The University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture began as a department of the College of Engineering in June 1930. Fr. Roque Ruaño (who designed the monumental Main Building) was, from 1931-1934, the acting director of the department. From among the twenty students enrolled to the new program, only six successfully finished the four-year course. Today, the average enrolment to the college every academic year is 2,100 with about 250 students graduating yearly.
In 1935, the Department of Fine Arts was added to the Architecture Department. Then in 1938, the department was elevated to the status of School of Architecture and Fine Arts by Father Rector Silvestre Sancho, O.P. Prof. Victorio Edades served as the Director from 1934-1941.
When the university re-opened after the Second World War, the School of Architecture and Fine Arts resumed its operations at the UST gymnasium and then moved to a small wooden shack (popularly quonset hut and where the College of Education Building now stands) that were used as barracks by World War II prisoners. In 1946, Father Rector Jordan, O.P., raised the school to a full-fledged college and appointed Architect Julio Victor Rocha (one of the first graduates of the Department of Architecture) as its first Dean.
With the tremendous increase in enrollment, Dean Rocha together with Father Rector Angel de Blas planned and carried out the construction of the three-story building for the Faculty of Engineering and the College of Architecture in 1950. (The the three-story building still stands today and is occupied by the Faculty of Engineering.) By then, the Departments of Interior Design and Advertising Arts have been created under the Department of Painting.
In 1967, a five-story wing of the Engineering-Architecture Building was constructed at the back of the first one. The college occupied the upper three floors of the building. Then, in 2000, the former College of Architecture and Fine Arts separated into College of Architecture and College of Fine Arts and Design. In 2002, the two colleges transferred to the Beato Angelico Building (formerly the site of the UST Press).
At present, the UST College of Architecture continues to sustain its commitment in producing the best and the brightest in the field of architecture and the allied profession: building construction, town and urban planning, real estate development, interior design, furniture design, etc. Further to this, our graduates have found their niches nationally and internationally in numerous other fields like mass media, journalism, the fine arts, the religious order, and many more. Indeed, our graduates’ talent and expertise have gone beyond our shores.
But above all, the College’s distinction as the foremost school of architecture is affirmed by the conferment on its two illustrious graduates the title National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture, the highest national honor that can be bestowed on a Filipino who has made a significant contribution to the development of Philippine arts: Leandro V. Locsin and (1990) Ildefonso P. Santos (2006).