Past Programs

“Study abroad has made me appreciate the vast differences in culture and people in various parts of the world and see things from a new and enlightened perspective, making my world vastly expanded and enriched.” 
- Maddie Kiebel, graphic design student, Rome 2016

Based in Palazzo Cenci-Bolognetti, the 2016 Rome Program was led by School of Architecture faculty Jeffrey Balmer, Chris Beorkrem, and Eric Sauda in collaboration with Department of Art & Art History faculty Aspen Hochhalter, Megan Hall, and Jim Frakes. Forty-four students traveled to Rome, where they studied the art, architecture, and urban fabric of the Eternal City. The program included a three-night field trip to Vicenza, Verona, and Venice.

The Master of Urban Design’s global urbanism program completed three summer workshops in Rio, which included four weeks of travel in and around Rio de Janeiro. Led by Associate Director of the SoA Jose Gamez, 13 UNC Charlotte students joined students from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro architecture and urbanism program, directed by Dr. Maria Fernanda Lemos. Together they examined a range of development and growth issues in an area known as Barra da Tijuca, which is home to the 2016 Olympic Park.

During the study tour in Rio, the students visited a range of important sites, including the Santa Marta and Vidigal favelas, the redeveloping waterfront, and the city’s legendary beachfront neighborhoods, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. Students also took a weekend field trip to Paraty, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved colonial town fabric.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture Jeffrey Nesbit led six undergraduate architecture students in the Seoul Studio, housed in an architect's office in the district of Seongdong on the north bank of the Han River, the site of their urban research. Seoul Studio explored questions concerning the rise of capital development, using public architecture as the focus for evaluation. After being nearly destroyed during the Korean War, Seoul has become a vibrant international city, with projects by leading international architects such as Daniel Libeskind, Mario Botta, and Zaha Hadid built alongside structures by contemporary Korean architects..

Led by Profs. Jeff Balmer, Chris Beorkrem, Eric Sauda, Jim Frakes, and Aspen Hochhalter

"Yes, I have finally arrived to this Capital of the World! I now see all the dreams of my youth coming to life... Only in Rome is it possible to understand Rome." – Goethe

ROME 2014: Surveying the City comprised five weeks based in the historic center of Rome. As with our previous program in the Eternal City, ROME 2014 provided a collaborative effort between the School of Architecture and the Department of Art & Art History. For 2014, we added to this disciplinary mix our ongoing project, VAIROMA, in collaboration with the UNC Charlotte VIsCenter research team, headed up by Chair Bill Ribarsky. Students engaged with one of the most culturally resonant urban environments in the world, learning from this city, examining it directly while immersed in daily on-site lectures, and observing, drawing & encountering Rome at close range, over a sustained period of time.  Students benefit directly from the knowledge and experience of faculty who have taught in Rome for over two decades, as well as world-reknown guest lecturers.

[May-June, 2013]
Led by Profs. Bryan and Jen Shields

This unique four-week, six-credit travel program in May-June 2013 was led by Professors Bryan and Jen Shields, focusing on four waterfront cities. The group began in Copenhagen, traveling by ferry along the Swedish coast to Oslo, experiencing the fjords of Norway, followed by train to Stockholm, and finally crossing the Baltic by ferry to Helsinki, Finland. Students visited projects by Alvar Aalto, Sigurd Lewerentz, Eero Saarinen, Juhani Pallasmaa, BIG, Snohetta, among many others. "[We surveyed] issues of place and multi-sensory experience at every scale, from the scale of the city in the complexity of its natural geography, to the scale of a light fixture or door pull, so thoughtfully considered by Scandinavian architects."

[May 19-June 23, 2012]
Led by Profs. Emily Makas, Jeff Balmer, and Jeff Murphy

In the past two centuries Central Europe has experienced rapid and dramatic political changes and the region's art, architecture, and cities both bear witness to and attempt to respond to this complicated and troubled history and its legacies. By exploring six countries, students learned about the parallels among them and the differences between their artistic, architectural, and urban experiences with imperialism, historicism, nationalism, fascism, communism, and democracy.

Students and faculty spent the majority of the trip in six key cities: Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague, and Berlin; the last two weeks of the trip were spent in Berlin. The group traveled by chartered bus which gave them more control over scheduling and was more comfortable and secure, enabling the professors to easily show films, give lectures, and meet with students while in transit as well as to take daytrips and to stop and see other sites and cities along the way. The day trips and rest stops included Dachau, Nuremburg, Salzburg, Mauthausen, Bratislava, Martin, Aushwitz-Birkenau, Brno, Terezin, and Dresden.

The trip was led by two faculty members from the School of Architecture and one from the Department of Art and Art History. Four different classes were offered; all participating students took one class in common about the history of Central European Cities. The other classes offered included drawing, digital photography, or a second history class on Jewish Heritage in Central Europe.


2012 CHINA
[May 14-June 18, 2012]
Led by Profs. Zhongjie Lin and Jason Slatinsky
In the past three decades, China has undergone dramatic urban transformation under the country’s rapid economic growth and massive urbanization. Chinese cities continued to expand and develop in a high-density urban pattern, resulting in dynamic urban landscapes often characterized by a juxtaposition of Corbusian skyscraper cities and labyrinthine traditional neighborhoods. In historic cities like Beijing and Suzhou, the legacies of classical urbanism maintain their influence. In the meantime, numerous new towns have been created across the country to house the swelling population and sustain economic growth. All these phenomena make China an unparalleled place to mine new knowledge of urban design and architecture.

The Master of Urban Design 2012 China Program was an international study program for Master of Urban Design (MUD) students at UNC Charlotte. In this five-week program, faculty and students traveled to Shanghai, Suzhou, and Beijing, as well as numerous historic towns and new towns around these metropolises. A three-credit design studio session and a three-credit seminar were offered. Students not only visited many historic sites, cutting-edge new developments, and international design firms, but also had opportunities to work together with faculty and students of leading universities in China.

"Figure and Ground on the Iberian Peninsula"
[May 19-June 14, 2011]
Led by Prof. Greg Snyder
For the past thirty years Spain and Portugal have been at the center of the critical discourse within contemporary architecture. The design culture that exists within these two countries today has been conditioned by a broad array of unique social, historical, political, and cultural factors that have accumulated over time.

Extraordinary quality in design exists at the scale of the building and at the scale of the city. From the Barcelona Olympics to the 1998 Lisbon Expo, to name two instances of several, there has been a particularly effective use of architecture in service of the strategic development of the city and an enriched urban life.

As the cities of the Iberian Peninsula have evolved, the quality of life, as it might be measured by food, art, and life in the streets, has intensified: the significant legacies of both cultures have been enhanced. Architects have a special place in these two cultures.

The course was organized around the seven cities that were be the focus of study. A set of lectures were delivered during the Spring semester focusing on: 1) The City: Urban Development in Barcelona, San Sebastian and Bilbao; 2) Great Buildings and Their Contexts; 3) Funerary Architecture: Tombs, Markers and Cities of the Dead; 4) Food, Art, and the Culture of the Everyday in Spain and Portugal.  Those lectures served to focus the student's experience during the travel with a specific aim to note and examine the inter-relationship between culture and design at multiple scales.


"Precision and Experimentation"
[May 16-June 9, 2011]
Led by Prof. Thomas Forget
Switzerland is an enigma. Precision and rational construction are the hallmarks of its culture. From watchmaking to architecture and urban planning, the Swiss consider craft and beauty as inseparable qualities.

At the same time, Switzerland is the birthplace of DADA, which epitomized irrationality and chance. Throughout the period between the Wars, Zurich maintained an avant-garde culture that was among the most influential in Europe. This duality in Swiss culture between precision and experimentation framed this summer program.

Today, Switzerland is a leading generator of global architecture-culture, and to make sense of its built environment is to better understand the current generation of architectural builders and thinkers. The obscure early work of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier) is as relevant to this inquiry as the ubiquitous work of contemporary firms.

A primary influence on all of this work is the ever-present force of nature, which is itself a laboratory that excels in precision and experimentation. The built environment of Switzerland is inconceivable without its stunning natural setting. Nature imposes limits and presents opportunities, and the Swiss engage in a unique dialogue with it.

2010 ROME
[May-June, 2010]
Led by Profs. Jeff Balmer, Chris Beorkrem, Jim Frakes, Aspen Hochhalter
“ROMAMOR” was a multi-disciplinary study abroad program which sought to foster enhanced opportunities for both faculty and students within the College of Arts & Architecture.  Four faculty, two from Architecture, and two from Art & Art History, taught concurrently over a four week period, drawing students from both their own departments, and from further afield.  Each faculty member taught one of four 3-credit courses relevant to his or her research interests and expertise – architectural history, drawing and digital media, art and architectural history, and digital photography - drawing upon the transcendent cultural and historical milieu that is Rome.

“ROMAQUA: Architectural History” aimed to explore the history of the city of Rome and environs through the element of water. A series of 14 on-site lectures (or ‘drops’) focused on various manifestations of the central role of water in the urban development of ancient Rome, both as a necessity for survival, and as an expression of the magnificence of the Imperial city.

“ROMAQUA: Drawing & Digital Media” looked at the rich and complexly layered urban fabric of Rome that constitutes an immense and splendid palimpsest, the result of millennia of construction, destruction, adaptation, and re-inhabitation. The course sought to explore some of the emerging technologies of digital modeling and fabrication and to understand how they might lead to possibilities for fabrication and ornament as yet unexamined.

“Ancient Rome: The City as History, the City as Memory” reviewed the ancient city of Rome, the administrative heart of an ever-expanding empire and an important symbolic center throughout the centuries of its dominance, examining the city of Rome in its capacity to shape and preserve historical memory.  Also considered were the practices of archaeological interpretation, complicating the analysis of what ancient Romans believed with questions about how we come to know what we think we know.  Many of the discussions took place on location, such as in the Forum Augustum, the Pantheon and the Baths of Caracalla.

“The Image of Rome” sought encouraged students to become immersed in the rhythm and texture of daily life and discover, through personal image making, the living city of Rome that has been physically shaped and visually framed by its history. Their explorations were meant to help them develop an individualized map of the city and their experiences—a visual diary of their Roman life–while also developing their vision and skills in the digital darkroom.