There and Back Again – An Architect’s Tale
U of I Architecture Program Dual Location Allows Student to Plan for His Dream Career
Tyler Schram ’20, ‘22 wanted to earn a top-quality education while saving money.
Schram, who dreamed of a career in architecture, discovered that the University of Idaho is the state’s only public university with an accredited architecture program.
“As I was ready to apply to college, U of I Boise had just opened the doors to undergraduate architecture students, and we could start coursework right here in any of the three U of I architecture-related degrees; it was perfect,” Schram said.
In 2017, Schram joined the U of I College of Art and Architecture (CAA) Urban Design Center – where undergraduate students can study architecture, interior architecture and design or landscape architecture in the heart of downtown Boise. This new program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to explore architecture as a career while staying close to home and saving money.
“I already lived in Boise,” Schram said. “Attending U of I Boise for a semester allowed me to save on housing and meal plan costs and get acquainted with the U of I and the architecture program before I went to Moscow to finish.”
Coming Full Circle
Before becoming a Vandal, Schram attended College of Western Idaho in Nampa. Community college tuition was more affordable than a four-year school, and U of I made the transfer of credits from CWI easy, Schram said.
Dwaine Carver, assistant professor at CAA Boise, met Schram as an undergraduate student and remembers his early work and approach to architecture.
“When he started here, Tyler was perhaps five years older than a traditional undergraduate student, and being more mature helped him with his perspective about architecture,” Carver said. “I found his willingness to be personal with his work striking. A good design or art student needs to be able to translate their personal experiences into their work.”
Attending U of I Boise for a semester allowed me to save on housing and meal plan costs and get acquainted with the U of I and the architecture program before I went to Moscow to finish. Tyler Schram ’20, ’22
The CAA Boise program allows students to take up to two years’ worth of courses toward their undergraduate degrees before moving to Moscow to complete the coursework. Schram, who did one semester in Boise, spent his time on U of I’s Moscow campus learning about sustainable architecture and honing his leadership skills. He travelled abroad to help build a school in Togo, became president of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), and taught other architecture students as a teaching assistant.
“My goal when I became president of the AIAS was to help the organization grow and reach out to more students so they could connect with professionals in the field,” Schram said. “With COVID-19, we had to reinvent ourselves and move from in-person experiences to Zoom events. What I took from that experience was how to structure a group to be successful in the future, even after I left.”
Schram returned to Boise in Summer 2019 to complete an internship with NEU Design, a Meridian-based architecture firm. He then completed his degree in the U of I Moscow campus. He’s now finishing his thesis, spending time on both campuses, and getting ready to graduate in Spring 2022 while he works as a research assistant at the Integrated Design Lab (IDL).
At the IDL, a research, education and outreach facility committed to designing high performance, energy efficient buildings, Schram participates in projects such as testing a new insulation product made of hemp , creating energy efficiency reports and learning about tools to design more sustainable buildings.
Carver said that one of the unique characteristics of the CAA Boise program is that students of all levels can work side by side with each other and the faculty.
As a student, Tyler is a generous and responsive in his critique of his fellow students’ work and insightful in his feedback. Dwaine Carver, CAA Assistant Professor
“It is a tight community because of the smaller shared space, and that allowed Tyler to interact with graduate and undergraduate students,” Carver said.
Schram collaborates with other graduate students in the IDL and sits in on undergraduate critiques, where faculty and students provide feedback to undergraduate students’ projects.
“As a student, Tyler is a generous and responsive in his critique of his fellow students’ work and insightful in his feedback,” Carver said. “Going through the architecture program has helped him develop his confidence. He’s flourished through the years, has cultivated his skills and developed more leadership skills through time.”
Schram is now focused on finishing his thesis and looking for opportunities as a professional architect, with a focus on designing sustainable and improved communities.
“I’m doing my thesis on improving the livability of suburban communities, and how new transit infrastructure in Boise coupled with architectural interventions can resolve issues that we have with car dependency,” Schram said. “My thesis will examine how a new transit system could create communities that can be more walkable, more connected and more physically and environmentally sustainable.”
To Carver, Schram is part of a generation taking a leadership role when it comes to tackling climate change.
“Tyler, like many of his peers, has the understanding that we are in a new era where the human impact on climate change is undeniable,” Carver said. “This fundamental understanding transforms their relationship to the built environment. I see Tyler as part of that movement and his thesis shows that he’s addressing that problem in an inventive way by working on sprawl and the culture of suburbanism around it.”