College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Clemson architecture celebrates 50 years of “The Villa” in Genoa, Italy


The Clemson University College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and Clemson Architectural Foundation is kicking off a year-long celebration of the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies’ 50th anniversary. Best known as “The Villa” to alumni and friends of the School of Architecture, the center was founded in 1973 in Genoa to realize then dean Harlan McClure’s vision for a place for students to be immersed in a historic environment while strengthening real-world design abilities.

As part of the celebration of the Villa’s anniversary, alumni and friends are encouraged to visit the Genoa 50th Anniversary website to submit stories and sketches from their time in Italy.

The Villa provides a unique opportunity for students to live and study in Genoa.  The semester-long engagement in Italian architecture and culture is essential in the education of an architect.

Jim Stevens, Director, Clemson University School of Architecture

“I spent my final semester as the only building construction student among architects at the Villa in the fall of 1978.  It turned out to be a life-altering experience for us all, both professionally and personally,” said Eric Holmberg, president of the Clemson Architectural Foundation, which owns and operates the center in close partnership with the University. “In speaking with more recent alumni, they all acknowledge having similar life-changing experiences in Genoa. We all need to protect and nurture this special, unique abroad study program so that future students can enjoy it for the next fifty years.”

Each semester, the Villa is both home and school to approximately 25 architecture students. While study abroad activities were suspended during 2020 due to the pandemic, the Clemson Architectural Foundation took the opportunity to renovate the historic building, which was built in 1899. Students returned to a beautifully restored facility in Fall 2021.

“The Villa provides a unique opportunity for students to live and study in Genoa.  The semester-long engagement in Italian architecture and culture is essential in the education of an architect,” said Jim Stevens, director of the School Architecture.

The Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies has become the flagship location of the school’s Fluid Campus®, which includes locations in Barcelona, Charleston and Genoa.

“We use a special trademarked name to describe the Genoa, Barcelona and Charleston programs because they are more than ‘study abroad’ in the classical sense of the word, meaning a discrete experience outside of the normal course of study that adds value to the college experience,” said Nicholas Vazsonyi, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “Our Fluid Campus® is precisely not something separate, but a carefully calibrated comprehensive learning experience that is integral to the architecture program at Clemson.”

The School of Architecture and Clemson Architectural Foundation will organize a year-long schedule of events for alumni and friends of the school, culminating in a celebration in Genoa in March of 2023 along with an opportunity to celebrate on Clemson’s campus at a reception in the Lee Gallery on February 24, 2023, followed by an exhibition from February 24-March 10. Updates about events and opportunities for participation will be posted throughout the year on the 50th Anniversary website.

About CAAH

Established in 1996, the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities celebrates a broad and unique combination of disciplines—Architecture; Landscape Architecture; City Planning; Construction Science and Management; Real Estate Development; Visual Arts; Performing Arts; English; History; Languages; Philosophy; Religion; and interdisciplinary studies—that enable Clemson University students to imagine, create and connect. With its expanding network of campuses around the globe, CAAH strives to unite the pursuit of knowledge with the practical application of that knowledge to build a better and more beautiful world.

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