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M.S. Architecture and Urban Design

Overview
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 are united in their attempt 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 networks of food, energy, resources, culture, transportation, and capital.
The 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.
Curriculum
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. The 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, examining biophysical infrastructures, conflicting public and private interests, and ongoing socio-spatial change. The Fall Studio II expands its scope to consider the city-region, examining large scale interdependencies and interactions. Studio research addresses the particular conditions of American city-regions (currently, the Hudson Valley) in which shifting ecological, topographical, infrastructural, demographic, and social conditions call for new strategies for systemic action. The final Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous work on variously-scaled physical and social infrastructures, programmatic interventions, and community partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.
Studios

The studio sequence runs adjacent to a number of required and elective courses that develop skills in spatial analysis, critical thinking, research methods, and visualization techniques—and that enable students to rigorously propose urban change in any number of capacities. Elective courses, encouraged at GSAPP and other schools at the university, address the specific and varied problems, facets, and processes of urbanization—from human rights to agricultural policy to systems of finance. Throughout the interwoven studio-seminars sequence, projects emphasize a multi-scalar approach to site and program, embracing local, regional, and global scales and advancing the role of the urban designer as a thoughtful practitioner entangled with a diverse set of actors and existing conditions, and crucial to the implementation of imagined futures.

Studio I

The Summer semester consists of four courses 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 precedents, research protocols, and representational strategies. Faculty and associates overlap, courses and subjects mix, and design agendas are tested in various settings. This teaching model demonstrates how Urban design can weave together varied tasks of storytelling, community engagement, site survey and interpretation, filmmaking, digital visualization, mapping, and 3D modeling, all of which enable students to create urban knowledge and to iterate, represent and communicate design ideas.

Studio II

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

Studio III

The final Spring Studio III takes on problems of global urbanization, extending previous work on variously-scaled physical and social infrastructures, programmatic interventions and community partnerships. The studio typically travels to two cities, working in close cooperation with local partners and organizations.

In this eleventh episode of GSAPP Conversations, Urban Design Director Kate Orff joins Dean Amale Andraos to discuss what it means to think across scales and connect our human life with the geological time scale, how traveling international studios allow students to better address challenges shared by otherwise very different cities, and teaching the reciprocity of physical design and social context.

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 Kaja Kühl and Grahame Shane.

Urban Design at GSAPP
Alumni from the Urban Design Program at Columbia University GSAPP share their experience. Recorded at the occasion of the 2017 symposium “UD Sessions: The Expanded Field of Urban Design” Listen to the related podcast series here
Current Faculty

Fall 2019 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A6830‑1 Fall 2019
Difference and Design
Justin Moore
203 FAYERWEATHER
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41489
A6832‑1 Fall 2019
Toward Resilient Cities and Landscapes
Kate Orff
WARE LOUNGE
TU 3 PM - 5 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41490
A6837‑1 Fall 2019
Fabrics and Typologies: NY/Global
Richard Plunz CAP 22
409 AVERY HALL
W 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41491
A6850‑1 Fall 2019
The Climate Crisis—Imagining a Green New Deal in the Hudson Valley
Kaja Kühl Syllabus
206 FAYERWEATHER
M & TH 1:30 - 6:30; F 3 PM - 5 PM
FULL SEMESTER
9 Points
41408
A4399‑1 Fall 2019
Metropolitan Sublimes
Sandro Marpillero
408 AVERY HALL
TU 1 PM - 3 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41456
A4987‑1 Fall 2019
Architectural Photography: From the Models to the Built World
Michael Vahrenwald
115 AVERY HALL
F 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
10172
A4989‑1 Fall 2019
Realtime
Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Greg Schleusner
504 AVERY
TH 7 PM - 9 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
15482
A6448‑1 Fall 2019
Program (Theories)
Enrique Walker
300 BUELL SOUTH
F 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41561
A6857‑1 Fall 2019
Measuring the Great Indoors
Violet Whitney, Gabrielle Brainard
505 AVERY
TU 7 PM - 9 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
10459
A6867‑1 Fall 2019
Babel
Kyle Dugdale
408 AVERY HALL
W 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
15294
A4892‑1 Fall 2019
Data Visualization for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
Jia Zhang All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
408 AVERY HALL
F 9 AM -11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
15270
A6785‑1 Fall 2019
Theory of City Form
Vishaan Chakrabarti All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
209 FAYERWEATHER
F 11 AM -1 PM
FULL SEMSTER
3 Points
41412
A4861‑1 Fall 2019
Footprint: Carbon and Design
David Benjamin
115 AVERY
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
17879
A6783‑1 Fall 2019
Narrative Urbanism: Strategic Storytelling For Designers and Planners
Cassim Shepard All GSAPP Interdisciplinary
115 AVERY HALL
F 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
41474
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