I have always had a keen interest in architecture since taking several courses in elementary and high school. I applied to a number of universities for architecture and ultimately chose UBC because of its proximity to home.
During my time at UBC, I spoke to many advisors about pursuing a career/education in architecture and design. They recommended taking a combination of visual arts, history and geography, but it was not until I started snooping around the UBC Architecture website that I found out there was an undergraduate degree being offered called Environmental Design.
I went to the final reviews, which is a public showcase of the current student projects held at the end of every semester.
In preparation for my application to the Environmental Design Program (ENDS), I went to the final reviews, which is a public showcase of the current students’ projects held at the end of every semester. I looked at the work that was produced and listened to a few of their presentations. It gave me a very good idea of what the program might be like and what kind of design projects students would be given.
The summer prior to starting ENDS, I also took part in a 6-week Study in architecture in New York.
Environmental Design Program Overview
The program is two years long; you apply during your sophomore (2nd) year. There are four terms in total and each term you take three to four classes and one studio. Of those classes, one is usually an elective. So if you have taken more electives than needed in previous years, you can take fewer classes in the following term(s).
Each term is centered around studio. The accompanying required classes are meant to compliment the studio’s theme. Each term’s topic is as follows: Landscape, Constructions, Institutions and Settlements. For example, during your Landscape Studio term, you will also take a Landscape History class. This way, you can take aspects from your other classes and incorporate them into your on-going design projects in studio.
The class size is approximately 25 students per year, with a total of 50 students in the program. Each class has its own studio equipped with a modest kitchen. Students have access to plotters located upstairs as well as a laser cutter in the neighboring landscape architecture building (however, it is important to note that ENDS students are not always given priority to the laser cutter). Cost of materials and printing is not included in tuition; the costs are usually slightly higher than the average cost of textbooks for a university course.
ENDS values diversity and eclecticism, therefore the environment that its students are exposed to contributes greatly to our developing perspective as a designer.
One of the most special aspects of this program is the people and the experiences that a studio environment will put you through. ENDS values diversity and eclecticism, therefore the environment that its students are exposed to contributes greatly to our developing perspective as a designer.
One such skill ENDS reinforces is public speaking. For every design studio you are required to present your projects to your peers and occasional small panel of professional reviewers. While frightening at first, individuals are a definite at an advantage if they have the ability to articulate their ideas clearly and with confidence; ENDS provides a great environment for students to practice those skills.
ENDS is a program that offers insight into each field associated with environmental design. By the time you graduate you will be relatively familiar with aspects of landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning. Because it emphasizes breadth over depth, one of the drawbacks of ENDS is that it does not concretely prepare you for one of these fields specifically. This can be dually seen as an advantage and disadvantage. Personally, I think if you are to pursue further in any one of these fields, I find the multiple perspectives gained from ENDS invaluable.
In this sense, ENDS definitely met my expectations and then some.
I was not entirely sure what to expect from UBC, but I expected to learn and practice design and learn about different design processes from the Environmental Design Program. In this sense, ENDS definitely met my expectations and then some.
I would recommend this program for those who are interested in or curious about a career path in architecture, landscape architecture or urban planning. Something to keep in mind is that this program demands more commitment than the average undergraduate program—this is to say that you will be spending quite a bit of quality time at school with your studio mates.
I chose to immediately pursue my Graduate Degree as soon as I finished ENDS, but a number of graduates found jobs soon if not immediately after graduation. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Architecture in the US. This summer I am interning at a Landscape, Architecture and, Urban Planning firm in Beijing.
There are definitely aspects of my education that are manifesting themselves very obviously in my work. The dialogue around design is something ENDS has given me a solid foundation in. It is becoming increasingly more obvious how advantageous it is to be able to speak in not only architectural terms, but also in landscape and urban planning terms.