Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Ralph J. Nagel Dean
E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts
MFA, Louisiana State University
MA, MBA, University of Wisconsin
Associate Dean for Finance
MBA, Washington University
College of Architecture/Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Director, College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Sam and Marilyn Fox Professor
MArch, Harvard University
College of Art/Graduate School of Art
Director, College and Graduate School of Art
Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman Jr. Professor of Art
MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator
PhD, University of Erlangen–Nürnberg
The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is a unique collaboration in architecture, art and design education that links professional studio programs with one of the country's finest university art museums in the context of an internationally recognized research university.
Composed of the College of Architecture, the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, the College of Art, the Graduate School of Art and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the Sam Fox School is an inspiring place for learning, making, and creative research. Its six-building complex features numerous exhibition and maker spaces, a dedicated art and architecture library, and a world-class art museum. Students have unparalleled resources that support a positive creative culture.
The College of Art, founded in 1879, was the first professional, university-affiliated art school in the United States. In the 1940s, its broad-based core program helped set the standards for the bachelor of fine arts degree. Faculty over the years have included Max Beckmann, Philip Guston and other internationally known artists.
The College of Architecture, established in 1910, was one of eight founding members of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In 1962, Architecture launched one of the nation's first Master of Urban Design programs. Four winners of the Pritzker Prize, considered architecture's highest honor, have taught at the school.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum dates back to 1881, making it the first art museum west of the Mississippi River. The collection has historically focused on contemporary work. Today, the Kemper Art Museum holds roughly 3,500 important paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations by 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century American and European artists, along with significant antiquities and a large number of prints and drawings.
Additional collaborative opportunities are provided by the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, the Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library, and the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library.
Inquiry, Creativity and Synthesis
The Sam Fox School offers rigorous art, design and architecture education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, within the unique context of an independent, nationally prominent research university.
The student body is composed of approximately 300 undergraduate and 40 graduate students in Art as well as 200 undergraduate and 225 graduate students in Architecture. In all, they represent 18 countries, 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Roughly 30% of undergraduates pursue combined studies with another university area.
Both core and advanced studios integrate contemporary theory and practice. Among the innovative programs offered are the following:
- Multidisciplinary courses are co-taught by Art, Architecture, and Art History and Archaeology faculty. Recent seminars have explored the history of illustrated entertainment, combined urban theory with book design and production, and crafted a variety of online publications. Courses in exhibition studies are being offered, and a new program of exhibition studies is under development.
- International studios in Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires and Florence are taught by Washington University faculty and offer a range of distinctive programs in art and architecture.
- Sam Fox School faculty, students, and staff work with individuals, organizations, governments, and communities — especially in St. Louis — through research, teaching and practice. This includes community-engaged teaching, service programs, research projects, and additional types of socially engaged practice.
Uniting Creativity and Scholarship
The Sam Fox School boasts a unique combination of academic and intellectual resources.
The Architecture faculty includes practicing architects, urban designers and landscape architects as well as eminent architectural theorists and historians and a select number of international visitors. The resident, full-time faculty members have won national and regional awards for design excellence and planning, including more than two dozen from the American Institute of Architects alone.
Art's full-time faculty members include prominent painters, sculptors, printmakers and mixed-media artists as well as leading illustrators, graphic designers, fashion designers and photographers. Design faculty have won numerous professional honors, and fine art faculty have been featured in more than 100 solo exhibitions and 300 group shows on five continents.
The nationally recognized Kemper Art Museum maintains a vital program of exhibitions, publications and educational events. Major thematic shows are drawn from institutions and private collections around the world, highlighting nationally and internationally emerging artists. The acclaimed permanent collection includes key works by modern and contemporary artists, from Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock to Christian Boltanski, Candida Hoefer and Olafur Eliasson.
Public events include concerts, film screenings, lectures and discussions with distinguished visitors, and museum tours led by student docents. The museum also provides workspace for faculty- and student-curated exhibitions (usually relating to Sam Fox School curriculum). Courses in Art History and Archaeology further complement the critical and practical study of exhibitions while facilitating student involvement in professional curatorial projects.
A Comprehensive Campus
The Sam Fox School is housed in a comprehensive, six-building campus for design and the visual arts located on the eastern portion of the Danforth Campus. Conceived around a central courtyard, it both reflects and updates Washington University's original campus plan, which was developed in 1895 by Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture.
Designed by the internationally acclaimed architecture firm KieranTimberlake, Anabeth and John Weil Hall houses state-of-the-art graduate studios, classrooms and digital fabrication spaces. With its abundant natural light and flexible, loft-style studios and workspaces, Weil Hall is a locus for teaching, study, creation and critique. The William A. Bernoudy Architecture Studio — along with studios for graduate architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, illustration & visual culture, and visual art — houses programs for the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design and the Graduate School of Art. Over the last decade, both graduate schools, which include the nationally ranked Master of Architecture and Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art programs, have doubled in size. The Roxanne H. Frank Design Studio houses the Graduate School of Art’s Master of Fine Arts in Illustration & Visual Culture.
Another component of Weil Hall — the luminous, two-story Kuehner Family Court — features a living green wall, skylights, and glass walls that allow for visual connectivity between studio spaces, providing students with a feeling of simultaneity and participation in a larger community. As the conceptual heart of the building, the Caleres Digital Fabrication Studio allows students and faculty across programs to execute complex projects using state-of-the-art tools. Other notable spaces include the Ralph J. Nagel Dean’s Suite and Weil Hall Commons, which includes a commissioned mural wall that features new works by alumni each year.
Earl E. and Myrtle E. Walker Hall brings together the undergraduate sculpture and painting areas. The sculpture area includes undergraduate studios, a wood shop, a metal shop, an installation room, and a faculty office, all on the ground level and first floor. The undergraduate painting studios are on the second floor.
William K. Bixby Hall, completed in 1926, has grown and changed to meet the needs of the students, faculty and administration of the College & Graduate School of Art. The building currently houses teaching and studio spaces for first-year art and design students, the undergraduate fashion design and printmaking majors, and the Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book. The Dubinsky Printmaking Studio, a state-of-the-art facility, is located on the first floor beside Island Press, a research-based printmaking workshop that creates and publishes innovative prints and multiples by many of today’s most influential artists. On the ground floor, an administrative suite is home to student services, financial services, and the director of Art.
Joseph B. Givens Hall has been architecture's home since 1932. It features a variety of studio spaces, including large drafting rooms with 15-foot ceilings, large windows, and skylit ateliers. The building's compact and elegant Beaux-Arts design has at its heart a grand central stair often used for socializing and informal meetings. Givens Hall also houses a lecture hall, review spaces, classrooms and the office of the director of Architecture.
Mark C. Steinberg Hall, completed in 1960, was the first commission by Fumihiko Maki, then an architecture professor at Washington University. Formerly home to the Gallery of Art, the Department of Art History & Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, and the Art & Architecture Library, Steinberg Hall now houses Career Services and the undergraduate communication design and photography majors on the lower level; public spaces such as Steinberg Hall Gallery and Etta Eiseman Steinberg Auditorium on the main level; and architecture and communication design studios on the upper level.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, completed in 2006, is another commission by Maki. The elegant, 65,000-square-foot limestone-clad structure — a gathering point for scholars and the general public — includes more than 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, art storage facilities, and the Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden. The museum also houses the Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library and the Department of Art History & Archaeology.
The Sam Fox School invites distinguished academics and professionals to lecture, attend critiques and visit major studios.