By: Kyle Niblett
After a decade of success at CityLab-Orlando, the University of Florida School of Architecture (SoA) was granted approval this past month to open its brand-new JaxLab in Jacksonville, with a mission to produce future architects and designers with expertise in resilient built environments. With an opening date yet to be determined, CityLab-Jacksonville will be led by program director Nancy Clark, who will oversee the 2,800-square-foot classroom and workspace that will be located on the third floor of the St. John’s Cathedral Education Building at 256 E. Church St.
“We are building on the success of the Orlando project,” said Clark, who also serves as an associate professor of architecture at the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP) and as the director of the college’s Center for Hydro-generated Urbanism.
The idea of opening another off-campus lab came when St. John’s Dean Rev. Kate Moorehead contacted former interim SoA Director Frank Bosworth with the idea. After several meetings involving St. John’s, an urban renewal non-profit named Cathedral District Jax and DCP, the idea for a collaboration between UF and the communities of Jacksonville took form.
“Rev. Moorehead was instrumental in helping us locate the cathedral,” Clark said. “We love being downtown and we’re happy to be in the cathedral. There is no doubt in my mind we will bring new energy to the district.”
With the local American Institute of Architects chapter supporting a professional degree program of architecture at JaxLab, the venue will offer two degrees: a Master of Architecture for people who want to become licensed architects, and a Master of Science in Architectural Studies focused on historic preservation, resilience and sustainability. Most classes will take place throughout the day utilizing a hybrid delivery method including academic “intensives,” multi-day workshop formats and all-day meetings (three to four times a semester).
Plans for JaxLab’s long-term educational mission are to foster local community partnerships while simultaneously teaching and training students to service Jacksonville’s unique community. With the urban core and riverfront areas experiencing revolutionary revitalization, JaxLab is uniquely positioned to serve as a regional think tank on resilient and sustainable cities, allowing future Gators to build a tangible knowledge base of best practices for the region’s network of cities.
“JaxLab builds on the School of Architecture’s mission to reposition architectural education as a mode of public service and a method of applied research,” School of Architecture Director David Rifkind said. “CityLab-Jacksonville represents an exciting opportunity to reach new groups of students, expand our research on resilience and sustainability in coastal cities, and collaborate with Jacksonville’s communities to shape the city’s growth.”