College of Design – 38°84° the power of place – 38°84° the power of place
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Architecture impacts your life daily. You experience it in almost everything you do. As the only accredited program in Kentucky, the School of Architecture in the College of Design has, since its inception, strived to not only educate and prepare our students to be the next generation of Architects, but also to inspire them to become the future leaders of the discipline.

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The School of Interiors in the College of Design is a community of scholars comprised of both students and faculty. We fundamentally demonstrate design as a human-centered practice and challenge long-established ideas that a designer only treats the surface of the interior. Instead, we advocate for the study of interiors as a multi-layered, sensory-laden, connective way of experiencing the world.

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Historic Preservation

Historic preservation helps communities negotiate change. The historic preservation program in the College of Design at the University of Kentucky trains students to become skilled practitioners through a combination of classroom instruction and applied projects in urban and rural contexts. A rigorous curriculum, outstanding faculty and an emphasis on community engagement make the program a recognized leader in the field.

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Urban & Environmental Design

As the complexity of design challenges within the built environment grows, so does the need for diverse teams of professionals and community members dedicated to addressing those challenges. An MUED students will gain the skills and knowledge to inspire social, economic and environmental sustainability at multiple scales using innovative principles and techniques for effective community design.

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Product Design

Product design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success, and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services, and experiences. Values, ideals, and aspirations of a culture are expressed through material objects, systems and now digital footprints; these become imperative to understanding our current circumstance and to inventing our future.

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Reynolds Homecoming

In February 2019, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved the design phase for the rehabilitation of the Reynolds Building as the future home for the College of Design. Studio Gang was chosen as the National Architect for the project. Founding principal and MacArthur Fellow, Jeanne Gang, FAIA, Int. FRIBA, brings an impressive span of qualifications to this project.

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Digital Design Literacy Certificate

The College of Design now offers an online undergraduate certificate in Digital Design Literacy. The 12-hour certificate leverages leading-edge technologies and existing online platforms to address the emergent need for digital fluency and design savvy, allowing enrollees to harness the power of design technologies for their professional growth and personal use.

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Design Summer Camp

For seven days over the summer, rising high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates are invited to attend the UK College of Design’s Studio 38°84 — a camp spent exploring the many opportunities for a career in design. Modeled after the College of Design’s undergraduate curriculum, the camp will allow students to work in the fabrication lab, learn hand-drawing and digital techniques and leave at the end of the week with work for their portfolio.

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About the College

While the College of Design at the University of Kentucky was established in 2002, it has a storied history of almost 100 years of study on campus; its foundation in architecture created in the College of Engineering in the 1920s, and later, the residential design program the start of interior design study in the College of Home Economics (now the School of Human Environmental Sciences).

This disorganized start for related disciplines wasn’t uncommon in the early years at land grant institutions but like the world of design today, the areas of study have become much more synthesized as they’ve evolved.

Building on the college’s architectural and residential design roots, students now pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in architecture, interiors and historic preservation (with more programs to come), while learning to develop solutions for real-world problems outside their walls. Dean Mitzi Vernon took over the reins of the college three years ago and is driving it forward after its 50th year on campus.

At the intersection of who we were, who we are and where we’re going is a common denominator: a deliberate focus on design and its impact, rural to urban and local to global. The origin is here, in Lexington, at this place of pedagogy, legacy and invention. Our vision is bold: new programs, new partners, new identity, all infused with Kentucky’s indigenous spirit and its imprint on our unfolding story.


Get to Know Lexington

Why Lexington?

There are those who argue whether Kentucky is in the North or South (mind you, we checked the “neither” box when it came to the Civil War, so it’s hard to call). But it’s really irrelevant at this point because the Bluegrass State has carved out its own niche outside the boundaries of a compass. The place? We are at 38°84°, but who we are is where it gets really interesting.

Many of our attributes precede us: our world-renowned skills at crafting bourbon, our legendary horse farms, and our national championship UK basketball team. But that’s like saying New Orleans has some great jazz, and that’s pretty much it.

There’s a whole culture, a fluid lifestyle that sets the pace here in Lexington. It draws a younger crowd, with the median age in Lexington-Fayette County being 33.9 (compared to the national average of 37.3 years old). But on the flip side, Time magazine ranked the city as one of the top five places to retire.

That’s right, Lexington embraces its inner yin/yang.

Art is a big part of life in Lexington, and supportive endeavors like LexArts and Community Supported Arts (CSA) by the Lexington Art League exist to promote local artists and help share their work. But business is drawn here as well, with Forbes voting Lexington #16 in the 2015 Best Places for Business and Careers.

This is a city with a great deal of complexity for only having around 625,000 residents. But it’s the quality of life here that helps Lexington keep racking up the media nods. While small in stature compared to some other college cities, Lexington offers an urban feel with an easy escape to appease the wanderlust in us all.

CoD Strategic Plan | Vision2021

Strategic Plan Cover

This strategic plan for the UK College of Design sets the expectation that we will deliver on the expanding definition of design, collaborate with and educate our UK companion colleges and set a foundation that positions the College for growth in students, research, funding and reputation.

2016 was a year of prelude to this strategic plan with a focus on a new college identity, complete budget overhaul, and strategic hires. Through this process we are now committed to expanding the foothold of the College of Design within the University of Kentucky campus and beyond.

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