Architecture Dept. set to celebrate 50 years


Photo courtesy of AACC’s AIAS

Members of the American Institute of Architecture Students help build a new career center at Sarah’s House in Fort Meade.

Sarah Sutherland , Campus Life Editor

AACC’s Architecture and Interior Design Department is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The department has one of the oldest two-year programs at AACC. The college established it in 1968 in association with the American Institute of Architects, 50 years ago this spring.

The department originally only offered architecture courses, but in later years added interior design, construction management and landscape architecture, diversifying the program.

“Now we’ve got the various majors, degrees and certificates, so it serves many more of our students,” said Michael Ryan, the chair of the Architecture and Interior Design Department. “Students have the option to explore and decide what [program] is right for them.”

In 2006 and 2017, the Maryland Department of Education named AACC’s Architecture and Interior Design Program the No. 1 post-secondary career and technology program out of all community colleges in Maryland.

Since 2009, the department has won 86 awards, including five nationally.

Ryan said AACC was the first community college in the U.S. to win a national award for its interior design program.
The department’s students have access to specialized computer programs as well as resource rooms with large printers, a laser cutter, fabric swatches and other materials they use for their classes.

“Anything I’ve needed help with, I’ve been able to get help with so far,” second-year interior design major Gabby Robinson said.

The department is also involved within the community, where students, clubs and classes have designed and built projects throughout Anne Arundel County.

The projects include AACC’s West Campus entrance sign, a brick welcome arch in Glen Burnie, a waiting room at the District Court of Maryland in Annapolis and a career center at Sarah’s House, a supportive housing program for homeless families in Anne Arundel County.

“The department has been one of the better programs, I think, at our school, and definitely deserves the recognition,” Michael Mercuri, second-year construction management student and president of AACC’s AIAS chapter, said. “It’s a great program and community.”

In celebration of the anniversary, Ryan said he hopes to host a reunion in spring for former faculty and alumni to showcase the program’s progress and changes over the years.

The department also will host a travel study program to Greece next summer.

The 17-year-old travel study program started with trips to Chicago and now includes destinations throughout Europe.

“[Greece is] symbolic; it’s sort of the foundation of where architecture really began,” Ryan said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the department.”

As the department grows, Ryan said more students are able to explore their interests and goals, some even going on to work for AACC.

“It’s really important for our current students to see … what is possible,” Ryan said. “I’m very proud of where this started, how it’s changed, how it’s redefined itself and the changes that we’ve made in people’s lives.”