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.

The Master of Science in Design: Advanced Architectural Design (MSD-AAD) concentration degree program is a three-semester (fall, spring, and fall) program intended for individuals who hold a five-year Bachelor of Architecture professional degree and seek to supplement, extend, or focus their previous education in architecture. This design-based program allows students to pursue an individually directed course of study by choosing from a wide range of options in advanced design studios and elective courses.

The purpose of the MSD Advanced Architectural Design program is four-fold. First, to prepare students for high level design research in the profession or academy in contemporary issues that affect the architecture discipline. Second, to develop skills in emerging design and cross-disciplinary tools, third, to critically engage the theoretical dimensions of the contemporary architectural discourse around these tools; and fourth, to integrate advanced digital modeling techniques into a design methodology that has direct bearing on the development of material, production, fabrication and construction processes and their aesthetics.

The advanced architectural design-based program starts with a mandatory ten-day workshop in design technique. A coordinated semester of advanced architectural design and complimentary courses follow. The second term builds on what was learned during the first term with the ability to elect their design studios within the focus of the program. The courses continue a sequence that zooms into issues of contemporary architecture culture and simultaneously sets up the third and final semester of the program. During the first two semesters students elect seminars from a wide range of courses offered within the Master of Architecture program. The final semester design studio is also elected and focuses on large scale fabrications and courses that complement the intellectual focus of the semester.

Curriculum

Fall Year 1

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)

Spring Year 1

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

Fall Year 2

ARCH 701 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 semester includes a coordinated 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 designated design research studios that focus on advanced issues of architectural design and two dedicated seminars and an elective seminar that develop a cogent field of study on advanced issues of contemporary architecture. One of the required seminars assists students in developing a research paper on a topic that leads to the final design studio project. The final semester designated design studio focuses on a large-scale fabrication project and serves as the capstone project for the program. During this term there are also two dedicated courses to further the development of student’s design research.  All the studios and seminars are taught by internationally acclaimed architects, professors and lecturers.

The three-semester 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 faculty and visitors that offers a comprehensive overview of the students' ability to research and design rigorous architecture. The work is further evaluated in an event at the end of each semester 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), Asset Architecture 2 (2016), and Asset Architecture 3 (2018) published by ORO Editions. The forthcoming book titled “Future Airports” compiling two years of design research on the topics of the future airport will be published in 2019. MSD​-AAD student work has won international competitions and has 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.

Foreign Nationals and Architecture Accreditation

Although students who are foreign nationals and who hold a professional degree such as a Bachelor of Architecture from their home country will not be considered for our accredited Master of Architecture professional program, it is still possible for them to seek licensure in the U.S. with their degree through the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). The three main requirements one must fulfill to be licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction include education, experience, and examination. You will need to have your education evaluated by NAAB through their Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) program. Once your credentials have been evaluated, you will need to fulfill the training and examination requirements before you can be licensed. For more details about the accreditation process, go to https://www.ncarb.org/advance-your-career/ncarb-certificate/get-certified/foreign-architects.

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