Context—deceptively simple in definition, but complex when understood in its entirety. Context includes the physical, cultural and spiritual embodiments of any site. Context is the existing built environment as we experience it today as much as it is the cultural conditions (past, present and future) that have formed it. Milwaukee’s rich history is the palimpsest upon which the School’s current architectural discourse and intervention is written. It is a post-industrial urban laboratory in which our faculty practice and our students postulate. It is a living laboratory; just as the "industrial" became the "post-industrial," so does Milwaukee continue to evolve and provoke new questions and opportunities for study and intervention.
SARUP provides the tools for students to delve into the matrix of historical, social and physical forces that inform the sites with which they are confronted. And they are challenged to design context-sensitive, temporally relevant solutions—understanding the past while designing for the future. Perhaps most important, these tools remain with our students as they go on to participate in designing the built environment regionally, nationally and globally.
Immersing one’s self in another place is one of the most potent tools to understand the context from which one came. For the international student attending SARUP, Milwaukee provides an immersive experience in Midwestern pragmatism and openness, characterized by Milwaukee’s students, history and built environment. For the American student, travel abroad provides windows into many histories of urban development, thereby casting light on Milwaukee’s own history and development through observed contrasts and similarities. Traveling within the US and abroad adds enriches a student’s architectural education in ways that can only be fully realized over time. Studying architecture in Wisconsin’s largest city will provide an experience that is rooted in the notion of Place, while equipping students to go out into the world with skills and knowledge that engage, rather than transcend time and place.