Belmont University announced plans to launch the first Bachelor of Architecture program in Middle Tennessee and only the second in the state. The five-year degree, which will begin classes in Fall 2020, will provide graduates a direct path to pursue licensure in their field while also filling a significant gap for architectural education in Nashville and the surrounding area. Moreover, following Belmont’s 2018 acquisition of the O’More College of Design, the University has the foundation in place to form a world-class program.
“Nashville is one of the hottest places in the country for growth and construction, and yet the region does not offer architecture education,” said Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher. “We are consistently analyzing gaps in the market and seeking to build programs that prepare our graduates for needed careers that will impact communities. I can’t think of a more appropriate, timely or exciting program for Belmont to introduce in Nashville.”
Nashville is currently home to approximately 600 architects, but statistics show the city’s numbers in the profession are trailing other metropolitan areas. Peer cities like Austin and Charlotte employ 1,010 and 1,190 architects respectively, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, while Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Dallas have more than 2,000 positions currently. According to the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, “The greater Nashville region is poised to grow by leaps and bounds over the next couple of decades. Across the 10-county Cumberland Region around Nashville, the MPO forecasts close to another million people by the year 2035.” The region seems ripe for more creative architects who are well-equipped to plan, design and construct homes, businesses, places of worship and so much more.
Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, added, “Belmont’s new architecture program is a perfect pairing for a city on the move like Nashville. Belmont University continues to invest in relevant programs with a great track record for excellence.”
Key occupations that make up the design sector include architects, landscape architects, graphic designers, fashion designers and interior designers. Adding an architecture program to Belmont’s O’More School of Design—which currently offers majors in graphic, fashion and interior design as well as fashion merchandising—rounds out the school’s offerings within the design field. According to Architect Magazine, there is a projected need for approximately 25,000 new architecture positions nationally in the next decade.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns noted, “The seeds for today’s announcement were planted during Belmont’s merger with O’More. The creation of the O’More School of Design at Belmont allowed Belmont to become more fully engaged in Nashville’s design community. Our interior design program serves as the foundation for the conversations about developing a strong, vibrant architectural program. The overlap in courses at the introductory level helps establish new and exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations within this campus’s creative community which will make Belmont, and Nashville, an incredibly attractive place to study architecture.”
Four licensed architects currently teach in Belmont’s Interior Design program, paving the way for seamless expansion with this new degree offering. Architecture students will begin their studies in the O’More School of Design’s renovated space in the Hitch building and will be encouraged to serve and engage with the Nashville community of practicing professionals in architecture firms.
Belmont architecture majors will graduate fully prepared for the required three-year Architectural Experience Program, and their degree will position them to sit for the Architectural Registration Exam. Belmont will be seeking accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the oldest accrediting agency for architectural education in the United States.