Architecture students experience Italy

Urban Planning professor Jaime Correa and Lek Jani point at the detail of Rationalist architecture in Rome. Giorgio Antoniazzi//The Miami Hurricane
Urban Planning professor Jaime Correa and Lek Jani point at the detail of Rationalist architecture in Rome. Giorgio Antoniazzi//The Miami Hurricane

For the University of Miami School of architecture’s fourth and fifth-year students, the opportunity to experience the ancient, baroque and modern architectural wonders of Italy is just a semester away.

Every year, several UM architecture students are sent to study in the heart of what was once one of the world’s biggest empires, Rome.

“We have a year-long presence in Rome,” said professor Carmen Guerrero, director of the university’s Rome program. “We have a semester-long program that runs every fall and spring with a different group of students.”

Guerrero said undergraduates who participate in the fall or spring have to apply. She said selection is based on a student’s portfolio, grade point average and a written statement.

John Scott, a third year architecture student expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of being selected for the program.

“I am excited. I just applied to the Rome program for the fall semester,” Scott said. “The application was easy, you submit a 12-page portfolio and an essay which describes your intent for going.”

The Rome program is the most well-known study abroad program in the School of Architecture.

The University of Miami established a new Rome Center two years ago. The facility, which is located near the Vatican, is owned and run by the university, and allows for students and faculty to experience Rome first-hand.

“We have key faculty members who are experts in Italian architecture, and we here at the school have developed a program that focuses on different areas of Italian culture, history and architecture,” Guerrero said.

In the study abroad program, architecture students are taught new design and drawing techniques. Students also work on local projects in Rome.

This year the students will submit designs and ideas to help rebuild Rome’s neglected waterfront district. By incorporating theory and design with first-hand experiences, students return to Miami with a practical understanding of Italian culture and architecture.

In addition to the Rome program, the school of architecture offers an extensive variety of other study-abroad programs. The different programs range from studying Spanish architecture in South America to exploring Islamic architecture in Egypt. For UM architecture students, there is as travel abroad program for everyone.

Ben Kweller, a graduate student in the architecture school, said his study abroad program took him to Scandinavia.

“This past summer I was in the Open City program which goes to Stockholm for four and a half weeks. It really engaged us in the city culture, and we worked on different architecture studies,” he said.

Kweller and others who participate in the study abroad programs say that more of their classes should focus on practical first-hand experiences.

“Basically everywhere you go you can experience different things and you can expand your architectural repertoire,” Kweller said.

According to Guerrero, the University of Miami’s School of Architecture study abroad programs help  to better prepare the next generation of architects, faculty and students.

“As an architect, travel is critical,” Guerrero said. “Architecture is an expression of culture and history, thereby travel becomes important to equip an architect.”

Grier Clark may be contacted at

Rome Program info:

The School of Architecture is still accepting application for the Fall 2011 Rome Program. Visit for more information.