The BAC Remembers Sanford R. Greenfield’s Legacy

Former Director of Education made lasting impact on architectural education at the BAC and beyond

Sanford "Sandy" Greenfield; Photo by Phokion Karas

Sanford "Sandy" R. Greenfield; Photo by Phokion Karas, Courtesy BAC Archives

The Boston Architectural College remembers the legacy of Sanford "Sandy" R. Greenfield, FAIA, former Director of Education at the Boston Architectural Center. Sandy passed away on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 in Newton, MA. He was a visionary and had a great impact on the BAC during and after his tenure.

Sandy was a Fulbright Scholar, held a Bachelor and Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and a Master of Education from Harvard University. Prior to working at the BAC, he was as an instructor at M.I.T. and Massachusetts College of Art as well as a partner at Carroll and Greenfield Architects.

During his 21 years at the BAC, between 1953 and 1974, Sandy worked as a thesis advisor and as the Director of Education. His roles at the Center expanded to Chairman of the BAC Lecture Series, Project Director of the BAC Workshop Series, Chairman of the First Boston Architectural Center Conference, "Architecture and the Computer," and a Member of the Steering Committee for the BAC New Building Dedication Week Committee.

In addition to his work on campus, Sandy was active in the community, serving as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and Founding Director of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium. He also was an invited lecturer at universities throughout the U.S., including Syracuse University, University of Southern California, University of Miami, and more.

Sandy's tenure at the BAC was marked by a period of rapid transition in the school's history. After leaving its early quarters on Beacon Hill, the BAC dedicated its new building on Newbury Street in 1966. During this time the BAC experienced an unprecedented growth in student population, growing from two hundred to six hundred students in less than five years.

This growth was a turning point for the BAC. As the school brought in more students from diverse backgrounds, it was forced to evolve from the intimate nature of the architectural club. To accommodate the influx in students, the school hired full-time administrators for the first time in history. All of this change was a point of contention within the BAC community; some wanted to return to the original club while others wished to expand the school into a degree-granting institution.

Sandy played an important role in shaping the BAC's changing approach to education. In 1967, Sandy was appointed Director of Education, making him one of the first full-time professional administrators at the BAC.

In 1968, he delivered an address at the annual meeting that outlined three different scenarios for the BAC's future. It proposed daytime classes, faculty stipends, and professional accreditation for the first time. He imagined integrating students' paid work in firms directly into the curriculum, creating a system of combined applied and theoretical learning where students' professional work experience would dovetail meaningfully with their academic studies.

This idea developed into today's practice component within the BAC curriculum. In 1971, the BAC was awarded its first full six-year accreditation by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, making it the first accredited school in the US with a structured work component. His daughter, Stefanie Greenfield, a principal at Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., reflected that her father often told her that getting the BAC accredited was one of his proudest accomplishments.

Sandy was passionate about maintaining open admissions at the BAC and making an architectural education accessible. He understood that there was no formal way to predict whether a person could become a successful architect and maintained that the BAC should offer an alternate method of educating architects from the standard professional school.

When Sandy left the BAC in 1974, the BAC had grown from just 23 graduates between 1950 and 1965 to 113 graduates between his years as Educational Director from 1967 to 1974. Under Sandy's leadership, the BAC sponsored a national conference in 1964, the first of its kind, titled, "Architecture and the Computer." It was so revolutionary that people still visit the BAC's archives today to study the conference proceedings.

After the BAC, he went on to become chairman and professor of the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University and Dean of the School of Architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). In acknowledgement of his great contributions to architectural education, Sandy was awarded the Centennial Educator Award at the Boston Architectural Center Centennial Celebration in 1989. In 1996, the School of Architecture at NJIT established the Sanford R. Greenfield collection in their Library in honor of his 70th birthday.

Sandy was integral in the evolution of the BAC to the fully accredited institution that it is today. His impact will be forever remembered by the Boston Architectural College. Please join us in celebrating the legacy of Sanford R. Greenfield.