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We are committed to teaching the practices of creative critical thinking, community engagement, design excellence, ecological resilience, citizenship, leadership/collaboration, exploration, and social equity. We offer our students immersive educational experiences through DesignBuildUTAH, a signature experiential learning program at the School of Architecture. DesignBuildUTAH engages graduate students in design and construction projects, where students apply foundational knowledge obtained in classroom to real-world projects through DesignBuildUTAH@Bluff and DesignUTAH@SLC programs.

DesignBuildUTAH@Bluff offers students an immersive hands-on opportunity to design and build a full-scale work of architecture in collaboration with the Navajo Nation in southeastern Utah, emphasizing sustainability and a respect for the unique social and cultural needs of its remote desert location. The program works in partnership with the Native communities of San Juan County in the Utah Four Corners. Every summer, a graduate studio designs a pre-identified architectural project for a beneficiary of the Navajo Nation in the southern Utah tribal area. These design projects are single-family homes assigned by the local tribal chapters. Students study indigenous architecture and Southwestern vernacular traditional building methods. Students then design the houses, work on construction documentation, and prepare project management documents. During the fall semester, students move more than 300 miles away from the School of Architecture to the remote campus’ home and namesake in Bluff, close to the Navajo Nation’s northernmost chapters. Students spend fall semester converting drawings into habitable space, and gain valuable experience of construction, teamwork, successful project delivery, budget management, and documentation. Over the last two decades, students completed 23 design-build housing projects. The program has won numerous design awards and received national recognition.

DesignUTAH@SLC offers students an intensive experience within an urban setting, focusing on community-engaged projects and collaboration with practice. It starts with a summer semester, followed by a deep dive into a fall design semester. Students have an opportunity to research and apply high performance methods of design and fabrication, aiming to reduce buildings’ operational and embodied energy. Students collaborate and work closely with the local architectural community.  Recent projects include design an outdoor classroom and garden in collaboration with UNP’s Hartland Partnership Center, a mass timber CLT prefabricated affordable housing unit prototype with Giv Communities, a twin-home within Mountainland Community Housing Trusts’ affordable housing development in Heber City, and a tiny-house-on-wheels in collaboration with The Other Side Village, a master-planned neighborhood that provides affordable, permanent housing for people coming out of chronic homelessness.