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UCLA Architecture and Urban Design is a leading player on the international stage of contemporary architecture. Working with world-class faculty from established Pritzker Prize winners to the upstarts of tomorrow, our students integrate the most creative approaches to design, advanced developments in technology, and rigorous approaches to architectural thought available today.
Using Los Angeles, one of the world’s greatest 21st century cities as model, laboratory and provocation, innovative programs give students the means and the vision to enter contemporary design culture as architects, urbanist thinkers and critics.
Our senior design faculty is among the most progressive in understanding and exemplifying these transformations: Thom Mayne, Greg Lynn, Neil Denari, Craig Hodgetts, and Mark Mack. In analyzing history and theory as they impact architecture and urban design and contribute to the understanding of visual culture, we are further strengthened by the internationally recognized contributions of Sylvia Lavin, Dana Cuff, and Diane Favro.
A.UD offers four distinct graduate degrees, two professional and two academic. The Master of Architecture I (M.Arch.I) degree is a three-year professional program that provides a comprehensive education in Architecture. The M.Arch.I program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). M.Arch.I students may also complete a concurrent degree with Urban Planning. The one-year Master of Architecture II (M.Arch.II) degree provides a second, advanced professional degree combining theoretical studies and practical applications in specialized areas. Students enrolling in the M.Arch.II program usually hold a professional five-year undergraduate degree in architecture or the equivalent.
Academic degrees offered by the Department include the two-year Master of Arts (M.A.) degree, which prepares students for research and teaching in fields related to architecture and urban design. The Ph.D. is an advanced research degree organized around the interests of the faculty. The length of time to completion averages six years of study.
Within these degree options there are various areas of concentration: design, technology, and critical studies in architectural culture. The Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees best accommodate specialization in the academic aspects of the architectural discipline.
UCLA now offers an undergraduate degree (BA in Architectural Studies). The B.A. in Architectural Studies is a two-year major that begins in the junior year of residence. The sequence of courses designed for this degree meets two objectives. The first provides an understanding of architecture and urban design as a humanist discipline, which engages cultural and social studies, and the history of architecture and cities. The second provides—at the same time for those interested students—a preparation for accelerated graduate professional studies.
Our unsurpassed design faculty has developed a curriculum that focuses on formal research and experimentation, insisting that architecture and urban design proactively respond to the ever-shifting contemporary world. During the past few decades, profound social changes, technological innovations, and a new global environment have radically challenged traditional models of the profession. Design is not only the primary activity of the professional architect and 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, which is situated in social, political and technological contexts. Students are encouraged to develop design expertise, as well as understand architecture and urban design in relation to their widest cultural implications. This view permits students to fully investigate their field and to deploy its potential with the greatest strategic effect.
The Department emphasizes the relationships between form, technique, manufacturing, environment, and context and seeks to discern in them the underlying principles of organization. Courses in new types of building construction, computational design, theories of architecture and urbanism are 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 massive extensions of infrastructure that establish links between buildings and cities, interiors and landscapes, regions and the global condition. 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 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 of 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 and Television, 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 offer a particular focus in Critical Studies.
The M.A. and Ph.D. programs aim to guide students toward original research in the critical studies of architectural culture. These programs encourage 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. The core of the program is a four-course sequence that trains students in the techniques and territories of architectural studies and their historiographies. The initial three seminars—Critical Studies 1, Critical Studies 2, and Critical Studies 3—introduce students to key issues in the field and are offered during the first year of study. A yearlong course taught collectively by the Critical Studies faculty is recommended for the second year of study. This final Critical Studies Seminar is conceived as a mini-colloquium in which students offer their own research for debate and discussion. While enrolled in the core program, students take other electives in the Department and across the University. The program culminates in a thesis or dissertation that contributes to the discourse on architecture and demonstrates an understanding of architecture’s structural and ideological role in the production of culture. This document is written under the close supervision of a faculty advisor. The program is distinguished by its frank engagement with current architectural debate and practices, and by its commitment to rigorous scholarship.
Students interested in visualization, VR modeling, historical reconstructions, and related areas may apply for internships, jobs, and training at the Experiential Technology Center (ETC) directed by A.UD Professor Diane Favro. ETC encourages interdisciplinary research through technology-mediated collaboration focusing on visualization, sound, temporalization, spatialization and other sensorial factors. In addition, the Center investigates and promotes educational applications, grant acquisition, and distribution of production-quality applications and software.
Technology continues to be one of the most transformative influences in the contemporary world, and UCLA gives architecture and urban design students 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. In addition to training 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 asks leading engineers and architectural technologists to take time out from their practices to teach about innovative developments in their fields.
UCLA is unique in providing both the intellectual and the technical resources needed to explore a wide range of design and computation issues, with a particular focus on the impact of the computer on the manufacturing process, environmental and sustainable design, and new techniques of visualization, from CAD to virtual reality. 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.
The Department is not currently accepting doctoral applications in the area of Technology.