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About Us

Clemson University has taught architecture for over a century. Today, the School of Architecture is meeting 21st century challenges through pedagogical and technological advances, to provide design leadership in an expanding global environment. The School is part of a College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities along with the departments of Planning and Landscape Architecture, Art, Performing Arts, Construction Science, Philosophy and Religion, Languages, English, and History.

The School offers a four-year Bachelor of Arts in Architecture degree and a Master of Architecture degree with enrollments of approximately 275 students and 115 students respectively. The M.S. in Architecture and the Ph.D. in Planning, Design and the Built Environment are offered as post-professional research degrees. The graduate program has a specialized option in Architecture and Health that is one of only two such programs in the country. The School's Fluid Campus, where students and faculty work in a variety of diverse physical, political and cultural settings, offers a uniquely rich global education. Students and professors regularly receive national recognition through numerous national and international awards including four straight years of a top 20 ranking by Design Intelligence Magazine.

The School of Architecture aims to be a premier producer of transformational architectural leadership, shaping the environment of the 21st century for a better future. Clemson's School of Architecture is an interconnected, geographically distributed community of teachers and learners, dedicated to:

  • Educating future architects, through rigorous and expansive design education, with local and global understandings of firmness, commodity and delight;
  • Generating knowledge to address the great challenges of the time, like health care, ecology, and an increasingly digital society, through innovative, interdisciplinary research, practice and scholarship;
  • Advocating for the improvement of built, natural and social environments, through design activism, public service and public education.

A Brief History of Architecture at Clemson

Since its first year of instruction in 1913, architectural education at Clemson has been mindful of its geographies - its connections and relationships to both the state of South Carolina and to the wider world.

Rudolph Lee

Already looking beyond borders, Rudolph Lee (1874-1959) established architectural education at Clemson to answer "an increasing demand in the South for men trained in architectural design, building construction and allied subjects."  Like this mission, Lee had Southern Roots.  Born in nearby Anderson, SC, he was an engineering graduate of Clemson's first class of 1896.  However, studies also took him to Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania.  The combination of polytechnic and Beaux-Arts training and awareness of national developments in architectural education informed the development of degree programs and faculty hires during Lee's tenure, which spanned from 1896 to 1948.  During these years, faculty were trained at Clemson and Northeast schools, like Lee, and also in Europe.  Similar to Lee's description of his new engineering building (not Riggs Hall) in 1927, architecture at Clemson was primarily a "Southern product, largely of our own state materials."

However, the materials came together to create a building with global reach:  The building's inspirations, Lee noted, were "the villas of Rome and Florence, of sunny Italy."

Riggs would be home for the Department of Architecture from 1933 until the opening of Lee Hall in 1958.  Representing grown and disciplinary independence, the new building coincided with the establishment of the School of Architecture.  Designed by Harlan McClure, who served as director and dean from 1955 to 1984, Lee Hall symbolized the modernization of the school, the college and the state.  The move from Beaux-Arts Riggs Hall to modernist Lee Hall - a shift, in retrospect, from one international style to another - did not change the school's geographic networks.

Harlan McClure

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Harlan McClure (1916 - 2001) had Southern roots and a broad intellectual horizon.  With degrees from George Washington University and MIT, McClure studied at the Royal Swedish Academy and taught at the Architectural Association in London before leaving the University of Minnesota for Clemson.  As dean, he hired faculty educated at Clemson, across the U.S. and overseas.  His creation of the Clemson Architectural Foundation advanced the similar mission of bringing distinguished thinkers to the school from around the world.  In 1972, McClure would take the decisive step of establishing the Daniel Center ("the Villa") in Genoa, Italy, the first satellite of the school's "Fluid Campus".

The decades following McClure's direction have seen the continued growth of the school, in Clemson and beyond, under new leadership.  The Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston, celebrating its 25th year, was established in 1988 by then-Dean James F. Barker, FAIA ('70). A decade later, department chair Jose Caban ('67) established the school's third urban center in Barcelona.  Forty(+) years since the first groups of students occupied the Villa, thousands more have expanded their Clemson roots through the global reach of the Fluid Campus.

Today a geographically diverse faculty and student body study architecture in great works of architecture, including the new and award-winning Lee III, on four fluidly connected campuses.  As its faculty, students and buildings have in the past, Clemson's School of Architecture draws in and reaches out to distant horizons from Southern roots.


100 Years of Clemson Architecture

Explore more of Clemson Architecture's rich history in the book 100 Years of Clemson Architecture: Southern Roots + Global Reach edited by Peter Laurence, PhD.


Clemson University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the Bachelor's, Master's, Education Specialist, and Doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call at 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Clemson University.