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M.S. Architecture and Urban Design


The Urban Design Program is a three-semester degree in the multidisciplinary study of cities, regions, infrastructures, and ecosystems. The program focuses on the city as an agent of resilient change and on the role of design in redefining the twenty-first century urban landscape, advancing new paradigms of research, practice, and pedagogy to meet the challenges of climate change, rapid urbanization, and social inequality. Students and faculty in the MSAUD program work to integrate and underscore the essential links between public space, social justice, and ecological systems. The program asks the venerable and necessarily shifting question: what is “the good city?”— reframing the city not as a fixed, delimited territory but as a gradient of varied landscapes supported by uneven networks of food, energy, resources, culture, transportation, and capital.

The MSAUD program is open to both pre- and post-professional students, and encourages applications from a range of backgrounds yet focused on the questions and possibilities of the changing field of urban design. All applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university by the time they start the M.S. AUD program. Please note that the MSAUD is not a professional architecture degree and does not in itself qualify for licensure.

The MSAUD program is a designated STEM program eligible under the CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) Code 04.0902: Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology. Learn more about STEM designation.

The MSAUD program encourages students to critically confront planetary urbanization via applied and on-site research that advances the idea of urban design as an inclusive, activist, tools-based project for specific sites and communities and as a critical project examining urban form, knowledge, and research processes. A sign of the program’s success is its strong, catalytic alumni working globally and across disciplines, institutions, and communities to help create robust and equitable places to live.

The Urban Design program’s curriculum balances the need for shared and specialized knowledge with individual student research interests. The core of the program is the three-semester sequence of studios.

Summer Studio I is foundational and addresses the experimental, representational, and constructive aspects of urban design as a process. The studio frames the Five Boroughs of New York City as a learning lab, an aggregate of socio-spatial tensions, an archive of biophysical infrastructures, and an evolving set of lived experiences.

Fall Studio II expands in scope to consider the city-region, examining large scale interdependencies, interactions, and conflicts. Studio research addresses the particular conditions of American city-regions (previously, the Hudson Valley, currently the Atlanta region) in which shifting ecological, infrastructural, financial, racial, and social conditions call for new strategies for action.

Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous studio work to include the challenges and scales of the climate emergency, examining physical and social infrastructures, new visions of programmatic intervention, and robust community, governmental and NGO partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.

The Summer semester consists of four courses (including studio) that operate intellectually and methodologically as an integrated curriculum focusing on the New York metropolitan region. All work is based on the coordinated learning of concepts, working methods, historical and theoretical frameworks, research protocols, and representational strategies. Faculty roles overlap, courses and subjects mix, and design agendas are tested in various settings. This teaching model demonstrates how Urban Design weaves together varied tasks of storytelling, community engagement, site survey and mapping, film making and digital visualization, and 3D modeling, all of which enable students to create urban knowledge and to iterate, represent and communicate design strategies.

During the Fall and Spring Semesters students take (in addition to Studio II and Studio III), several required seminars in Urban Design as well as required electives at GSAPP or the University. (See degree requirements). The array of seminars and electives asks that students create their own focus in Urban Design, in other words, shaping an agenda, or set of concerns, or a subject area to create a unique experience in Urban Design pedagogy.

Professor Kate Orff, Urban Design Program Director and principal of Scape, discusses rewilding on the At a Distance podcast as one tool among many for restoring ecological infrastructure, oysters as engineering assistants in preventing coastal flooding, and other out-of-the-box solutions local and federal authorities should be considering before the next hurricane hits.

Listen to more podcasts from the Urban Design program by following UD Sessions: The Expanded Field of Urban Design, a series of conversations with urban designers around the globe, who graduated from or taught at GSAPP’s Urban Design program. By discussing their current work and reflecting on how their experience at GSAPP shaped their thinking about design, cities, and politics, the series explores the ways in which the field of urban design expanded since its emergence. Hosted by Faculty Kaja Kühl and Grahame Shane.

Summer 2021 Urban Design Lecture Series
Javier Vergara Petrescu

Learn more about the event.

Current Faculty
Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic
Deborah Helaine Morris

Summer 2024 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4528‑1 Summer 2024
Digital Techniques
Adriana Chavez, Chris Landau, Donnal Baijnauth
F 1 PM - 4 PM
3 Points
A4685‑1 Summer 2024
Urban Theory + Design in Post Industrial Age
Noah Chasin, Joseph Huennekens, Pedro Leonardo Ramos Pastrana
114 AVERY + 408, 409, 412 for DISC.
W 10 AM - 12 PM | DISCUSSION SESSIONS 12:30-1:30, 1:30 - 2:30
3 Points
A6824‑1 Summer 2024
Reading NY Urbanism
Justin Davidson, Jesse Hirakawa
TU 11 AM - 1PM
3 Points
A6849‑1 Summer 2024
Urban Design Studio 1
Nans Voron, Sagi Golan, Sean Gallagher, Daphne Lundi, Grant McCracken, Austin Sakong, Ankita Chachra, Mario Ulloa
M + TH 3 PM - 8 PM
9 Points


Jun 17
Urca ziad lecture
Faculty Ziad Jamaleddine delivers lecture, “Al-Jami: Physical and Spiritual Orientations” at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
May 30
Carmelo ignaccolo 2023 1
Carmelo Ignacollo '17 MSAUD, upon receiving his doctorate from MIT DUSP is awarded the “Outstanding Dissertation Award;” receives Department nomination for the best dissertation in planning among the North American Schools of Planning
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