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The Built Environment

Cal Poly Architecture and Landscape Architecture Programs Earn High Rankings in 2019-20 DesignIntelligence National Survey

A man in a pink shirt, a woman in a grey shirt and a man in a green shirt inspect a structural model in a busy-looking architecture lab.
Written By Ray Ladd

Three Cal Poly Faculty Members from Both Programs Named Most Admired Educators


Cal Poly’s landscape architecture and architecture programs have been ranked No. 1 in a national survey of the country’s top-ranked architecture and design schools.

The university’s landscape architecture program is the No. 1 most hired-from program among all accredited undergraduate and graduate schools with more than 35 graduates, according to the 2019-20 DesignIntelligence rankings. Cal Poly’s undergraduate architecture program continues to be ranked the No. 1 most hired-from school among public universities in the U.S. that average more than 100 architecture graduates each year.

Two young women help carry large round structures up a walkway as part of the Design Village Competition

“We take great pride in Cal Poly’s architecture and landscape architecture programs and the success of our graduates as they begin their careers,” said Christine Theodoropoulos, dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). “This recognition by DesignIntelligence placing us among the top schools in the nation reflects the high quality of professional education we achieve through the power of Learn by Doing.”

In addition, three CAED faculty members were named among the nation’s most admired educators. Thomas Fowler, professor in the Architecture Department; Omar Faruque, head of the Landscape Architecture Department; and David Watts, associate professor in the Landscape Architecture Department, were honored for excellence in environmental design education and as outstanding professors in their fields. They are selected by DesignIntelligence staff with input from thousands of design professionals, academic department heads and students.

“The joy of working with colleagues and students never gets old,” said Fowler, who has taught for more than 30 years, including 26 years at Cal Poly. “The students — who in many ways have become my teachers — have shared the love of the creative building design process and the reflective insights that come from a range of unconventional disciplinary approaches to problem solving. My teaching reward is that many of my former students have become successful practitioners, and they continue to inspire me.”

DesignIntelligence, which has conducted its annual survey since 1999, is the only national college ranking survey that focuses exclusively on design. Data for the 20th annual survey was gathered from more than 123 design schools and 9,000 design practitioners who hire and supervise graduates of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design programs. In addition, more than 6,000 students participated.

One part of the survey focuses on how recent graduates are performing in 12 key focus areas such as design theory and practice, design technology, and communication skills.


Three landscape architecture students collaborate over a light table

Cal Poly’s landscape architecture program was ranked No. 1 in six of the focus areas, including construction materials and methods, engineering fundamentals, healthy built environments, practice management, sustainable built environments/adaptative and resilient design, and transdisciplinary collaboration across architecture, engineering and construction. The program placed in the top three in nine of the undergraduate design education focus areas.

The architecture program was identified as best in the nation for two of the undergraduate design education focus areas: construction materials and methods, and engineering fundamentals. The program placed in the top three in 10 of the focus areas.