Architecture + Urbanism

With a group of active practitioners composing the core of the design faculty, Architecture + Urbanism at MIT is centered on contemporary practice. We actively pursue interdisciplinary collaboration, being keenly aware of the necessity to learn and borrow from, as well as to instigate exchange, with other disciplines. Yet we believe the foundational intelligence of architecture should be generated above all from the bottom up and within design itself.

Design today cannot afford not to address contemporary conditions such as climate change, globalization, technology and urbanization. As challenging as this may be, we are committed to investigating how these issues will inform and inspire design, as well as architectural education.

Architectural Design focuses on a broad range of perspectives linking several common concerns: site and context, use and form, building methods and materials, and the role of the architect. We see the architect less as the sole creator of an autonomous building than as a collaborator in shaping the physical environment.

Studios of increasing complexity form the core of the Architecture Design curriculum. Introductory studios, taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, provide a basic foundation and vocabulary for architectural design. For undergraduates, they help students decide whether they want to continue in architecture. Intermediate studios provide a range of experience of form-making, offering students the opportunity to learn from individual faculty members' particular approaches to exploring design issues. Advanced studios allow graduate students to sharpen their skills and develop their own approaches toward form-making. In their theses, students carry a project of their own from concept through theory and design to a final product.

Architectural Design offers a host of opportunities for students to engage and learn from faculty beyond the studio. Workshops, lectures, seminars, and research projects are just some of the ways that Architectural Design engages the built environment, the forces that mold it, and the design process itself. Our faculty undertake a wide variety of projects and research areas such as large-scale physical planning, behavioral studies, environmental programming, the form and evaluation of cities, computation and design, architectural theory and design methodology, decision making procedures in design, housing and settlement forms in developing countries, self-help processes, and design in non-Western cultures.

Students also have the opportunity to working with the Joint Program for City Design and Development, as well as the Center for Real Estate. Some students choose to follow a sequence leading to the Urban Design Certificate obtained with their degrees; others choose to extend their study period to seek dual degrees.

Architecture at MIT has a strong commitment to the urban contexts and challenges of design, from core studios to advanced option studios and design workshops in cities around the world. In addition, the Department offers a post-professional masters degree on Architecture+Urbanism (see also the SMARCHS Urbanism webpage). Architecture+Urbanism at MIT has three related meanings: 1) urban cultural change, 2) historical processes of urbanization, and 3) contemporary urban design. Design inquiry links them and is the principal means of advanced research in this field at MIT.