PhD in Architecture

The Ph.D. Program in Architecture is focused on the production of knowledge in the historical, theoretical, or technological development of architecture, landscape architecture, and historic preservation. Operating within the context of a design school in a university setting, it is a fundamentally interdisciplinary program, and seeks to explore opportunities in the wider university to reconsider the terms, methods, and futures of architectural knowledge. 

To see current and recent student work from the program, go to the work link above. You can also explore recent events and programs sponsored by the Graduate Group and news about faculty and students. Faculty members of Graduate Group are listed below with their research focus. 

The Program is especially interested in interdisciplinary scholarship that explores and rescripts the boundaries of the discipline. Projects in History/Theory often explore connections between architectural histories and theories and histories of technology and environment; of race, class, and gender; of politics, economics, and equity; many are attuned to the role of media in producing and understanding architectural ideas. Technological research operates on structural and environmental knowledge. While much of the required coursework for the degree takes place within the School of Design, the curriculum allows extensive opportunities for students to take advantage of the rich resources of the University in their elective courses, in preparing their bibliographies and in writing their dissertations.

Requirements for the degree include twenty approved courses, the passing of two language exams, a qualifying examination, a preliminary examination, teaching experience, a dissertation and a final defense. Course work from previous graduate level programs can reduce the number of required courses for the Ph.D. Students generally spend three to four semesters on campus in order to complete requirements and advance to dissertation status. We encourage students to complete the degree in four to five years.

Students are assigned an advisor upon entering the program, and often choose their dissertation advisor within the first year. Most advisory committees are, like the work itself, interdisciplinary, and draw from experts within the School, the University, and the wider scholarly community.

The program is administered by a Graduate Group, consisting of faculty in the Department of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Historic Preservation, as well as from associated departments including History of Art, History and Sociology of Science, and other departments across the university. Students from the program often serve as pre-doctoral fellows in a range of University research centers, including the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities and the Penn/Mellon Colloquium in Humanities+Urbanism+Design.

The program accepts applicants holding Master's degrees in architecture or a related field, such as landscape architecture or historic preservation. Applications to the Ph.D. program are accepted once a year as part of the Weitzman School’s admissions process.

Graduate Group in Architecture


Core Faculty

Masoud Akbarzadeh   Assistant Professor of Architecture, Director of the Polyhedral Structures Laboratory
Architecture and structural design, geometry-based structural design methods, innovative construction techniques, digital and robotic fabrication, performative architectural geometry, computational methods    

Dorit Aviv   Assistant Professor of Architecture, Director of the Thermal Architecture Lab
Heat transfer in buildings, architectural geometry and emergent materials, energy and climate analysis, environmental sensing and simulations, adaptive systems

William W. Braham   Professor of Architecture, Director of MSD-Environmental Building Design and of the Center for Environmental Building + Design
Energy and environmental design in architecture, history and theory of technology, building science, and systems ecology applied to the built environment at multiple scales

Sonja Dümpelmann   Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Landscape and environmental history, urban studies, science and technology in landscape history, women and the built environment, landscape and the environmental humanities, plant humanities, history of landscape historiography

David Leatherbarrow   Professor of Architecture
Theory and histories of architecture, technology in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban architecture

Laia Mogas-Soldevila   Assistant Professor of Architecture, Director of DumoLab 
Material-driven design, interdisciplinary research, biomaterial architectures, bioclimatic design, advanced and additive manufacturing, ecological integration, multi scale design and engineering

Franca Trubiano   Associate Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture
History and theory of architecture, building theories, tectonics, construction practices and architectural materials, sustainable design and environmental theories, high performance design

Aaron Wunsch   Associate Professor of Historic Preservation

Daniela Fabricious   Assistant Professor in History and Theory


Affiliated Faculty

Etienne Benson   History and Sociology of Science                       

David Brownlee   History of Art

Annette Fierro   Architecture

Billy Fleming   Ian L. McHarg Center

Renata Holod   History of Art

John Dixon Hunt   Landscape Architecture (Emeritus)                                        

Frank Matero   Historic Preservation   

Joan Ockman   Architecture                             

Eduardo Rega   Architecture         

Akira Drake Rodriguez   City and Regional Planning                             

Fritz Steiner   Landscape Architecture

Nancy Steinhardt   East Asian Languages and Civilizations      

Robert Stuart-Smith   Architecture                            

Liliane Weissberg   Germanic Languages and Literatures 

Mantha Zarmakoupi   History of Art