Architecture + Urbanism

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    MArch Thesis- Fukushima Exclusion Zone Survival Handbook by Mengqiao Zhao

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    Core Studio I- Project by Carolyn Tam

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    Students at work in the fabrication lab

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    Core Studio II- Project by Bella Carmelita Carriker

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    Domo, Structures of Landscape, Tippet Rise Art Center, Fishtail, Montana- Ensamble Studio (Anton Garcia-Abril)

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    Core Studio III- Project by Lauren Gideonse and Calvin Zhong

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    Core Studio II- Project by Inge Donovan

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    Option Studio: Making Ingredients- Project by Olivier Faber

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    Core Studio III- Projects by Tim Cousin, William Marshall, Natalie Pearl, Latifa Alkhayat

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    MArch Thesis Presentations

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    MArch Thesis- Medium Resolution by Gil Sunshine

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    Option Studio: Amazonia- Project by Carol-Anne Rodrigues

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    The past is in the present, Keller Gallery installation- Rosalyne Shieh

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    J. Yolande Daniels, Black City: The Los Angeles EditionThe Museum of Modern Art, 2021. Photo: Germane Barnes


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    Walking Assembly- Brandon Clifford

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    Global Flora Greenhouse (Lafarge Holcim Award)- KVA Matx

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    Play Room, Keller Gallery installation- Ana Miljački / Critical Broadcasting Lab


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. 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.

See Graduate Programs for degree requirements.

SMArchS Design

The Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) is a two-year program of advanced study founded on research and inquiry in architecture as a discipline and as a practice. The program is intended both for students who already have a professional degree in architecture and those interested in advanced non-professional graduate study.

The Design program offers both a theoretical foundation in the history and development of architectural design pedagogy and praxis and a platform for applied research into new design methodologies. To nurture independent theses related to the notion of design, the program aims to equip students with a critical understanding of different modes of creative synthetic production with particular focus on emerging modes of design activity, conceptual or technical, and on the potential for radicalizing current modes of architectural and building praxis.

The program encourages interdisciplinary engagement with other areas of specialist research within the Department and across the entire Institute, seeking to benefit from the remarkable academic and research environment of MIT. We see Design as a potentially integrative activity and support work that is collaborative or that bridges to other domains of knowledge.

The rich graduate design studios and workshops in the Architecture Department and Media Lab are open to SMArchS students, but the program intends to offer a distinctly post-graduate opportunity for individual design enquiry structured by seminars and lectures that give critical depth to such independent research work.

SMArchS Urbanism

The Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) is a two-year program of advanced study founded on research and inquiry in architecture as a discipline and as a practice. The program is intended both for students who already have a professional degree in architecture and those interested in advanced non-professional graduate study.

Architecture and Urbanism is a special program for students interested in the development of critical urban design, as well as its history and theory. Consciously locating itself in the contemporary debate about what constitutes good city form with expansive metropolitan regions and systems of cities, the program teaches students to develop articulate and intellectually grounded positions. Students are expected to interrogate current positions within the field in order to explore critical alternatives to existing paradigms of urbanism. The assumption is that design inquiry is an intellectual act with the capacity to yield both critique and alternative possibilities.

The program aims to nurture well-versed, intellectually-robust, and historically-conscious architects who understand the relationship between architecture and urbanism, not as a question of taste and fashion, but as form, process, and associated socio-culturalwith meaning. The program emphasizes a unique combination of both design and scholarship. Our students are unique in their capacity to relate to both. The particular interests of faculty and students may vary, but the goal is always the achievement of the most advanced and effective methods of shaping the form, sustainability, and social condition of the built environment. The design, theory, and elective subjects are also formulated in support of this goal.

The first year of the program builds a student’s foundation with a required sequence of two studios and two theory courses. All incoming students participate in an introductory urban design studio in the fall, and a choice of urban design studio options in the spring. A course in urban design theory is taught in the fall and theory of city form in the spring. In the fall of second year, students take a thesis preparation course and have the option of enrolling in a third studio course. All students complete a master’s thesis. Students may tailor their work to a diverse array of interests, and are encouraged to engage intellectually with surrounding disciplines.


As the first program of its kind in the United States, the professional degree program at MIT also has a particular responsibility to the future. Defined by the intersection of design and research, our professional program serves as a laboratory for all the innovation and scholarship within the department — while also serving as a laboratory for the future of architectural education itself.

In this laboratory, our students are leaders. The small size of MIT’s MArch program, with 25 students in each class, allows for unique trajectories through MIT, into the profession of architecture and beyond. The program’s size also ensures that our experiments together are conducted in an atmosphere of engaged debate—with ourselves, with guests, and with the larger communities which we serve. As well as within the classroom, this culture extends through public lectures and programs within the department, the School of Architecture and Planning and all of MIT, with students curating the most agile platforms for dialogue.

Though it feeds on everything that surrounds it, the MArch laboratory derives its energy from its key testing ground: the studio. Studio is a key site of iterative, embodied, design learning, where cultural meaning animates methods and materials with urgency. MIT’s MArch studio sequence is both surrounded by and infused with deep disciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking, sometimes in support of, and other times deliberately at odds with, studio concerns. It comprises three distinct units: (3) Core Studios, (3) Research Studios and a Thesis Project.

The collective mission of the three Core studios is to offer fundamental architectural methods to the students, while opening up a series of different entries into the vocation of an architect, such that students can begin to develop their own positions and become well versed at initiating other entries and paths through the discipline. Each of the Core studios is oriented toward the contemporary conversations and the future of the discipline. Which means that they are constantly updated. Though each of them delimits a different set of cultural, technical and disciplinary issues, together they deliver approaches, attitudes and questions that we deem essential for students who are establishing their own research projects and agenda.

For a large part of the population of every incoming class of MArch students, these three studios will be the first experiences in navigating uncertainty in the creative process, the exhilaration of giving form to ideas, imagining material assemblies with specific properties, and searching for the appropriate ways to align architecture’s agency with their own cultural and social ambitions. These will be experienced with increasing levels of control throughout our creative lives. Enabling a lifelong process of iteration and experimentation is the underlying ethos of all three core studios.

Following Core, the Research Studios offer an array of topics at scales that range from 1:1 experimentation in assembly to the geographic scale. They fit, though never neatly, into several categories of inquiry: architectural, which includes design of buildings and urban life; urban, which includes design of landscape, territories and the urban fabric); and cross studios, which focus on interdisciplinary topics and open up the possibilities for the final deliverables of the studio to take place in various media suited to the focus of their research.

Seminars and Lecture courses drill down into historical and disciplinary expertise, which contextualize, challenge and sometimes enable studio’s instrumental thinking, while Workshops provide a platform for faster, more discrete experimentation than is normally conducted in studios. All of these are mechanisms by which faculty involve students into the deep depths of their own research.

The Thesis semester caps the MArch studio sequence. It provides to students a precious and sustained space for their own experimentation with framing the terms of engagement with the world. The size of the program becomes relevant here once again. Many forms and formats of work are possible for this self-directed project; a student could choose to see their contribution at this stage as feeding into a larger project already well under way in the department, or one of the labs currently operating, or as a more intimate dialogue with individual faculty. The buzz, the energy, and the production that take place during the MArch thesis ferment into material artifacts, processes, statements—knowledge—that probes the edges of architecture. The final Thesis presentation, set to be the last event of the semester, is when the faculty involved in the MArch program together with students and guest critics celebrate our students’ ideas, risks taken, decisions made in the course of their thesis projects, and all those yet to come.

MIT Architecture + Urbanism Playlist