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MArch Curriculum

Year 1: Discipline

The MArch program starts with an intensive 10-day workshop that is required for all incoming MArch students, and is designed to provide students with the necessary preparation to begin full-time graduate study.  This time is used to build on critical thinking skills, which helps students enter studio ready to start working. The workshop is provided to support students in their transition into graduate school.

The first year studio sequence introduces the knowledge and experience of architectural discipline. Discipline establishes identity and enables variation: the set of concepts, techniques and modes of operating that constitute the field at any point in time, and the manners of unfolding its historical potentials and contemporary opportunities in alternative ways. Discipline is established through repetition, the source of both significance and newness in architecture. As an instigator of qualities and an organizer of quantities, the architectural discipline is an exercise in both control and power.

Fall: Control of Qualities

Introduction to architecture as a function of technique and geometry, beginning with an understanding of scale, proportion, and formal organization.

Spring: Power over Quantities

Introduction to architecture as a function of polemic and scenario, beginning as a confrontation with size, number and activity.

Year 2: Conditions

The second year subjects the disciplinary techniques and approaches of the first year to a set of external contexts and conditions of particular importance to the School: the city and technology. As a corollary to this work, one objective across the year is to develop the ability to communicate with diverse audiences: both distilling and projecting information and identity from multiple programs and publics (fall), and issuing instructions and specifications to contractors and collaborators (spring).

Fall: Comprehensive Design (Technology)

Integrating design and architectural technology, this housing studio takes building codes, structural and mechanical systems, and material lifecycles as generative design parameters to achieve the scale of detail development and the representational level of construction documents.

Spring: Synthetic Design (Urbanism)

This urban design studio addresses the issue of contemporary collective space through the development of a large, mixed-use complex on an urban site.

Year 3: Position

While the first year projects are largely abstract and the second year sited in Chicago, the third year transports disciplinary lessons and opportunities elsewhere. Architectural and urban design and research agendas of current significance are explored with distinguished visiting faculty (e.g., the Greenwald Visiting Professor) and defined as the result of a year-long course of study (consisting of a fall seminar and spring studio) in a research cluster geared toward publishing its findings and proposals.

Fall: Topic Studios

These option studios provide the opportunity to work on a contemporary architectural and/or urban design problem through the lens of an internationally-recognized instructor.

Spring: Research Project

Individual and collaborative design-research that addresses concerns at the edge of the contemporary discipline and results from a year-long course of study.


MArch Curriculum Matrix

Spring 2020 Studio Descriptions