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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 M.S.AUD 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 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.

PODCAST CONVERSATIONS

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.


In this eleventh episode of GSAPP Conversations, Professor and Urban Design Program 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 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

Summer 2022 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4528‑1 Summer 2022
Digital Techniques
Richard Chou, Adriana Chavez, Chris Landau
114 AVERY
F 1 PM - 4 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
12428
A4685‑1 Summer 2022
Urban Theory + Design in Post Industrial Age
Noah Chasin
114 AVERY
W 9 AM - 11 AM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
12429
A6824‑1 Summer 2022
Reading NY Urbanism
Justin Davidson, Jesse Hirakawa
114 AVERY
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
FULL SEMESTER
3 Points
12430
A6849‑1 Summer 2022
Urban Design Studio 1
Nans Voron, Sagi Golan, Galen Pardee, Austin Sakong, Sean Gallagher, Sanjukta Sen, Miriam Peterson, Candelaria Mas Pohmajevic
600N + S AVERY HALL
M, TH 3 PM - 8 PM
FULL SEMESTER
9 Points
12431
A6805‑1 Summer 2022
Mapping and Data
Online
5/31-7/5
0 Points
12460

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