College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Dean’s Corner: November 2021


Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,

During October, I had the good fortune and privilege to visit the School of Architecture Fluid Campus™ locations in Genoa and Barcelona. What an amazing opportunity for our students, and what a treat for me to be able to do this in the middle of a semester.

We had to pause both programs during the height of COVID-19. Brilliantly, the team in Genoa used the time to engage in a full-scale renovation of the Villa, formally called The Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies. The 19th-century building is nestled in the middle of the large hill that rises quite steeply from the historic and famous harbor of Genoa. The view of the Mediterranean from the Villa’s terrace is jaw-dropping.

The view from the Villa’s terrace allows students to draw inspiration from Genoa’s centuries-old architecture and from the Mediterranean Sea. Photo courtesy of Giovanni De Sandre.

The upper floor of the building is large enough to house the 15-20 mostly undergraduate students who go there for one semester at the end of their junior or beginning of their senior year. The main floor is used for workspace and includes rooms with worktables, the library, as well as a seminar room for classwork and reviews. The basement has the large kitchen and dining area. Christina, the cook, is there every weekday making lunch and dinner for the students. Yummy!

Students, Dean Vazsonyi (left), and architects including Mark Carroll (foreground) attend a review at the Villa. Photo courtesy of Giovanni De Sandre.

It’s a family home away from home, brilliantly managed and run by Silvia Siboldi. One of the days I was there, the students presented their work in progress at a review with feedback from the famous architect Mark Carroll, who happens to be Silvia’s husband, and three other Genoa architects–Giuditta Poletti, Luca Rocco and Danilo Vespier–who are teaching our students. The next morning, we went on a field trip to the studios of Renzo Piano, just outside Genoa. Piano is the architect of some of the most iconic buildings of the last half century around the world.

I couldn’t imagine anything competing with the setup we have in Genoa. But our Barcelona program is spectacular in its own right. There is no villa. Students live in a dorm facility and then walk through the city to the Barcelona Architecture Center (BAC) where they have their classes and work on their projects.

Conversing with students in the Barcelona Architecture Center was a highlight of the trip.

The building is a former bank, complete with impenetrable safe, that has been converted into an ideal workspace for architecture students. It is centrally located in the heart of this eminently walkable and architecturally rich and diverse city. Barcelona contains remnants of Roman buildings, experimental modernist architecture, and everything in between. In many instances, the buildings the students study are literally around the corner. Antoni Gaudi’s awe-inspiring La Sagrada Familia is a 10-minute walk away from the BAC.

The program is run by the eminent Barcelona architect, Miguel Roldán, administrative coordinator, Zana Bosnic, and a team of top-notch instructors and guest lecturers. The space is also shared by students from Texas A&M, many of whom have historically ended up coming to Clemson for their graduate degree. So, Barcelona provides an opportunity for our students not only to get fully immersed in the ebb and flow of navigating a world class city, but also widening their network amongst the future generation of architects.

Clemson students celebrated their arrival in Barcelona with an attempt to learn the traditional Catalonian dance, Sardana, in the Cathedral square.

Why do we use a special trademarked name to describe the Genoa, Barcelona and Charleston programs. Because this is not “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. Our Fluid Campus™ system is precisely not something separate, but a carefully calibrated comprehensive learning experience that is integral to the architecture program at Clemson.

And it is being run magnificently.

“Go Tigers!”

Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

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