Program Description

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The Master of Urban Design is a three (optional four), 36 credit program that provide students with a design experience that investigates the guiding principles for designing regions, cities, and communities. Guided by the imperatives of sustainabilty and resilience, the program conceptualizes cities as an extension of the ecological transect across the natural to human habitat, providing students with a range of experiences from rural to urban.

Program Director Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, recognized for her foundational role in the development of the movement called the New Urbanism, leads the program that invites students to explore design, policy and management tools for place-making as a vehicle for improving quality of life in a variety of urban settings.  The impact of the built environment on health, retrofitting the suburban landscape, real estate development as community building, adaptation to climate change, and urban growth and revitalization, are topics prominent in course offerings and faculty research.

The three-semester curriculum begins in the fall each year with foundation courses in urban design and real estate development, in an Interdisciplinary approach structured by environmental, social and economic goals.  The spring semester intensifies students’ engagement with contemporary urban challenges such as climate resilience, healthy community design, and repair of suburban sprawl.  The summer semester provides a concluding experience that aggregates prior topics in an international setting that challenges goals of sustainability and resource conservation. 

As part of the curriculum, students participate in the National Charrette Institute certification course, a training in public outreach and participatory planning. They also collaborate with real estate development students in two special projects: a national design and development competition, and a local community revitalization plan.  These experiences and the course work shared with the Master of Real Estate Development and Urbanism program provide focus on implementation.

The optional fourth semester of the Master of Urban Design program is a semester-long independent study design project or thesis.  In recent years these have focused on topics such as greening a Brazilian city, socially integrated public housing in China, and an analysis of principles and metrics of Smart Cities and New Urbanism. 

Other resources that enrich the urban design student’s experience in the School include the Center for Community and Urban Design (CUCD), engaging students in community outreach projects in South Florida and the Caribbean, and access to the Archive of the New Urbanism, housed in the School of Architecture Library. The Archive is a growing resource of documents, with both texts and images that support research related to urban design housed in the School of Architecture. Also, Research Affiliates from around the world join the faculty annually to study the state-of-the-art in urban design and architecture.

Guiding the ever-evolving program are faculty members internationally recognized in research, publication and design.

While the Master of Urban Design is a post-professional program, structured for students with a professional degree in architecture, those holding a degree in engineering, planning or landscape architecture may apply for admission. A preparatory summer course may be required for non-architects, to be determined during the admission process.