JaxLab Welcomes First Cohort into New UF Architectural Master’s Program

JaxLab Welcomes First Cohort into New UF Architectural Master’s Program
The third floor of Cathedral House of St. John’s Cathedral will be home to UF’s JaxLab, once fundraising efforts and renovations are complete.

The first cohort of students of Jacksonville’s newly-minted JaxLab officially started this fall. JaxLab is a special purpose educational site offering graduate degree programs in architecture and sustainability through the University of Florida’s (UF) College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP).

JaxLab is the second CityLab UF has opened for its architectural graduate program, with the first being CityLab – Orlando, which was launched in 2012.

“The CityLab program, the model is a lot of the potential students can’t, for whatever reason, pick up and move to Gainesville,” said DCP Associate Dean and JaxLab Program Director Nancy Clark. “So, basically, we’re bringing the degree program to them and that’s the concept in Orlando and now in Jacksonville.”

Ultimately, JaxLab will be housed on the third floor of Cathedral House, the educational administrative building for St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral on Church Street, allowing students to train in an environment uniquely suited to their field of study. The cathedral has maintained a mission to be civically engaged and has been “education-focused,” through both its preschool and the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, which was birthed through the cathedral. This is the first opportunity the institution has had to get involved at the collegiate or graduate level.

“We’re an old, historic jewel in the heart of the city, so it’s a great place for people to study about historic preservation as well as in looking at the river and how to build in relation to that beautiful body of water,” said Dean Kate Moorehead Carroll.

The students are currently using temporary accommodations on Market Street while UF completes its final stretch of fundraising for the approximately $350,000 renovation project for the 2,557 square feet of designated space in Cathedral House. Clark said UF hopes to have students move into the official JaxLab in the Cathedral District by fall 2024.

“Our focus areas are sustainability, regenerative design, historic preservation and we are moving towards an AI degree – but AI in design, AI in architecture,” Clark said. “We’re trying to collaborate with the other institutions in the area, so we think it’s really mutually beneficial for the other institutions as well as UF.”

Clark said Jacksonville provides a “unique context” to be a “living, learning laboratory” and that DCP hopes to interact and integrate itself with the community at large through the various design projects coming from the students at JaxLab.

“We’re also very excited to be in Jacksonville because it’s a water-based city,” she said. “For us, it’s addressing these contemporary challenges at the intersection of natural and constructed environments.”

Clark explained that UF was approached by Jacksonville’s professional community about creating a CityLab here following the success of its flagship lab in Orlando in an effort to keep young professionals here in the community since students often don’t return home once they go off to graduate school.

“We want to keep the talent in Jacksonville. So that’s one of the reasons we were approached by the community as well,” she said.

Placing JaxLab at Cathedral House also allows the Cathedral District to begin building its own academic presence.

“Our brand is ‘Love at the core,’ which means love in the core of our hearts but also love in the urban core. We’re committed to manifesting God’s love in the urban core, and we see this as the next step, providing this school of architecture in the urban core because we believe these architects are going to influence the physical surroundings, and they’re going to help us become a greater city,” Moorehead Carroll said.

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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