More than 900 seek spots at architecture school

Aspiring architects are still hiding out in Rudolph Hall until the economy rebounds, judging by this year’s admissions statistics.

This year, between 900 and 1,000 students applied for the approximately 50 spots available next fall. The Yale School of Architecture has seen a slight dip in applications this year compared to last, but Associate Dean John Jacobson ARC ’70 said the numbers are still as high as they were in 2009. Last year, more than 1,000 students applied, and 65 were given places.

“If we had 65 seats this year, I would have to give up my office,” Dean of the School of Architecture Robert A. M. Stern ARC ’65 said. “Last year, we were swamped with brilliant candidates, which is a nice place to be. But this building has a fixed amount of space and we provide a high level of facilities for our students.”

Stern and Jacobson attributed the 2010 banner year to the recession. Since few jobs were available, many people thought it would be worthwhile to go back to school and pursue graduate work instead of entering the job market, five architecture students said.

Owen Howlett ARC ’13, who applied for the architecture program after working in the Netherlands on a Fulbright Scholarship, said he thinks his class seems particularly “young.”

“I think it’s probably because more people were likely to apply right out of school,” Howlett said. “It seemed prudent to apply because there weren’t that many jobs out there. And even if you could find a job, it wouldn’t necessarily be work you found compelling.

The day after Vincent Calabro ARC ’12 left his architecture firm in July of 2009, the company laid off 14 other people, he said. Though they have since hired some people back, Calabro said he is glad to have the security of being in school.

Stories like his are commonplace among the newest crop of architecture students.

“I think everyone went into panic mode and decided a three year commitment to school wasn’t such a bad idea,” J. T. Bachman ARC ’12 said.

For the newest class, the decision to apply to schools, rather than entering the working world, delays what can often be a harrowing search.

Talia Handler ARC ’13, who applied to the school and was accepted directly out of college, said she has friends who went out and couldn’t find work for months.

“One friend literally ended up at Starbucks. Now he’s at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, but he spent close to a year living in his parents’ basement looking for a job,” she said.

Brandon Hall ARC ’13, who also applied and was accepted directly out of college, said he watched other architecture students struggle to find positions after graduating and suffer financially. If he had not seen their difficulties, he might have taken a year off to work before continuing to grad school, he said.

Decisions are traditionally mailed by April 1, Jacobson said.

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