University of Florida architecture and sustainability grad program to locate in Jacksonville’s cathedral district

St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, Diocese of Florida
Posted Jul 24, 2023

St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Cathedral District-Jax, Inc., and the University of Florida School of Architecture today announce the formation of JaxLab CityLab-Jacksonville, a graduate degree program of Architecture and Sustainability in Downtown Jacksonville in the Cathedral District on Cathedral Hill.

The University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP) JaxLab CityLab-Jacksonville, is a special purpose educational site. As part of DCP’s School of Architecture (SoA), JaxLab offers graduate degree programs in architecture and sustainability.

The graduate school will be located adjacent to St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral on the third floor of an educational administrative building, Cathedral House, 256 E. Church Street.

Since August 2020 the project has been under negotiation between the University of Florida’s School of Architecture, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral and Cathedral District-Jax Inc. with the generous assistance of Chip Bachara, Managing Partner of Bachara Construction Law Group, who represented the landlord pro bono throughout the negotiations.

JaxLab offers three Master of Architecture degree tracks and provides students with a unique opportunity to study architecture, sustainability, and urban design in Jacksonville. Due to the city’s connection to the St. Johns River and Jacksonville’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, JaxLab students explore design ideas within the context of the city with an academic focus on the relationship of the city to the natural environment.

Students in the JaxLab program who live and work in the greater Jacksonville area will have the opportunity to earn a UF master’s degree in Sustainability or a Master of Architecture, the professional degree that leads to licensure as an architect. The degree programs are offered as blended delivery, affording students a mix of synchronous online and face-to-face intensives. The JaxLab facility is available for student use 24-7 during the semester, and students have access to studio space as well as plotting and printing equipment, and digital conferencing equipment to link students with their peers in Orlando and Gainesville, and to facilitate online learning.

JaxLab will provide year-round graduate programs to facilitate student employment while in school. Participation in the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL), allows them to complete both the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) simultaneously and achieve licensure.

CityLabs are self-supporting off-campus graduate programs of the UF School of Architecture and offer three degrees: two in Master of Architecture and a Master of Science & Architectural Studies. The CityLab-Orlando program, located in downtown Orlando, was launched in 2012 and today has a combined enrollment of 100-plus students.

The program follows the same fully accredited curriculum as the main campus in Gainesville and focuses on design investigations of the cultural, social, technical, economic, and environmental contexts that shape buildings and cities. The culmination of the degree is a thesis or research project that is a highly personal synthesis of the knowledge, experience, and skills gained in the design studio and support courses.

JaxLab is approximately a $350,000 renovation project. The designated space is 2,557 sq. feet, located on the 3rd floor of the Cathedral House, a 4-story historic educational building built in 1964 in Gothic Revival style in downtown Jacksonville. The lead gift is from Preston and Joan Haskell, the Haskell Company, and the Plummer Foundation. Other local donors continue to support the graduate school.

The school will be under the direction of Associate Dean, Program Director Nancy Clark. Classes are in person and online in conjunction with a similar program, CityLab-Orlando.

“St. John’s Cathedral is in the forefront of a national dialogue regarding sacred places and re-thinking the use of these beautiful campus assets from looking inside to looking outside to meet the needs of the community,” said CD-J Pres. & CEO Ginny Myrick.

“In the Middle Ages, Universities were born from Cathedrals. We are eager to become a civic center for the urban core. We already host concerts and art exhibits for people of all faiths or no faith. We aim to fill our historic campus all week. Our motto is Love at the Core because we believe God is calling us to revitalize Jacksonville’s urban core and this is a great step towards new life downtown,” said Dean Kate Moorehead Carroll.

“The program prepares graduates to engage contemporary challenges at the intersection of the natural and constructed environments, using Jacksonville’s unique context as a living, learning laboratory,” said DCP Associate Dean and JaxLab Program Director Nancy Clark.