Urban Design

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The Master of Urban Design (M.U.D.) is an advanced, interdisciplinary program of study that focuses on contemporary challenges of urbanism at local, regional and global scales.  Courses are taught by faculty from Architecture, Community and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture; with an understanding that urban environments should be engaged through an integrated design process that includes ecological, social, material, economic, and urban policy factors.

The urban design degree reflects a deep commitment to resilient urban environments within the context of an increasingly concentrated, connected and, diverse urban world. Accordingly, the coursework engages emerging urbanization topics including:

  • The formation of more adaptable, flexible and resilient cities;
  • the exponential growth of megacities and steady decline of investments in traditional urban economies in the twenty-first century;
  • The transformation of Industrial landscapes, particularly within the Midwestern context, and the global impact of transnational economic operations.
  • the spatialization of informal economies, practices, and services across the south-north global divide;
  • and, a reexamination of the potentials of hard and soft infrastructures, principles of the circular economy and a reframing of the urban-rural divide.

The program consists of 30 credits, typically distributed over three semesters (fall, spring and summer), however, students may choose to distribute these credits over four or five semesters. The degree is geared toward students with professional degrees in architecture (BArch, MArch), landscape architecture (BLA, MLA) or planning (BSCRP, MCRP, MUP). Graduate students can also pursue the following double degrees in the College of Design: M Arch/MUD, MCRP/MUD and MLA/MUD. 

List of Courses:

Urban Design Local Studio (URB D 501) - 6 credits

Urban Design Global Studio (URB D 502) - 6 credits

History/Theory/Criticism - 6 credits from the following list

Technology/Methods - 12 credits from the following list

History, Theory, Culture

Art and Architecture of India. (ART H 581)        

Art and Theory Since 1945 (ART H 595)             

Art History in Europe (ART H 592)

Contemp. Urban Design Theory (Arch 575)                   

Foundations of Urban Design (URB D 521)        

Green Art: Earthworks and Beyond (ART H 597)                                    

History of Chinese Architecture. F. (Arch 527)

History of Photography (ART H 596)      

History of Urban Design (URB D 511)

Issues in Visual and Material Culture Seminar (ART H 501)

Methods of Urban Design Workshop     (URB D 531)

Middle Eastern Cities (Arch 519)

Modern Art and Theory (ART H 588)

Nineteenth Century Art (ART H 587)

Planning in Developing Countries (C R P 529)

Planning the American Metropolis (C R P 563)                                      

Planning Theory (C R P 561)  

Seminar on the Built Environment III: Theory (ARCH 597)

Seminar on the Built Environment IV: Topical Study (ARCH 598)                                    

Spatial Dialectics in the American Midwest (ARCH 529)

Studies in Architecture: Culture (ARCH 528A)

Theory of Urban Design (URB D 522)     

Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture (LA  578)

U. S. Environmental History (ENV S 472)                                               

Urban Design Media Workshop (URB D 532)     

Urban Design Methods (URB D 533)                                         

Women/Gender in Art (ART H 594)                   


Advanced Computer Lighting and Rendering (ARCH 432)

Advanced Computer-aided Architectural Design (ARCH 534)

Advanced Design Media (ARCH 436)

Advanced GIS Modeling (LA 567)                                  

Advanced GIS Modeling (LA 567)                                  

Advanced Three-Dimensional Studio (ARCH 535)

Analytical Planning/GIS (C R P 553)

Building Science and Technology V (ARCH 445)

Community and Regional Planning                   

Computer Aided Animation and Visualization (ARTIS 508)

Computer Aided Industrial Design (IND D 541)

Computer-aided Arch. and Enviro. Design (ARCH 434)

Computer/Video Game Design and Development (ARTIS 409)

Computer/Video Game Design and Development (ARTIS 509)

Design for E-Commerce/Graphic Applications (ARTGR 478)

Digital Textile Design (ARTIS 548)

File to Fabrication (ARCH 433)              

Geog. Data Management and Planning Analysis (C R P 552)

Geographic Data Management and Planning Analysis (C R P 452)

GIS Programming and Automation (C R P 456)

GIS Programming and Automation (C R P 556)

Intaglio & Monotype Printmaking: Dig/Traditional (ARTIS 557)

Introduction to Research Design (DSN S 501X)

Introduction to Web Mapping (LA 558)                        

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (C R P 551)

Lithography: Digital / Traditional (ARTIS 558)    

Multimedia Design (ARTGR 473)           

Principles of 3D Animation (ARTIS 408)

Principles of 3D Character Animation (ARTIS 407)

Principles of 3D Character Animation (ARTIS 507)

Product Realization for Industrial Design (IND D 534)

Relief Printmaking: Digital/Traditional (ARTIS 556)

Science and Technology for Architects I (ARCH 541)

Seminar in GIS Applications/Research (C R P 595)                                                         

Sustainability and Green Architecture (ARCH 558)                                            

Topical Studies in Landscape Architecture (LA  578G-K-L)

Urban/Periurban Watersheds (LA 517)             

Wayfinding Design (ARTGR 479)                                               

Workshop: Computer Art and Design (ARTIS 493C)

First Year
Select from History/Theory/Culture List3URB D 5016URB D 5026
Select from Technology/Methods List3Select from Technology/Methods List3 
Select from Technology/Methods List3Select From History/Theory/Culture3 
Select from Technology/Methods List3  
 12 12 6

Expand all courses


Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(3-6) Cr. 6.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission
Analysis and observation of urban morphology, culture, and infrastructure through urban design projects set in Midwestern cities. Students learn, interpret, and propose design interventions to address urban challenges related to changing socio-political, economic, and environmental contexts. Field trips.

(1-10) Cr. 6.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
Students develop proposals for urban design interventions in an international context at multiple scales using investigation, analysis, observation, and interaction. Field trips.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission
Focus on the historical role of planning and urban design in the shaping of North American cities and regions, from the colonial period to the late twentieth century. Examine the legacy of planning and design by exploring the intersection of geographic space, politics, and policy. Investigate the factors and the processes that produce the built environment.

Cr. R. Repeatable.

Prereq: enrollment in the Urban Design program
Special topics and guest speakers. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

Cr. 3.

Prereq: URB D 502
Research expands and integrates discourse and design findings from various Urban Design degree courses. Students develop independently-defined research to produce a comprehensive and conclusive final document that incorporates text, visuals and/or other media.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing, senior classification with instructor permission.
Introduction to the ways that urban designers think about the city with a focus on how history, theory, and a wide range of contextual factors inform urban design practice. Field trip.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
Study of emerging trends and practices in urban design using a range of current media communication platforms. Course will be conducted in a combination of lecture, seminar formats. Graduate level readings, discussions, research, and development of projective scenarios.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
An exploration of contemporary urban design methods derived from significant urban projects and (re)development initiatives. Selected case studies to articulate and evaluate methods for implementing urban design goals and objectives in a variety of urbanized contexts. Case studies will build on a combination of analytical research, lectures, student presentations, and field trips.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
An introduction to visual representation tools and techniques for generating and communicating urban design concepts, processes, and analytics. Project and exercises utilize traditional and contemporary approaches to drawing, modeling, and mapping, as well as desktop publishing tools.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
This course examines how socio-political and economic forces shape the contemporary built environment. The course highlights various methods urban designers use to affect change and, in turn, how these impact stakeholders and communities. Students develop critical awareness of the impact of their decision making on the city.