Architectural education in La Plata began in 1952 as an undergraduate degree within a Department at the School of Engineering of the UNLP. In 1956, the Department of Architecture was founded with the direction of Architect Hilario Zalba; and still based at the School of Engineering. Architecture and Urbanism achieved its full academic autonomy in 1965, becoming the School of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU-UNLP), with Architect Alfredo Kleinert as its first Dean.
The curriculum of the degree in Architecture was approved in 1981 and has been subject of successive modifications during the following two decades. The implementation of the newest curriculum is currently under way. The organizational structure - defined through ‘vertical studios' led by different Chairs - constitutes a cornerstone of this proposal, which accounts for diversity and complementarity of plural approaches and methodologies, strongly based on a consolidated set of urban and architectural criteria. The organization of teaching assures an appropriate vertical integration of knowledge along the students' degree, which incorporates criteria of gradual and increasing complexity. A unique feature of this Faculty is that Professorships and Chairs are awarded - by means of periodical academic and program contests - to teams of three professors - two Full ones and an Associate one-and not to individuals.
The University's institutional mission includes three core activities: Teaching, Research and Extension, expressing a democratic conception of education and University Government, which emphasizes the relationship between University and society. In this sense, FAU's objective is to provide education and training that enable its future graduates to interpret current and future demands and needs of the society in which they live, turning knowledge into a "social good" that consolidates a democratic society.
Around 1,000 new students apply to the School of Architecture every year. In order to improve their performance during their first year of studies, an explicit strategy articulates - since 1984 - dissemination, guidance, orientation and teaching activities with Secondary Education level. As from 2002, FAU's Academic Secretary implements an admission - leveling, non-selective - course with the participations of Associate Professors of all Architecture Studios and first-year courses.
At present FAU has an important academic offer in terms of graduate programs that respond to contextual needs, consolidating areas of knowledge in the field of architecture and urbanism. Most relevant ones are:
Research is a rather recent activity in FAU, since it started with the creation of IDEHAB - the Institute for Habitat Research - in 1986. The Research Secretary was founded three years later. The whole institutional framework of FAU's research area was redesigned in 2009 by replacing IDEHAB's former Research Units and creating 8 new, autonomous research organisms with different complexity and organizational levels: 4 Laboratories, 2 Centres and 2 Institutes - IIPAC being the biggest and more active of them all, considering the number and qualifications of its researchers and scholars and number of Research and Extension projects under way.
University Extension aims at linking FAU with the region's whole social environment and at ensuring an effective and committed interaction. This is pursued through a set of activities conducive to identify and qualify social and environmental problems and demands, as well as by coordinating relevant transfer actions.
The Extension Secretariat is currently structured around programs that enable a dynamic and flexible management of the region's social, technical and political requirements, needs and demands and its institutional objectives and goals.