How many times have you been all set to buy the latest Apple gadget only to be told by a friend to wait—an updated version is scheduled to come out soon and any day now the phone in your pocket will just be one generation closer to obsolescence, your top-of-the-line iPad sadly out of date? Maybe I'm just airing my personal grievances here, but for those reminiscing about a simpler time, there's an oasis of traditional, time-honored craftsmanship in a Charleston, SC jail built over two hundred years ago, back before Steve Jobs was even a glimmer in his great-great-great-great grandfather's eye.
It's The American College of Building Arts, the only school in the United States to combine a four-year liberal arts education with specialized training in pre-Industrial trades—and the only school to boast 100% job placement. Granted, the average class size is less than twenty, but I expect that to increase with the ever-growing resurgence of the hand-made.
Students can major in Architectural Stone, Carpentry, Forged Architectural Ironwork, Plaster Working, Preservation Masonry or Timber Framing. They receive hands-on training within the school itself, which ACBA's president, General Colby M. Broadwater III (how's that for distinguished?) calls a "living laboratory." The campus was originally a jail built in 1802 with the help of Robert Mills, whom many consider the first all-American trained architect, and who later went on to design the Washington Monument. The building doesn't look like it's been updated in a while, but it acts as a canvas, providing students with an immediate source through which to practice what they learn—right on the classroom walls.
When Perrin isn't scouting the best new design talent for Core77, or working as the Products Editor of The Architect's Newspaper, or writing for Cool Hunting, Design Applause, Print Magazine, Frieze and The Paris Review, she's trying to put her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College to good use.