Graduate Architecture

Advanced Architectural Design [MSD-AAD]

The Master of Science in Design (MSD) with a concentration in Advanced Architectural Design (AAD) is a post-professional degree launched in academic year 2016-2017. It replaces the former Post-Professional in Design (PPD) program by offering students a three-semester studio-based sequence aimed at innovation in architectural design. 

The three-semester Master of Science in Design with a concentration in Advanced Architecture Design [MSD-AAD] course of study is for architecture students with five-year professional bachelor degrees from the US and around the world. This course of study does not lead to a professional degree in architecture. The MS-AAD program is a three semester program and builds on its success as a program focused on innovation in architecture design.

The purpose of the MSD Advanced Architecture Design program is threefold: first, to develop skills in emerging design and cross-disciplinary tools, including generative parametric software and 3-D prototyping; second, to critically engage theoretical dimensions of the contemporary architectural discourse around these techniques and their potential for cross-disciplinary collaborations; and third, to integrate advanced digital modeling techniques into a design methodology that has direct bearing on production, fabrication and construction processes. Such digital techniques incorporate real-time feedback that enhances the decision-making process of designers and cross-disciplinary teams.

The advanced architectural design-based program starts with a mandatory one week workshop in design technique. A coordinated semester of advanced architectural design and courses follow after which the students join the Master of Architecture program for one year. During this year students pursue an individually directed course of study by choosing from a wide range of options in advanced architectural design studios, and elective courses offered within the Master of Architecture program. 

MSD-AAD // Curriculum

Year 1 - Fall

ARCH 703 MSD- AAD Design Studio  (2 cu)
ARCH 710 Contemporary Theory 1989-Present  (1 cu)
ARCH 720 Visual Literacy and Its Culture  (1 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective I  (1 cu)

Year 1 - Spring

ARCH 704 Design Research Studio  (2 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective II  (1 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective III  (1 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective IV  (1 cu)

Year 2 - Fall

ARCH 705  Design Research Studio  (2 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective V  (1 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective VI  (1 cu)
ARCH XXX Elective VII  (1 cu)

Total Course Units: 15

MSD-AAD // Sequence

The first (Fall) semester includes a design research studio, which incorporates a study trip, and two dedicated seminars with one elective seminar. After the first semester, the students select from a range of design research, option studios and seminars taught by internationally acclaimed architects, professors and lecturers.

The condensed one-and-a-half-year program allows students to study a wide range of new digital design techniques to challenge current critical thinking, philosophy, theory, and to experiment with digital fabrication used in the production of complex forms. The work of the semester is published with theoretical texts by visitors and faculty that offers a comprehensive overview of the students' ability to design critical and rigorous architecture. The work is further evaluated in an event at the end of the semester, where design professionals of international acclaim are invited to discuss and critique the work of the students.

MSD-AAD // Publications & Exhibitions

The program prides itself on publications of the work of the students as well as theoretical texts written by invited participants. The most recent publications are Asset Architecture 1 (2015) and Asset Architecture 2 (2016). Asset Architecture 3 is forthcoming this summer. (2017). The MSD​-AAD student work has won international competitions and have been published widely by the national and international press. The design work has also been exhibited nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and academic institutions.

MSD-AAD // Admission Requirements

For specific information regarding admissions, go here. Candidates for admission to the Advanced Architectural Design degree requires successful completion of a five-year Bachelor of Architecture professional degree from a national or international institution. The applicant should submit three letters of recommendation, official transcripts from each US college or university attended for credit and/or a BASIC course-by-course evaluation from World Education Services (http://www.wes.org/) from institutions outside of the United States, a résumé, a digital portfolio of design work, one writing sample, a description of computing skills and software proficiency, and a personal statement describing his/her educational goals in taking the program. 

Applicants to the Master of Science in Design must also submit official GRE scores. International applicants must submit official IELTS Academic, PTE Academic, or TOEFL scores if English is not their first language. All applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee of the graduate program.

Ali Rahim
Professor, Department of Architecture
Director of Master of Science in Design
alir@design.upenn.edu