The Urban Design Graduate Research Group promotes critical problem solving at the confluence of two scales: the scale of buildings and the scale of cities.
Straddling the fields of architecture and planning, we critically examine the diverse parameters that impact contemporary urban form, including political, economic, environmental, social, and cultural forces. We investigate how to choreograph and negotiate the competing interests of urban actors and stakeholders in the shaping of urban projects. We work with various urban communities through research, teaching, travel and design-build interventions.
Several recurring themes and issues of the contemporary city remain in focus in both our research and teaching: theories and histories of urban form, techniques of mapping and representation, the challenges of post-industrial and shrinking cities, the local and global impacts of climate change, brownfield remediation and waterfront transformation, infrastructural and ecological urbanism, and questions of preservation and heritage. We address these topics both in the context of emerging mega-regions and traditional cities, as well as through the lenses of transportation, housing, urban institutions and ecology.
We build on the School of Architecture and Planning's legacy of engagement with the city and its urban renaissance. We also engage the US-Canada border, Buffalo-Niagara region, and the Great Lakes as a design laboratory for research and intervention. Established travel programs in the U.S. and abroad offer students the chance to experience urban design within a national and global context—from cross-country domestic tours to studio-based programs centered in rapidly urbanizing regions in China.
As a sequence of offerings within the school’s professional Master of Architecture program, students enrolled in the group will build on their existing knowledge and skill sets in representation and design. Students work closely with faculty in research-driven studios integrated with carefully coordinated seminars. In the final year, students have the opportunity to pursue a master’s thesis that engages independent interests, preparing our graduates for diverse careers that advance a thoughtful integration of architecture and urbanism.