Joseph Nelson Bradford, graduated from The Ohio State University in 1878 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He returned to teach in the Department of Engineering in 1885. After having created the Department of Fine Arts in 1886 and the Department of Photography in 1890, he founded the 11th architecture program in the country within the Department of Engineering in 1899. In 1900 he developed the program into a full four-year curriculum. The first degree was conferred on John Peterson in 1903. In 1906, Bradford succeeded in creating architecture as an independent area of study within an enlarged College of Engineering by establishing an autonomous Department of Architecture. As early as 1918, a parallel four-year program in architectural engineering was introduced. The last Bachelor degree in Architectural Engineering was conferred in 1939.
Courses in landscape architecture were first offered in 1915 in the College of Agriculture. In 1927, the program was transferred to the Department of Fine Arts. In 1937, landscape architecture was transferred to the College of Engineering and was made an integral part of the newly named Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. In 1950, the Board of Trustees voted to reorganize the Department into the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, a more nearly autonomous unit of the College of Engineering. As a climax to a growing interest in the urban environment within the department, the Board of Trustees voted in 1956 to initiate a program of teaching and research in city planning in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. In 1963, the program became recognized by the American Institute of Certified Planners. In 1967, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture became the School of Architecture.
During the 1960s, architecture offerings were enlarged to accommodate graduate students, and master of architecture was first offered in 1966. In 1968, the faculty voted to withdraw the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree and to initiate a new four-year degree, Bachelor of Science in architecture, as the pre-professional degree for the established master of architecture. In 1969, landscape architecture elected to initiate a new accredited Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, and this was later followed by a new master of landscape architecture in 1978. In 1984, city and regional planning established a PhD program, in addition to its recognized master program. In 1994, to achieve greater efficiency and more interaction between the disciplines, the three departments were converted to academic sections within the school. In addition, the school was renamed the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture in recognition of its distinguished alumnus, Austin E. “Dutch” Knowlton ’31. In 2009, city and regional planning launched a new Bachelor of Science major, giving the school undergraduate and graduate degrees in all three sections.