Alpha Rho Chi (ΑΡΧ) is a professional co-educational college fraternity for students studying architecture and related professions. The fraternity's name is derived from the first three letters of the Greek word for architecture, ἀρχιτεκτονική.
APX was founded on April 11, 1914, with the joining of Sigma Upsilon at the University of Michigan and the Arcus Society at the University of Illinois to form a national fraternity for Architecture and the allied arts.
Sigma Upsilon was founded four years prior by eight architecture students at Michigan, with the intent of eventually forming a national architecture fraternity, and had drafted their constitution and laws to reflect that. Two years after they were founded in 1912 they were recognized by their school as a fraternity and started negotiation with other schools to open up more chapters.
In 1911 the Arcus Society was formed by 15 architecture students, at first secret and then becoming public a year later. After their recognition by their school, they started correspondence with several other schools in an effort to expand as well. One of those schools was the University of Michigan, which was the start of the collaboration of the two founding brothers of APX, Leo M. Bauer of the Arcus Society and Chandler C. Cohagen of Sigma Upsilon.
According to fraternity history books, the University of Illinois chapter claims to be the first chapter of the new fraternity, by an attempt to set the meeting during a time in which Illinois was off on break, and Michigan's chapter would still be in classes, leading to the Anthemios chapter being the first chapter of the fraternity. Iktinos (Michigan) instead claims the first chapter out of pure virtue of their precursor organization existing before the one at Illinois. Both the Iktinos and Anthemios chapters are considered the founding chapters, and as such, share the same cadency mark.
The two founding brothers met on April 11, 1914 at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago, where they selected the new name of the combined organization, the new constitution and by-laws, and the coat of arms. The brothers decided to keep the colors of the Arcus Society, azure and sanguine, and the white rose, a symbol of Sigma Upsilon to represent both organizations. They also selected the names of the new chapters from a list of prominent Greek, Roman (and later on Egyptian) architects. Illinois selected Anthemios as their name and Michigan, Iktinos.
Alpha Rho Chi set expansion as their first goal, wanting to embody their vision of being a national architecture fraternity. Several existing architecture organizations petitioned to join, but the only Tau Epsilon Chi of Ohio State University was accepted, being installed as the Demetrios Chapter on February 25, 1916. The Cyma Club became the Mnesicles Chapter at the University of Minnesota on October 10, 1916. Recruiting efforts remained active, but with the start of World War I, most of the brothers entered the armed services and the number of chapters stayed at four.
After the war, the Kallikrates Chapter was installed at the University of Virginia on February 15, 1922. The Andronicus Chapter was installed a month later, on March 22, 1922, with eleven charter members at the University of Southern California. Expansion continued at a rapid pace with the addition of members at Kansas State, which formed the Paeonios Chapter on February 10, 1923. Ten members of the Delta Club at the University of Texas were initiated on April 19, 1924 to form the Dinocrates Chapter. The Polyklitos Chapter at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon University) was established on May 24, 1924. With the addition of the Theron Chapter at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) on May 23, 1926, the fraternity stood at ten active chapters and was truly national in stature.
The Depression and World War II affected the strength of the local chapters, and several failed to survive. Only six chapters returned – Anthemios, Iktinos, Demetrios, Mnesicles, Andronicus, and Kallikrates – with strong alumni support and renewed membership. In 1954, the Vitruvius colony was established at Pennsylvania State University, and it was installed as a chapter on March 27, 1955.
Next to be installed was a very active group from Arizona State University, who became the Satyros Chapter on May 13, 1962. Two surprised representatives from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) were initiated at the 31st National Convention; in turn they assisted with the installation of the Metagenes Chapter on March 23, 1969. With the addition of the Xenocles Chapter at the University of Texas at Arlington on September 13, 1970, Alpha Rho Chi returned to its former high point of ten active chapters.
During the early 1970s, fraternity membership in general dropped again as controversy raged on college campuses over the Vietnam War and any "establishment" organization. Alpha Rho Chi continued on, installing the Cleisthenes Chapter at the University of Houston on March 11, 1972. The beginning of the 1980s saw college fraternities enjoy a renaissance and Alpha Rho Chi added four new chapters. In June 1980, the vigorous Daedalus Chapter was founded at the California Polytechnic State University to become the fraternity’s second West Coast chapter. After a freezing initiation night at the Anthemios chapter house, the Daphnis Chapter of the University of Arkansas was installed on November 23, 1980. The Heracleides Chapter of the University of Oklahoma was installed with a down-home, Texas-style bar-b-que at Xenocles on September 6, 1981. After collecting the required ten members for initiation, the Rhoecus chapter was installed at the University of Kansas on April 8, 1984.
The Apollodorus colony was bussed from the University of Florida to Metagenes, a 13-hour trip. They were officially installed as a chapter in Gainesville, Florida on April 10, 1986. On March 29, 1992, Alpha Rho Chi installed the Pytheos Chapter at the University of Nebraska. The Seshait Chapter at Florida A&M University was installed on March 12, 1994, becoming the first chapter with an Egyptian namesake.
The co-op program at the University of Cincinnati created a unique installation for the Rabirius Chapter, whose members were initiated in two separate ceremonies; one held in Cincinnati on November 4, 2000, and the remainder of the members were initiated on January 20, 2001. In September 2001, a professor began correspondence with the fraternity in hopes of establishing a chapter of Alpha Rho Chi for the students at the University of Memphis. Up to this point, Alpha Rho Chi had limited expansion to accredited schools of architecture; however, after revisiting the fraternity’s original objectives and mission, it was determined that there was no reason to exclude the University of Memphis – and on October 19, 2002, the Imhotep Chapter was installed in Champaign, Illinois.
Improved communications – including the alpharhochi.org website and nearly universal email access – helped interested students of architecture discover and contact the national fraternity, accelerating the pace of expansion of new and reactivated chapters. Nicon Chapter was established at Florida International University on July 11, 2004. In the Northeast, the Vitruvius Chapter sponsored two new chapters simultaneously. Vitruvius installed the Domitian Chapter from the New Jersey Institute of Technology on January 30, 2005 and the Senenmut Chapter from the University at Buffalo on February 26, 2005 – the chapter’s fiftieth anniversary. A colony at Tulane University was preparing its petition to establish a chapter when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, closing the school for a semester and scattering the students across the country and to other continents. After regrouping, the Hadrian Chapter was finally installed on November 4, 2006.
After rocky beginnings, students at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco successfully formed the Cossutius Colony, and were installed at the Andronicus chapter house on January 20, 2008. Representatives from Andronicus, Daedalus, Satyros, Anthemios, Hadrian, and Vitruvius chapters were on hand to usher in the newest chapter.
The Anthemios chapter house is currently on the National Register of Historic Places at the University of Illinois. A centennial celebration is planned at the Anthemios chapter house beginning in 2014 sponsored by the Anthemios Alumni Association. The Andronicus chapter house is on the list of Historic Cultural Monuments by the City of Los Angeles, and is awaiting placement on the Federal Register of Historic Structures. The Anthemios house has 18 bedrooms, most which used to be double occupancy. Currently, only rooms 5-7, 16 and 17 are capable of double occupancy. Keeping up with the progressive era, the Anthemios house changed to coed bathrooms in the late 2000s due to the influx of female brothers.
The Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medal is awarded annually at accredited schools of architecture in the United States and Canada to honor graduating seniors who have demonstrated leadership, service, and the promise of professional merit. The recipients of the medal are decided by the faculty of each school. Membership in the fraternity is not a criterion for the award, nor is membership conferred to the medal's recipients. The medal program was established in 1931. Designed by sculptor Robert Merrell Gage, the medal is cast in bronze and features an image of a seated Athena holding a skyscraper.
On occasion, Alpha Rho Chi recognizes other individuals with two other classes of medals. The fraternity awards the Alpha Rho Chi Silver Medal for fraternal service. The Gold Alpha Rho Chi Medal honors an outstanding practitioner of architecture or an allied art. Recent recipients of the gold medal include I.M. Pei and Samuel Balen.
"Master Architect" is a special classification of membership in the fraternity to honor brothers who have gained national prominence in the field of architecture, the allied arts, or who have made significant contributions to the built environment.
The following individuals have been installed as Master Architect (with year honored):
Pei is the only Master Architect of Alpha Rho Chi not to be a member of the fraternity.
Chapters in Discipline