Depending upon their previous education, students enter the Master of Architecture program for either a full sequence of three years or, with advanced standing, begin in the second year of this sequence. The curriculum of required and elective courses includes design studios, architectural history and theory, building technologies, structures, representation, and professional practice. Design studios, which are at the heart of the program, follow a sequence of increasing complexity, proceeding from the basic elements of architecture, to buildings, and finally to the city.
In the first semester students are introduced to the history of architecture through precedent study and by an introduction to the elements that comprise a building. Studio projects focus on the design of the fundamental elements of architecture—walls, doors, windows, stairs, rooms—and also on developing students’ core communication skills—verbal, graphic, and written. Students will be asked to consider fundamental questions: What is an enclosure? What is an opening? How do the two interact and mutually define each other? How do materiality and construction methods inform design? The first semester brings all of these elements together in the design of a small structure.
Expanding scale and context, the second semester of the program introduces students to the fundamental aspects of building—space, structure, materials—which are explored through designing a small house in the city. Students begin by researching historical precedents and analyzing how the concept of living in the city has changed over time, and proceed with a study of contemporary issues and building methods that will inform their design. This period concludes with an exercise in imagining the home of the future. Driven by informed speculation, we ask: How will changing demographics and family patterns affect the future of domestic life? What impact will climate change have on how we house ourselves?
In the third semester students move beyond the single building to consider the spaces between buildings, infrastructural elements, and neighborhoods. More complex sites and programs are introduced through the study of mixed-use buildings with hybrid structures and projects comprised of multiple building elements. Students explore the architect’s role in the making of a neighborhood and end with a project considering the neighborhood of the future.
Students are introduced to contemporary building practices in a more in-depth manner during the fourth semester in comprehensive building design studios that stress the integration of structure, envelope, and building systems. Studio projects are large institutional buildings in the city with more complex programs. Students are asked to consider the nature of how such institutions interface with the urban environment. How does the institution engage with and shape the city? What urban possibilities are altered or activated by its presence?
The final year of the Master program asks students to speculate on the future of the city through advanced, research-based urban design studios that focus on the emerging issues of the global city. In this year, students are presented with a variety of studio options to choose from, and in the final semester work side-by-side with advanced students from the Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Science, Master of Landscape Architecture, and Ph.D. programs in speculating on the future of the urban condition. (Students wishing to continue with more advanced work on these topics may apply for the Master of Science program.)