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Pre-Architectural Design

Do you get excited about the idea of designing a building? Maybe you want to lay out a vision for something as big as the Empire State Building. Perhaps you enjoy designing homes. Whatever the case may be, we’ll help you grow in the field of pre-architectural design at Dordt. Our program is one of only a few in the area, and we approach the field of architecture from a distinctly Christian perspective.

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Program Overview

Our innovative pre-architecture program prepares students for a master of architecture program and a career as a licensed architect. Whether it’s learning in the classroom or getting off-campus to do hands-on work, the pre-architecture emphasis will help you design the blueprints for your success.

Along with understanding the world of architectural design, you’ll build a portfolio and gain practical experience. Just as important, you’ll explore and develop your God-given artistic gifts and insights.

Students draw while sitting in front of "The Gift" statue

What You'll Learn

This emphasis has classes that are heavily focused on design and engineering. You’ll take classes in environmental and mathematical sciences. Some of your course options include statistics for construction management, design theory, drawing, and chemistry for engineers.

What You Can Do With A Pre-Architectural Design Emphasis

Many students plan to pursue graduate school or begin a career as a licensed architect. Our pre-architectural design program can prepare you for either. If you choose to enter the workforce, you’ll be ready for a job as a landscape architect, an interior designer, and other important careers.

Interior Designer

An Interior Designer uses colors, lighting, and materials to make indoor spaces functional, safe, and decorative.

Project Coordinator

A Project Coordinator manages the administrative tasks that are necessary to keep the project on pace and running smoothly.

Architectural Drafter

An Architectural Drafter designs and illustrates structural features and details for buildings and other construction projects.

Students who choose the pre-architectural emphasis will take various courses from the art, business administration, chemistry, environmental studies, mathematics, physics, construction management, and engineering programs, in addition to completing the general requirements for an art degree. This emphasis provides students a great deal of flexibility when it comes to class choice while still requiring at least three credit hours of lab work and various studio classes.

  • Art History: Ancient and Medieval: This course is the first of a three-semester survey of the history of the visual arts. It investigates the role of the visual arts in the historical and cultural development of world civilization between prehistory and the 14th century.
  • Art History: 14th to 19th Centuries: This course is the second of a three-semester survey of the history of art. It covers the history of architecture, painting, and sculpture from the 14th century through the 19th century.
  • Graphic Design I: An introductory class in the use of the Macintosh computer, covering basic layout software, object-oriented drawing software, and a paint program for scanning, image manipulation, and their use in graphic design. Through assignments that address the functional and experimental aspects of typography, students explore the interaction of form and meaning in typographic design. This course provides an initial exploration of visual communication issues and applications along with design methodology.
  • Graphic Design II: A continuation of Art 240, students apply their growing knowledge of the interaction between typography and visual form to specific design situations. Type/image relationships are important aspects of this course. Typographic syntax and arrangement are stressed. Design methodology, research, the development of a variety of ideas, and print production technology is emphasized.
  • Graphic Design III: A continuation of Art 340, this advanced course presents complex design situations. Students are involved in extended projects such as identity systems with various components including website design, families of package design, utilitarian design or poster designs developed in a series. Students are expected to cultivate and demonstrate a high level of comprehension about the interrelationship between visual form and meaning.
  • Painting I: An introduction to painting, emphasizing techniques and methods of communicating ideas visually. Class size is limited.
  • Printmaking I: An introduction to some basic printmaking methods including serigraphy, linocuts, collographs, and intaglio. Class size is limited.
  • Photography I: An exploration of black and white photography as an art form. Students must provide their own 35mm camera. Class size is limited.
  • Motion Graphics: This course is an introduction to the art of 2-D and 3-D digital graphics animation and interactivity for video, Web, and DVD. Students will gain knowledge of digital animation and its history. Projects are centered on getting hands-on experience and will integrate learning with real-world video production. The course also focuses on planning, design, and production using lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and screenings. Students will focus on using the most popular software programs.
  • Drawing II
  • Principles of Marketing: A study of marketing institutions, product development, channels of distribution, price determination, promotion methods, government influences, and ethical problems facing marketing personnel. Includes a foundational study and discussion of business from a Christian perspective.
  • General Chemistry for Engineering: This course will cover the foundations of chemistry with an emphasis on topics and problems relevant to engineering. Topics include atomic and molecular structure, chemical equilibria, chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, and electrochemistry. An introduction to laboratory safety and chemical hygiene is included in the laboratory. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory period per week.
  • Principles of Chemistry: A study of the fundamental principles of chemistry and an introduction to foundational issues in science. Topics include atomic and molecular structure, chemical equilibria, chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, and electrochemistry. An introduction to laboratory safety and chemical hygiene is included in the laboratory. This is the first course in chemistry for majors in the physical and life sciences. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory period per week.
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies I: An introduction to contemporary environmental studies and creation care, with emphasis on class discussion of relationships between human population and resource use in light of biblical teaching about environmental stewardship. Particular attention is given to the biotic and ecological dimensions of creation stewardship and planetary distress. Designed to be taken by environmental studies majors concurrently with Environmental Studies 161.
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies II: Flowing from a foundation in physical and earth sciences, this course offers an introduction to energy and material use in Western society and examines the resulting impact on the environment. Contemporary practices and their historical roots are critiqued in light of Biblical norms for stewardship. An emphasis on evaluation and implementation of practical steps toward sustainability permeates the course with the goal of motivating and equipping students to become lifelong stewards. The laboratory portion of the course combines tours, laboratory measurements, economic analysis, and environmental analysis. Three lectures and one laboratory period of three hours per week.
  • Calculus I: A study of the basic concepts and techniques of calculus for students in all disciplines. Topics include limits, differentiation, integration, and applications. This course is intended for students without any previous calculus credit.
  • General Physics I: An introduction to the study of the physical aspect of reality. Topics covered include mechanics, kinetic theory, heat, and thermodynamics. Three lectures and one laboratory per week.
  • Introductory Physics I: An introduction to the study of the physical aspect of reality for students intending to continue in the physical sciences and engineering.
    Linear and rotational kinematics and dynamics, statics, and gravitation will be covered. Three lectures and one laboratory period per week.
  • Principles of Construction Management: An introductory survey course in construction management that begins by building a Christian perspective on the task and calling of a construction manager or construction engineer. The course introduces methods of construction project planning, scheduling, delivery, quality, and control. It also introduces construction contract types, construction cost estimating and accounting, along with an overview of construction method, practice, and safety.
  • Construction Communication and Architectural Graphics: This lab studio course introduces architectural and construction communication by practicing methods of construction documentation and preparation. The course will introduce students to basic plan reading. Construction planning computer applications and architectural computer-aided drafting will be explored and practiced.
  • History of Science and Technology: Enables the student to examine from a Reformed, biblical perspective the narrative of scientific unfolding and technological development as two human activities that are manifest in all cultures. Emphasis is on the major paradigms and events that have shaped the development of science and technology in the West and most recently in North America. The course focuses on the historical activity of engineers and artisans, while investigating the interrelationship between scientific thought and technological development. Events and ideas such as the philosophical origins of Western science, the Copernican revolution, Enlightenment rationalism, the industrial revolutions, 20th century positivism, the Einsteinian revolution, and the modern systemization ethic are discussed.
  • Technology and Society: An examination and critique of the relationship of technology to other areas of Western society. During the first half of the course students examine a Christian philosophy of technology and application is made to such problems as the role of the computer, technocracy, appropriate technology, and the historical two-cultures dualism. During its second half, the course focuses on the question of engineering ethics, with particular emphasis on such questions as safety and risk, professional responsibility and authority, whistle blowing, normative socioeconomic structures, and morality in career choice. This course requires the student to write and orally present a significant thesis paper.
  • Geographic Information Systems and Surveying: Even An introduction to the acquisition, analysis, display, manipulation, and management of geographic information. Course topics will include geographical data input, storage, maintenance, analysis, and retrieval. Students will utilize common GIS software and associated hardware. An overview of survey methods used to gather and quantify features of physical geography will be included. The course will meet in two studio lab classes to provide an integral learn-by-doing experience applying GPS technology, survey methods, and GIS applications. Application of GIS to agriculture, business, environmental management, and other disciplines will be provided in this course.
  • Statics for Construction Management: A mechanics course that examines the effects of forces on statically determinate rigid bodies in equilibrium, including the analysis of determinate truss structures. This course is a subsection of Engineering 208.
  • Mechanics of Materials for Construction Management: A mechanics course that examines the stresses, strains, and deformations that develop when various loads are applied to deformable bodies, including beams and columns. This course is a subsection of Engineering 212.
  • Construction Materials and Methods: A comprehensive study of the properties, sources, processing, methods, sequences, and equipment used in residential and commercial construction projects. Planning and managing of the construction process, including an introduction to structural and finish systems that make up building structures, are investigated. Appropriate application and responsible use of materials for design and functional intent is investigated. The environmental impact of construction is discussed.
  • Mechanical and Electrical Systems: A study of the construction of mechanical and electrical systems, emphasizing principles of heating, cooling, ventilation, water supply, waste disposal, and electrical distribution. An introduction to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing codes and design software included. Energy conservation issues, sustainable design principles, and use of renewable energy are addressed.
  • Project Management: This course is an introduction to the field of project management. The primary objective is to acquaint students with a broad basic overview of project management and the role of a project manager throughout the five primary processes of managing projects. The course will also cover common agile methodologies and principles because of how they relate to project management. The agile project management process encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, teamwork, accountability, self-organization, best practices that allows for rapid delivery and high quality, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.
  • Construction Estimating: An introduction to construction estimating and bid preparation with an emphasis on quantity takeoff. Includes a detailed study and application of pricing, subcontract evaluation, and bidding techniques using blueprints and specifications. Project types studied include residential, light commercial, and commercial building projects.
  • Soil Mechanics and Foundation Design: A study of the engineering principles relating to soil properties and foundation design. The material properties of soil including structure, index properties, permeability, compressibility, and consolidation will be explored. Methods of soil testing, identification, and remediation will be covered. Principles of settlement and stresses in soils will be considered. Slope stability, retaining walls, and bearing capacity of shallow foundations will be introduced. The soils lab will provide hands-on opportunities to determine water content, perform sieve analyses, and test liquid, plastic, and shrinkage limits. Soil classification, compaction, compression, and consolidation testing will be explored.
  • Introduction to Computer Aided Engineering and Design: The design studio experience introduces concepts of graphical communication for engineers and develops basic 2-D and 3-D design skills with the use of a solid modeling software package. The course meets for one design studio per week.
  • Introduction to Engineering Energy and Economics: An engineering foundations course that introduces students to engineering design economics (energy, material, time, and money) within the broader norms of engineering stewardship. Basic engineering analysis and problem-solving tools will be practiced.
  • Introduction to Engineering Design: An engineering foundations course that introduces students to Christian discipleship as expressed in the field of engineering. Students are exposed to the concept of a biblically guided engineering design process. Students are given the opportunity to learn about engineering by doing engineering as they participate in a project-based engineering analysis and design activities.
  • Introduction to Engineering Statics and Structures: An introduction to the engineering analysis and design of structures. Students will explore principles of statics and mechanics within the broader context of engineering analysis and design. The course meets for one studio session per week.
  • Introduction to Engineering Analysis: An introduction to engineering mathematics and problem solving, introducing foundational mathematics and computational tools for the solution of a variety of engineering problems. The course introduces a perspective on how the activities of both math and science can inform and constrain our ability to design normatively. The course meets for one lecture session and one studio session per week.
  • Introduction to Engineering Electronics: An introduction to electrical engineering fundamentals relating to electrical energy and circuit analysis. Concepts in digital logic and digital electronics are also introduced. Students will explore principles of electronic systems within the broader context of engineering analysis and design. The course meets for one studio session per week.
  • Elements of Materials Science: Studies the relationship between structure and properties of various materials, including metals, ceramics, polymers, and semiconductors. Students will learn how atomic and molecular arrangements, as well as manufacturing processes, influence the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of a material. Introductory topics in metallurgy in this course include the examination of effects of processing (heat treatment and manufacturing) and service environment on microstructure and properties. Laboratory explorations in materials engineering introduce concepts in experimental design and data analysis.

See the course catalog for more information.

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Science and Technology Center

As a pre-architectural design Major, you'll have the opportunity to spend time in Dordt's Science and Technology Center. Informally known as the "Science Building," the Science and Technology Center is home to Dordt's 180-seat lecture hall.

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A front exterior view of the Science and Technology Center


With experience in a variety of fields, our faculty members are equipped and ready to help you succeed.

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