The Master of Arts in Design Criticism (MAD-Crit) is a two-year program that develops textual and visual argumentation in the areas of architecture, urbanism, landscape, and allied design practices. With the seemingly limitless expansion of design techniques and productive capacities today, there exists a new urgency for a parallel polemics that can contribute the conceptual armature and directives for the immediate future of design culture.
Revolving around intensive writing seminars and publication workshops, the ambition of the program is unabashedly operative: i.e., it is driven by the practice of writing and the demand to inject argument immediately into diverse media of communication. This operative orientation is accelerated by being situated within a School of Architecture focused on contemporary design, and through the program's overlapping coursework with the MArch and MS programs, such as participation in its research studios and publications.
Today, architecture and its corollary design fields have become increasingly compelled toward academic and professional specialization. While producing important scholarly and technical advances, this context has undermined if not obliterated the potential role for those invested in design culture as public intellectual. The MAD-Crit program aims to recover this generalist role that has been lost in the proliferation of doctoral programs and software niches. Taking advantage of its location in a major American metropolis and at public research university, the MAD-Crit program is particularly well-situated to solicit and expand the audience for design criticism and reposition the significance of design in public discourse. Moreover, as the product of design competitions are increasingly gravitating to books and arguments, the program understands criticism broadly to include proactive design propositions. At UIC, criticism serves as an invitation for new practices rather than a retrospective calling out of existing ones; it is a platform for future production. The MAD-Crit program is committed to empowering a new generation of idea activists for the discipline.