Off-Campus – University of Kentucky College of Design

Education Abroad

With nearly 50% of College of Design students participating in an education abroad experience, international programming plays a large role in the comprehensive education of students in architecture, historic preservation and interiors. In fact, the College of Design has the most students on the University of Kentucky campus who graduate with an education abroad experience.

With annual opportunities in such locations as Berlin, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and more, students gain a global perspective in their design thinking, allowing them to solve design challenges with a broader outlook.

Education Abroad
Education Abroad in Berlin, Germany

Education Abroad in Berlin, Germany.

The Field School

In summer 2017, students in the College of Design wrapped up some of the first research collected on a mid-century neighborhood as part of the nation’s first hybrid Field School in Historic Preservation.

UK Department of Historic Preservation’s HP 676: Field Methods in Heritage Conservation is designed to provide online students the opportunity to enhance their studies in a course offering a hands-on experience documenting and interpreting the geographical, architectural, socio-cultural, economic and historical aspects of a regional neighborhood.

The Field School, part of an online 12-hour graduate certificate available in Historic Preservation at UK, gives its students an opportunity to apply their lessons in a real-world scenario, and is the first hybrid field school in the country offered as part of an online course.

Studio Louisville

In partnership with the City of Louisville and Portland Investment Initiative (Pii), the College of Design at the University of Kentucky hosts a satellite design studio in West Louisville, which began in the Fall 2017 semester.

After meeting with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Pii founder Gill Holland in spring 2016, Dean Mitzi Vernon set the wheels in motion for the inaugural studio away experience that immerses UK’s School of Architecture students in a targeted yet underdeveloped community. Having this in situ perspective allows students to physically work in the environment while engaging with the residents, community organizations and other key groups to address the needs of the area.

Thanks to the College of Design’s Brown-Forman Visiting Chair Endowment, the studio is able to sponsor a keynote figure for each year. In its inaugural year, Jeanne Gang and her office, Studio Gang, was named the recipient.

Led by Associate Professor David Biagi, Studio Louisville is only the first iteration of the “pop-up studio” approach. Future plans include migration to additional cities with a need for community transformation.

Studio Louisville
Aerial view of the Portland neighborhood in West Louisville

Aerial view of the Portland neighborhood in West Louisville.

Design Build

The College of Design extends an immersive approach to students, providing hands-on opportunities to see a project from its initial design phase all the way to the final build. In past studios, students have been able to design, build and fabricate installations for: Moontower, a Lexington music festival; Exhibit Columbus, which celebrates the modern architecture in Columbus, Ind.; and Connect, an art and science event at Bernheim Arboretum in Clermont, Ky.

These are just a few examples of projects students have literally had their hands in designing, which develops their design skills that much further.

Students building a structure for the 2017 Moontower Festival in Lexington

Students building a structure for the 2017 Moontower Festival in Lexington. Photo by Mark Cornelison/ UKphoto.

Humanitarian Architecture

A call to help rebuild and renovate a Haitian orphanage that was severely damaged by a 2010 earthquake evolved into a project driven by a passion for humanitarian architecture in Professor Bruce Swetnam’s Spring and Fall 2017 studios.

Students from Swetnam’s studios made their first trip to Port-au-Prince in April 2017 to experience firsthand the needs of the girls in the orphanage. A Big Blue Crowdfunding project was created to raise funds for travel expenses and building materials, and students made a second trip in the fall of 2017 to begin renovations, starting with a playground on the orphanage site.

Humanitarian Architecture
Students in Bruce Swetnam's Haiti studio work on a playground structure for the Chez Moi orphanage in Port-au-Prince

Students in Bruce Swetnam’s Haiti studio work on a playground structure for the Chez Moi orphanage in Port-au-Prince.

Architecture Practice Preview

Architecture students have the opportunity to work at design firms over spring break each year. These programs place students in firms for 1-2 weeks to garner professional experience, develop professional networks, and contribute to the firms’ projects. The firms range from large, multi-national corporate offices to small, boutique design practices offering a variety of experiences in cities across the United States and sometimes the world.

The programs provide a conduit for students to engage in a variety of collaborative, design-related assignments including executing research, attending staff or client meetings, making site visits, producing drawings and models, selecting materials and/or products. These tasks extend the students’ educational opportunities beyond the classroom and expose them to possible career paths.

Participating Architecture Firms (varies by year)

Barkow Leibinger, Berlin
Bernard Tschumi, New York
Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles
Bureau Spectacular, Los Angeles
Studio Libeskind, New York
Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, New York
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans
Future Cities Lab, San Francisco
Griffen Enright, Los Angeles
HWKN, New York
IwamotoScott, San Francisco
Kennedy + Violich, Chicago
LTL, New York
Morphosis Architects, New York + Culver City
NMDA (Neil Denari), Los Angeles
Olson Kundig, Seattle
OMA, New York
Oyler Wu Collaborative, Los Angeles
P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, Los Angeles
RUR (Reiser + Umemeto), New York
Snohetta, New York + Oslo
SO-IL, New York
Studio Gang, Chicago
SHoP, New York
Urban Lab, Chicago

Interiors Externship

As a part of the professional practice sequence, Interiors students have the opportunity to work at design firms over their spring break each year through the unique externship program. The objective of this program is to bridge the gap between formal education and professional practice; the program also offers cultural exposure in new cities over the course of the students’ spring break to better experience the practice of design.

The week-long externship offers students firsthand exposure to the professional workings of design firms. As part of the experience, students participate in client meetings, site visits, product and material selections, and even presentations.


Participating Interior Design Firms (varies by year)

Perkins + Will
Perkins Eastman
Deborah Berke & Partners
FRCH, Design WorldwideCannon Design
Veenendaal Cave Inc.
PDR Design Corp.
Blackline Studio