Master of Architecture


The Master of Architecture is a three-year professional degree, which weaves together the highest level of disciplinary expertise with the critical and technical skills necessary to recast the boundaries of the discipline, building on a long legacy of groundbreaking innovation in the fields of architecture and design.

At Columbia GSAPP, architecture is understood as a form of knowledge situated within a broader context of environmental and global engagement, building on strong historical and theoretical foundations, which are always actively reframing our contemporary cultural condition.

By bringing together a progressive approach to architectural education—where pedagogy is simultaneously rigorously structured with definable objectives and constantly re-examined to respond to ever-changing contexts—the Master of Architecture program creates a sense of openness, inquisitiveness and intellectual generosity that enables individual development and collaborative thinking.

Being part of an elite research university located in a major global city has determined much of what is unique about the architecture program, which means that at Columbia GSAPP, architecture is always understood in relation to its urban and environmental context. In addition to its excellent full time faculty, at once deeply embedded in city and campus life, Columbia GSAPP is also able to draw upon the large and diverse community of architects, theorists, practitioners, and scholars in New York as well as from around the world. Thus the program exposes students to architecture as a complex, and diverse cultural endeavor.

As it seeks to impart basic principles and knowledge, to develop visual and analytical skills, and to relate creativity to given cultural situations, the school offers student-architects the means to use their knowledge and insight to better respond to and improve the built environment, while always contributing to expanding the field of architecture and design in meaningful ways.

The M.Arch curriculum is divided into the study of design, history and theory, technology, visual studies, and professional practice. Learning about architecture involves on the one hand examining the historical, social, cultural, technical, and economic forces that shape buildings, and on the other, mastering these forces with both traditional means as well as cutting edge technologies. The design studio remains the main focus of the curriculum, as it offers the opportunity to integrate and synthesize what is being studied. Around the studio, a variety of conversations are instigated to create a context for students’ learning and investigations while also providing an opportunity to further integrate the various sequences of the M. Arch curriculum.

The Master of Architecture program at GSAPP stresses the importance of understanding and applying architectural concepts in relation to broader historical and contemporary issues. The objective of the program is to enable students to develop a theoretical basis for decision making in design, while maintaining intense exposure to a broad spectrum of philosophical and cultural attitudes.

The Architecture Design Studio integrates the knowledge acquired in the five other areas of studies. The History and Theory Sequence broadens the student’s perceptions through the historical and theoretical examination. The Building Technology Sequence prepares the student to understand the structural, material consequences, and constraints on design decisions. The Visual Studies Sequence provides specialized investigation that complements the normal studio work, including both manual and computer-aided drawing courses. The Professional Practice Sequence prepares the student to undertake management and professional practice activities. The Elective Sequence permits the student to pursue individual interests in architectural and environmental topics.

While the Design Studio sequence is roughly divided between Core and Advanced Studios, the intent is for a gradient from Core to Advanced with every semester offering a combination of both, where small and large, local and global, the aesthetic and the performative, the real and its representation, the urban and the natural are all engaged not in opposition but in conversation, as student explore and redefine architecture as field, network and extended object all at once.

Hilary Sample, Core Design Studios
At Columbia GSAPP, the core design studios introduce students to architecture through an inclusive understanding of history, cities, typology, and performance. Today, students engage the world through the increasingly global information on buildings, materials, structures, digital processes, media, and communications. These digital processes and networks that were once theorized have become a commonplace part of our contemporary world. As a result, architecture is less and less of an exclusive and autonomous profession. These social aspects are perhaps the hardest things to teach within a school, but remain a critical part of the Columbia GSAPP pedagogy.

The core is structured through a sequence of carefully constructed design studios where students increasingly gain new knowledge through making, implementing ideas, and experimenting with the problems of architecture: from form to materials, from small to large scale, and from comfort to environment. Studios explore architecture within urban contexts from New York City and other cities around the world, situating experimental architectural thought within the world-at-large.

Rather than moving from the extra small to the large, the Core sequence builds in the small and the large in relation to one another throughout the first three semesters of the M.Arch sequence. After the first semester’s focus on acquiring analytical and drawing skills, Core II takes as a project the design of an institutional building, and Core III culminates in the Housing Studio. This semester serves as a conclusion to the Core but also as a transition to the Advanced Studios, specifically transitioning to the Scales of Environment. While the studios are structured to present knowledge about fundamentals of architecture as they apply to design, from the scale of a house to that of a building or housing project, the core sequence aims to inspire a shift in thinking about architecture in relation to the world.

1 - UP Project
Fall 2017
M. Arch Core 1 Architecture Studio
UP Project Final Review
David Benjamin, Advanced Design Studios
The Advanced Studios are intended to build upon the ideas and skills developed in the Core Studios, working as laboratories of discussion and exploring new ways of reading every architectural ingredient: concepts, programs, and methods of working. Nearly twenty studios work on the themes and programs defined by their individual critics in the limits of the discipline trying to find new instruments, formats, and approaches to everyday topics. Themes and programs carry both an educational objective and present an opportunity for the critic to develop with his or her students a specific area of work or research. That means that an experimental attitude grounds our environment, while the coexistence of different ways of thinking stimulates dialogue and positive discussions in which the students learn to build, defend, and rectify their arguments in a dialectical practice that is as important as drawing, making a model, or inventing a digital resource. In contradistinction to the Core Studios, the Advanced Studios are open to M. Arch students as well as to the AAD professional degree students.
Studio culture in itself makes up an extraordinary accumulation of essays and research, in both conceptual and disciplinary fields that can be considered a section of the present. We are all aware of this wealth and appreciate the special energy stored in this “white noise” that involves many instructors, TA’s and students working together. Every week, the Transfer Dialogues series makes such intensity visible and available to the academic community of the school, allowing students to access what is going on in other GSAPP Advanced Studios while getting helpful panoramic information. The intention is to open a new space for architecture and its parallel disciplines in the social, political, intellectual and economic arena with a critical position focused on the construction of the future.
Laura Kurgan, Visual Studies
Today, what can be defined as visual in design has multiplied exponentially, especially by way of computation, and demanded that we rethink our pedagogy, projects, and practices. This diversity of the visual and its tendency toward impermanence has not lessened its potential to communicate an extraordinary vision. Through a careful survey of drawing’s new temporal nature, students discover methods to harness drawing’s new potentials. The Visual Studies sequence at the GSAPP offers a wide range of tools and techniques designed to expose students to the potentials and limits of these same techniques and tools. The sequence is divided into three broad sets of workshops: analysis/representation, design environments, and fabrication. The variety of trajectories possible within the sequence of workshops promotes an individual approach to visualization and fosters invention.
Reinhold Martin, History and Theory
The History and Theory curriculum stresses a broad social and cultural approach to architectural history, with particular attention to emerging global concerns. Architectural history is seen in terms of a rich matrix of parameters—political, economic, artistic, technological, and discursive—that have had a role in shaping the discipline. Most instructors of architectural history and theory at GSAPP have both professional and academic degrees. A shared intention is to cultivate relations between practice, historical knowledge, and theoretical debates.
The course offerings are structured to provide each student with an opportunity to gain both a broad general background in architectural history and a degree of specialized knowledge in areas of his or her selection. The two-semester core inaugurates a sequence in which students may then choose from among the many history and theory classes offered within the School. Students may also take courses in other departments of the University, such as art history, history, philosophy, or elsewhere in the humanities, providing they meet basic distribution requirements.
Craig Schwitter, Building Science and Technology
For the next generation of architects, technology has become a greater and more differentiating force than ever before. As computational power increases at exponential rates and data becomes ubiquitous, formal methodologies in architectural design are giving way to an evidence basis. New modes of making in architecture are being disrupted through changes in manufacturing, materials, and information technologies in a globalized world. What bricks and mortar may have been to earlier methods of architecture, today the focus is squarely on performance of design in the built environment. Does design drive greater productivity? A better sense of community and well being? Lower energy use? Less material waste? Broader and shared economic development? The subjective narratives of decades past on these subjects are today turning into data and hard facts. Performance and its measurement and verification have become a function of an architecture searching for the right solutions.

Urban conditions continue to drive discourse on the global stage. As cities grow globally and see the effects of unprecedented migration, the effects of design are ever present. Scarcity of resources, driven by rapid population growth and demographic change, need to be addressed head on by the architectural community. Energy and it efficient performance in buildings has become the critical issue across architecture to address the questions of global climate change. And even while working harder inside the building construct, architects must think outside the building boundary, to wider notions of integration in systems including water, transportation, waste, and energy. These are the pieces of a global puzzle that will be waiting for them as they graduate.

The technology sequence is fundamental to changing the course of architecture. It is an integral part of the school and part of the training for the next generation of architects that will shape our built environment. Students must explore and experiment as always, but realize that abilities to rationalize and prove are more interconnected with design as it touches every aspect of development across the world.

Current Faculty
Olga Aleksakova
Mark Anderson
José Aragüez
William Arbizu
Erieta Attali
Nitzan Bartov
Aaron Berman
Stella Betts
Ezio Blasetti
Joseph Brennan
Laurel Broughton
Julia Burdova
Benjamin Cadena
Iñaqui Carnicero
Tei Carpenter
Mark Collins
Robert Condon
Phillip Crupi
Jason Danforth
Leigha Dennis
Anna Dietzsch
Nicole Dosso
Yasser Elsheshtawy
Adam Frampton
Jared Friedman
Douglas Gauthier
Toru Hasegawa
Robert Heintges
Robert Herrmann
Nahyun Hwang
Brandt Knapp
Amy Lelyveld
Giuseppe Lignano
Stephanie Lin
Robert Marino
Jacqueline Martinez
Rustam Mehta
Anton Nelson
Carrie Norman
Davidson Norris
Toshihiro Oki
Alessandro Orsini
Ilias Papageorgiou
Daniel Perlin
Silvia Prandelli
Anna Puigjaner
Michael Rock
Rachely Rotem
Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo
Yehuda Safran
Victoria Sanger
Martino Stierli
Salim Tamari
Dimitra Tsachrelia
Marc Tsurumaki
Shanta Tucker
Michael Vahrenwald
David van der Leer
David Wallance
Lindsey Wikstrom
Chris Woebken
Alexander Wood
Lydia Xynogala
Andrea Zanderigo
Emmett Zeifman

Summer 2019 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A6900‑1 Summer 2019
Research I
Danielle Smoller Independent Study
2-3 Points
A4050‑1 Summer 2019
Arch Elective Internship
1.5 Points
P4050‑1 Summer 2019
UP Elective Internship
1.5 Points
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