Course Descriptions

A wide range of course offerings at UCLA AUD

Our unsurpassed faculty in design has developed a curriculum that focuses on formal research and experimentation and insists that architecture and urban design respond proactively to the always-shifting contemporary world. During the past few decades, profound social change, significant technological innovations, and a new global environment have radically challenged traditional models for the profession. Design is not only the primary activity of the professional architect or urbanist it is also the intellectual and methodological foundation of the discipline of architecture. Rather than promote design as willful self-expression in the tradition of heroic modernism, the Department seeks to engage students in the thoughtful investigation of form as socially, politically, and technically determined. Students are encouraged to develop design expertise as well as to understand architecture and urban design in relation to their widest cultural implications. This view permits students to investigate fully their field and to deploy its potential with the greatest strategic effect.

The Department emphasizes the relationships between form, technique, manufacture, environment, and context and seeks to discern their underlying principles of organization. Courses in new types of building construction, computational design, theories of architectural and urban form are all brought to bear on studio work. Advanced studios explore special topics in digital design, contemporary urban form, emerging technologies, and other issues. Problems range from small houses developed for local communities to extra large extensions of infrastructure that establish links between buildings and cities, between interiors and landscapes, between regions and the global context. New developments in computer-aided design, modeling, and visualization techniques are particularly emphasized. Through a progressive curriculum that enables students to navigate the complex and interdisciplinary demands of architecture and urbanism, the Department prepares students to be leaders in the professions and discipline of design.

Critical Studies
Critical Studies in architectural culture explores the history, theory, and criticism of architecture and urbanism. Drawing on significant transformations in academic scholarship in recent years, the program is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Developments in visual culture, cultural studies, intellectual history, urban studies, and critical theory have all been incorporated into the program, creating a dynamic and evolving curriculum. A broad range of courses stress the relationship of architecture and urbanism to their cultural, social, political, and technological milieus. Students can concentrate in many areas, including the history of the profession, issues in representation, the history of discourses on architecture and the city, gender analyses, problems in modernization, and contemporary theory. The program has strong affiliations with other departments, including history, art history, art, film, comparative literature, and urban planning, enabling students to develop comprehensive approaches to the study of the field. Of equal importance to Critical Studies in Architectural Culture is its location within a highly active professional program in architecture. Students are encouraged to understand their historical and theoretical work in relation to the current professional, technological, and social concerns of architecture as well as to contemporary design debates. The constant interaction between critical research and new developments in the practice of architecture and urbanism lends the program a distinctive vitality and gives students’ work an exciting urgency.

The M.A. and Ph.D. programs aim to guide students toward original research in the critical studies of architectural culture. The program encourages students to investigate through historical, theoretical, and cultural interrogation issues of importance to the contemporary architectural discipline. Although the primary focus of the curriculum is in modern architecture of the Western world, historical interdisciplinary and cross-cultural subjects are also explored. While enrolled in this core program, students take other electives in the Department and across the University. The program culminates in a thesis or dissertation, written under the close supervision of a faculty advisor, that contributes to the discourse on architecture and demonstrates an understanding of architecture’s structural and ideological role in the production of culture. The program is distinguished by its frank engagement with current architectural debate and practices, and by its commitment to rigorous scholarship.

Technology continues to be one of the most transformative influences in the contemporary world and UCLA gives students of architecture and urban design the opportunity to explore this constantly changing field at the highest level. The impact of the computer on architecture is an especially exciting development and our students leave UCLA well prepared to exploit and benefit from the age of information. Though we train students in the traditional types of building technologies necessary to professional competence, such as structures, construction, environmental technologies, and mechanical systems, we also seek to advance the state of architectural knowledge by undertaking research in emerging technologies. Capitalizing on the rich professional context of Los Angeles, the program  invites leading engineers and architectural technologists to to teach about innovative developments in their fields.

UCLA is unique in providing both the intellectual and the technical resources needed to fully explore a wide range of issues in design and computation. The impact of the computer on the manufacturing process, on environmental and sustainable design, and on new techniques of visualization, from CAD to virtual reality, is our focus. Advanced courses explore special topics in computer-aided design, software development, new modes of manufacture, the use of CNC (computer numerically controlled) milling in the development of building elements, and rapid prototyping. Our expertise in emerging digital technologies and our commitment to understanding these developments in relation to design has permitted UCLA to taking a leading role in defining the next phase of architecture’s technological evolution.

Note: The Department is not currently accepting doctoral applications in the area of Technology.