Illustration: Michael Kirkham

Illustration: Michael Kirkham

While the profession of architecture has rebounded since the 2008 recession, with plentiful postings on job boards, the number of young people pursuing the vocation is lagging. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) reported that enrollment in architecture degree programs has dropped about 10 percent in the last five years.

The main culprit: Other majors are beating out architecture—particularly those that lead directly to jobs, such as engineering, the hard sciences, and those related to health. The trend is due to a variety of factors, including students’ lack of knowledge of architecture, the long and expensive road to becoming an architect, and recent changes to U.S. public schools’ curricula. The problem may worsen, as education experts are predicting that the country will produce fewer high school graduates in the coming years.

How can architecture attract more interest from the K–12 set? Organizations, degree-granting institutions, and individual architects and teachers are working to make architecture more appealing to young people through communications campaigns and outreach programs. Yet more fundamental structural changes are also required, and some are addressing this need by making the profession easier to join and more welcoming to largely untapped populations: women, people of color, and those from low-income families.