Belle Beaux-Arts Academy

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The demand for education in classical art and architecture is growing faster than the need can be accommodated. That is good news. Better news would be the growth of existing schools of design where classical beauty is taught, and the addition of new schools and departments – such as the new classical program at the College of Architecture and Planning at Colorado University Denver. This past weekend I spent time at the excellent American College of Building Arts, in Charleston, S.C., where traditional crafts, emphasizing methods and practice, are taught. Today I want to spread word of the Beaux-Arts Academy, in Salt Lake City.

mbrFM_V4_400x400Like its Paris namesake and model, l’Academie des Beaux-Arts founded in 1671, the school in Utah offers two intermingling curricula, one in art that lasts four years and one in architecture and design, which covers a year, leading in most cases to graduate programs at other architecture schools, such as Notre Dame. Both curricula emphasize practice, theory and history. They hark back to the long era when architecture was the mother of the arts, when much of artists’ work consisted of embellishing the work of architects, and architects built in ways calculated to embellish the civic realm, creating great cities.

Plop art in plazas that exist only to grant extra floors to buildings that are already too tall for their own good – this is still, alas, the rule. Let RISD and places like that fill that “void.” Although in fact places like RISD are supposedly beginning to re-emphasize craft and beauty in art – which are still verboten in their departments of architecture.

So the Academy of the Beaux-Arts seeks to feed young people, and older professionals hoping to grasp the rising star, into an architecture conceived as the mother of arts. I am continually astonished when I see work produced by students of classical art and craft. It is so much easier to detect talent in them than in students in conventional academic art and craft curricula, not to mention those in architecture programs, who are taught to produce work from which any concept of beauty is purged – as if beauty were not itself a beloved form of novelty, novelty based on tradition handed up by past masters.

Amazingly, a year of tuition, covering two semesters at the BAA, is only $8,000, though the extra cost of two weeks required study in Rome and Florence brings the total in the architecture school per year to $16,000 – still remarkably inexpensive. I can’t speak of art schools, but keep in mind that unlike grads of conventional architecture schools, architecture grads at Notre Dame and other traditional programs are chased up hill and down dale by employers because the abilities taught are so much more practical than the ones taught elsewhere.

Beam me up, Scotty! Oh, that’s right, I’m too old to be a student. Or am I?!

The promotional material of the BAA was obviously crafted by someone with a beautiful sensibility. In addition to its persuasiveness, it is a joy to read and view. Likewise the video created by the school to charm potential students into attending. Enjoy! Attend!

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About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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3 Responses to Belle Beaux-Arts Academy

  1. “the growth of existing schools of design”….put Mississippi State University on your list! MSU school of architecture just had its first classical workshop in connection with ICAA.

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  2. JoDee says:

    I love the concept of Beaux-Arts Academy where art and architecture are taught together. Architects study art so their buildings can be beautiful and artists study architecture so their paintings of buildings will have accurate proportion. You can be a seasoned architect or just beginning your love of architecture, and that method can only improve what is happening in contemporary architecture today. Thank you David Brussat for your understanding that architects, who are artists, can improve both the modern and the classical buildings being designed today.

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  3. steve bass says:

    Nice review of the BAA – I’m also a fan. Even when I taught in the program when it was in NYC it raised my game just to keep up with the students.

    Like

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