UF CityLab Program Soldiers On



With the opening of the Center for Architecture Sarasota in 2015, the promise of an educational component came with it. The University of Florida announced the launch of a CityLab-Sarasota program, which included master’s degree classes. But thanks to an issue with the Gainesville school serving the same territory as the University of South Florida, the program will soon wind down.

But Program Director Martin Gold said that doesn’t mean CityLab will disappear from the community. “The CityLab has two roles, and one is the University of Florida’s outreach mission into the community,” he says. Students and faculty from UF use the CityLab programs both in Sarasota and in Orlando to study issues like urbanism and sea level rise and how those can affect the built environment. Having space at Center for Architecture Sarasota allows a home base for that story in this area. “The ability to engage with the community is still viable,” says Gold.

Indeed, the CityLab outreach has been so successful at its two existing locations that Gold says UF may open a third up in the Miami area.

But what has changed with CityLab? Gold says that because the University of South Florida does not want UF’s program operating in the area, a permanent graduate offering cannot be headquartered in Sarasota anymore. UF always had the right to run a temporary program with or without the permission of the close state university, but that program will have to sunset. “We’ve had to decline people the last two years who wanted to attend the program,” he said. “How many would have come but didn’t? Who knows.” 

A ceremony took place earlier this month where scholarships were awarded to three students still enrolled at the Sarasota program, ensuring they can finish up their studies here. The last graduate students headquartered at the Sarasota-based program will complete their degrees in the spring, at which point the temporary program will come to a close.

Students based in Gainesville, however, can continue to come down to Sarasota for field studies out of the CityLab, and some may end up doing so as much as three or four times a week. “Sarasota needs a school of architecture in Sarasota,” Gold says. “The community wants it and we would really like to deliver it.”

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