• City Design + Housing
  • Performative Design + Technology
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Under the vision of Dean Milton S. F. Curry and the directorship of Alvin Huang, the Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies (M.AARS) is designed to align with the mission and priorities of the USC School of Architecture, a dynamic platform for educating and inspiring citizen architects, designers and scholars to analyze problems and create design solutions that both respond to the challenges of our time and embrace the promise of a better built environment.


This one-year, three-semester post-professional graduate degree is focused on degree concentrations:

1. City Design + Housing

2. Performative Design + Technology

3. Social Practice + Spatial Justice (admission will open in the future for Fall 2023)

Each degree concentration focuses on specialized scholarly research and professional development in relevant topics that are affecting the built environment of today and which are shaping the built environment of tomorrow. Working across disciplines and at multiple scales, each of the degree concentrations moves between real-world issues and innovative architecture thinking to explore ideas for radically re-thinking the ways in which we design, inhabit, and build.

 

Though each concentration has a distinct focus of inquiry, all are bound by the common goals of:

1. Spatial, Social, and Environmental Justice

2. Spatial, Social, and Environmental Resiliency

3. Spatial, Social, and Environmental Sustainability

4. Spatial, Social, and Environmental Innovation

 

The Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies (M.AARS) at the USC School of architecture examines the 21st-century city and the diverse social and cultural landscape of Los Angeles as living laboratories for examining global contemporary urban issues.


RELATED LINKS: Application Instructions & Requirements, Application Deadlines, Faculty

M.AARS,City Design + Housing

  • Curriculum
  • Degree Requirements
  • Eligibility

Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies (M.AARS), City Design and Housing Emphasis is a 42-unit multi-disciplinary graduate degree program at the USC School of Architecture that prepares participants to study, analyze, and design within complex urban systems. Focusing on the 21st-century city the program will address specific urban challenges through a combination of explorative design studio and advanced topical research. Working across disciplines and at multiple scales, this degree concentration moves between real-world issues and innovative architectural approaches to explore ideas for radically re-thinking the ways in which we can design, build, and inhabit our cities in more inclusive and equitable ways.

 

The program will leverage Los Angeles as a laboratory to examine the forces that shape local and global cities. Addressing a diverse set of factors that are linked to city design and housing – such as urban development and housing policies, real estate and housing finance, history and theory, technology and infrastructure, and ecology and climate change – the program will introduce students to broad methodological tools for critically analyzing contemporary challenges of urban systems and housing and will strengthen their skills to employ research and design to create more equitable, sustainable, and resilient urban environments and housing schemes.

 

The CD+H program’s design and research efforts will be framed by three topical trajectories: a) urban housing (low-cost, collective, affordable, informal, densification, etc.); b) urban inequalities (racial segregation, economic disparities, gentrification, homelessness, digital divide, migration, etc.); and c) urban infrastructures (street design, public transportation, walkability, public space, programmatic & zoning issues, etc.). In addition, the one-year course will switch between the local context of Los Angeles and a selected global city (Latin America, Asia, Africa). In order to more thoroughly study the international context – and potentially establish more sound collaborations with institutions and stakeholders abroad – the same international context will be part of the program in a two or three-year cycle.

 

Finally, to connect students with real-world contexts, challenges and experiences, the CD+H program seeks to include various travel components throughout the year, which could potentially be linked to the PD+T and SP+SJ cohorts. Semester 1 will incorporate field trips in the Los Angeles and Southern California region. In Semester 2, the program’s focus on an international context will be supplemented by a week-long trip to the respective city. For semester 3, the program intends to provide students the option of an immersive trip in a foreign or domestic location for their final project. The USC School of Architecture is developing the Latin Americas Cities Initiative and Asia Cities Initiative, which will be expected to interface with the MAARS CD+H, PD+T and SP+SJ programs.


CURRICULUM

Following is the program curriculum for the 2021-2022 Academic year.

42-unit Curriculum
  •  
    Core Requirements (Total units: 28)

    ARCH 519 Sustainability in the Environment: Infrastructures, Urban Landscapes, and Buildings (3 units)

    ARCH 529 Urban Housing: Programs, Precedents, and Recent Case Studies (2 units)

    ARCH 543 Research Methods (1 unit)

    ARCH 561 Urbanism Themes and Case Studies (2 units)

    ARCH 702 Advanced Graduate Architecture Design– Themes (6 units)

    ARCH 705 Advanced Graduate Architecture Design– Topics (6 units)

    ARCH 793a Architecture Directed Design Research Option I (2 units)

    ARCH 793b Architecture Directed Design Research Option I (6 units)

     
  •  
    Electives (Total units: 14 units)

    The curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow students to customize elective courses to a specific topic of interest within the thematic framework of the degree program. A list of electives currently offered for all themes is summarized below. Additional electives outside of the School of Architecture are possible upon approval.

     

    Architecture & Housing

    ARCH 414 Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture (2 units)

    ARCH 527 Case Studies: The Development of Urban Housing (2 units)

    ARCH 528 Urban Housing: Types and Typologies (2 units)

    ARCH 562 Architecture Themes and Case Studies (2 units)

     

    Sustainability & Systems

    ARCH 447 Ecological Factors in Design (3 units)

    ARCH 515 Seminar: Advanced Environmental Systems (4 units) or

    PPDE 640 – Environmental Planning and Analysis (4 units)

    ARCH 531 Urban Ecology (4 units)

     

    Urbanism & Landscape

    ARCH 544 Landscape as Urbanism: Case Studies (2 units)

    ARCH 553 History of American Architecture and Urbanism (3 units)

    ARCH 565 Global History of Designed Landscapes (3 units) or

    ARCH 566 Cross Cultural Topics in Landscape Architecture History (3 units) or

    PPDE 636 Urban Spatial Ethnography and Critical Cartography (4 units)

     
Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree requires 42 units: 20 units of core requirements, 14 units of electives and 8 units of Architecture Directed Design Research.


Eligibility

This degree is intended for qualified students who have completed a professional degree in architecture (B.Arch/M.Arch) with interest in advanced non-professional graduate study pursuing careers in urban design, urban planning, community development, as well as adequate and affordable housing design.

M.AARS,Performative Design + Technology

  • Curriculum
  • Degree Requirements
  • Eligibility

Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies (M.AARS) - Performative Design + Technology (PDT) is a 42-unit graduate design program at the USC School of Architecture that focuses on the integration of architectural design, building performance, and technology, within the context of digital design and fabrication. As a design-centric approach to building science concepts in the spirit of Ralph Knowles and the legacy of the Natural Forces Laboratory at the USC School of Architecture, issues of sustainability, structure, daylighting, and thermal comfort will be explored in the context of architectural design. In this program, students will explore digital and analog techniques for discovering form through variable material and geometric organizations and force simulations, while simultaneously considering the design opportunities being afforded by advances in computation and fabrication technologies. The proposed curriculum will respond to emerging shifts in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry towards integrated technologies, increased efficiency, and productivity, and a digital workforce driven by digital, sensing, and intelligent technologies. An integrated design curriculum that incorporates these concepts will support students in developing the skill necessary to foster innovation in practice with a focus on: data, technology, integration, performance, ecology and sustainability.

 

A travel component will be included in Semester 1 through field trips in the Los Angeles and Southern California region to connect students with the real-world context and challenges faced in urban cities. In Semester 2, a week-long trip to a foreign or domestic location will provide students with a global context and interface and connect with the CD+H program. Students will have an option in Semester 3 to participate in an extended and immersive trip in a foreign or domestic location that will support completion of the final project. The USC School of Architecture is developing the Latin Americas Cities Initiative and Asia Cities Initiative, which will be expected to interface with the M.AARS CD+H and PD+T programs.


CURRICULUM

Following is the program curriculum for the 2021-2022 Academic year.

42-unit Curriculum
  •  
    Core Requirements (Total units: 28)

    ARCH 519 Sustainability in the Environment: Infrastructures, Urban Landscapes, and Buildings (3 units)

    ARCH 543 Research Methods (1 unit)

    ARCH 607 Advanced Computation (2 units)

    ARCH 609 Advanced Fabrication (2 units)

    ARCH 702 Advanced Graduate Architecture Design– Themes (6 units)

    ARCH 705 Advanced Graduate Architecture Design– Topics (6 units)

    ARCH 793a Architecture Directed Design Research Option I (2 units)

    ARCH 793b Architecture Directed Design Research Option I (6 units)

     
  •  
    Electives (Total units: 14)

    The curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow students to customize elective courses to a specific topic of interest within the thematic framework of the degree program. A list of electives currently offered for all themes is summarized below. Additional electives outside of the School of Architecture are possible upon approval.

     

    Design

    ARCH 581 Techniques in Digital Fabrication (3 units)

    ARCH/CE-578: Technology-Enabled Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Projects (4 units)

     

    Integration

    ARCH 418 Designing with Natural Forces (3 units)

    ARCH 513 Seminar: Advanced Structures (4 units)

    ARCH 518 Advanced Surface Tectonics: Methods in Material and Enclosure (2 units)

    ARCH 611 Advanced Building Systems Integration (4 units)

     

    Materials

    ARCH 511 Building Systems: Materials and Construction (4 units)

    ARCH 512 Material + Process: Material Systems (2 units)

     

    Systems

    ARCH 447 Ecological Factors in Design (3 units)

    ARCH 515 Seminar: Advanced Environmental Systems (4 units)

    ARCH 576 Sustainable Design for Healthy Indoor Environments (3 units)

    ARCH 588 Physical Computing: Linking Architectural Computing with the Physical World (3 units)

     
Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree requires 42 units: 20 units of core requirements, 14 units of electives and 8 units of Architecture Directed Design Research.


Eligibility

This degree is intended for qualified students who have completed a professional degree in architecture (B.Arch/M.Arch) with interest in advanced non-professional graduate study who are pursuing careers in architectural design, structural design, parametric design, design optimization, environmental design, and performative architecture.