Rome
  • the private ateliers: in the small independent ateliers students learned directly under a “master” with all the success of the students reflected directly back on the master
  • the Salon: The annual Paris Salon was the show in which the best works as chosen by a jury were displayed to the public
  • the café life: the Parisian life of cafes was the informal extension of the ateliers and the Ecole, in which people came together to discuss design

Wozniak suggests that the cafe life, thus the informal setting of studying has receded. She also claims that the rigid hierarchy and the division between professors as jurors and students creates a chasm between the two.

Wozniak exalts the teaching methodology of Sekou Cooke who requires that the students peer to peer one another even from the first year of their studies. Cooke gives the students a template of reaction: “What works is ____. What does not work is ____. And what could be done differently is ____.” This collaborative process according to the author, revives the informal “cafe life” setting and allows students to appreciate one another and learn form each other just like they will do in their professional life as architects.



Wozniak, M., 2016,  How to Improve Architectural Education: Learning (and Unlearning) From the Beaux Arts Method, published in Archdaily, full article available here 

More information on the Beaux Arts available here 

Image available here

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