The Urban Design graduate certificate program is designed to equip Master’s candidates from the School of Architecture’s four departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban and Environmental Planning, and Architectural History with the expertise and skills to engage with multi-scalar issues facing urban environments, from urban and infrastructural development, to social equity and resilience. The program will provide students with practical spatial design strategies and analytical tools as well as foundational historical and theoretical knowledge supporting urban design and planning strategies. As a cross-disciplinary program of study, the Urban Design certificate effectively complements the school’s other graduate degree programs by preparing graduates that are able to join, and meaningfully contribute to, interdisciplinary teams concerned with the urban realm and urban spaces, whether in government, private practice, or in an institutional context.
Architects pursuing the Urban Design certificate will be prepared to join the making of an urban plan, and deploy their design skills to create synergy between multiple buildings and the spaces between and around them. For landscape architects, the certificate will provide tools and strategies to prepare them to coordinate the needs of local and regional ecosystems with needs of urban development. The Urban Design Certificate will build spatial skills and design thinking for students from Urban and Environmental Planning. Students in History will gain concepts and strategies to help ensure that historic buildings and districts maintain or renew their vitality in a changing urban context.
For official requirements of this certificate, students should consult UVA's Graduate Record.
To complete the program requirements of the Urban Design Certificate students will fill their elective classes with Urban Design certificate credits. Students are recommended to start with the core classes as these build a foundation for the certificate. Students without design experience in their undergrad education are further required to participate in the Summer Design Institute prior to enrolling in the Urban Design Certificate program.
Full-time degree-seeking student at UVA School of Architecture taking 12-18 credit hours per semester would complete the certificate in 2-3 years (4-6 semesters). The program is only available to full-time students. All certificate course requirements are to be completed within the time it takes to complete the graduate degree in which they are enrolled, ensuring no additional time is added to the expected length of graduate study.
Current students enrolled in the Urban Design Certificate program must consult UVA's Graduate Record for the official requirements for this certificate.
Students wishing to enter the Urban Design graduate certificate program must be a current graduate student at the School of Architecture. Students must apply to Urban Design graduate certificate program, following the admissions requirements outlined below:
+ An online application
+ A statement of professional goals [approximately 300 words]
+ Curriculum Vitae
+ Successful completion of the Summer Design Institute [for students who do not have an undergraduate degree in a design discipline]
+ Good academic standing in their department, with a GPA of at least 3.0 [B average]
+ Approval of the Urban Design Certificate Program Director
Degree-seeking students may transfer a maximum of 3 credits toward the certificate requirements if earned at the University of Virginia and if they have attained a minimum of a B in the course and have received approval from the Urban Design Certificate Program Director.
The Urban Design graduate certificate is offered through 2 tracks depending on the student’s graduate program. Students in the Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Planning program will enroll in track 1 with an emphasis on urban analysis and design. Students in the Architecture History program can enroll in track 2 with an emphasis on urban design history, theory, and analysis.
[Note: Students might be able to opt in or out of their track. This however is understood as an exception and needs approval from the Urban Design Certificate Program Director.]
URBAN DESIGN CERTIFICATE: TRACK 1
Students in Track 1 are required to take two urban design core seminars (3 credits each), one urban design research studio (6 credits), and one urban design elective course (3 credits) for the total of 15 credits. There are several classes that fulfill the UDC core seminars and students can choose among these classes (Go to the section below "Urban Design Courses" to view a list of UDC core seminars). One core course should cover urban design history and theory to provide a foundation in the historic, geographic, and cultural diversity of cities worldwide based on a comparative study of exemplary projects. The second core course should concentrate on urban design methods and provide the analytical methods and design strategies required for analyzing urban processes and intervening in urban environments. The urban design research studio is offered in the ARCH/LAR 8010/8020 sequence. Studios are addressing urban problematics through a variety of scales ranging from the neighborhood to the city and larger surrounding regions.
Electives will complement core courses by presenting advanced theoretical positions and practical skills in contemporary urban design. Courses will teach students to: carry out digital and analog analyses of urban areas at multiple scales; create a strategic development plan; analyze how ecological, economic, and policy issues affect the making of urban design plans; and understand how to work with stakeholder groups to build consensus and resilience.
UDC electives can be chosen from the classes listed on this webpage (Go to the section below "Urban Design Courses" to view a list of UDC electives). Required classes in the major degree program cannot count as UDC electives.
URBAN DESIGN CERTIFICATE: TRACK 2
Students in Track 2 are required to take two urban design core seminars (3 credits each), one urban design analysis class (3 credits), and two urban design elective courses (3 credits each) for the total of 15 credits. There are several classes that fulfill the UDC core seminars and students can choose among these classes. (Go to the section below "Urban Design Courses" to view a list of UDC core seminars). One core course should cover urban design history and theory to provide a foundation in the historic, geographic, and cultural diversity of cities worldwide based on a comparative study of exemplary projects. The second core course should concentrate on urban design methods and provide the analytical methods and design strategies required for analyzing urban processes and intervening in urban environments. The urban analysis seminar will introduce students to GIS software technology, mapping techniques, and the ESRI analytical toolbox. Students can choose among multiple urban analysis classes and should contact the program director to discuss this prior to enrollment.
Electives will complement the core courses by presenting advanced theoretical positions and practical skills in contemporary urban design. Courses will teach students to: carry out digital and analog analyses of urban areas at multiple scales; create a strategic development plan; analyze how ecological, economic, and policy issues affect the making of urban design plans; and understand how to work with stakeholder groups to build consensus and resilience.
UDC electives can be chosen from the classes listed on this webpage. (Go to the section below "Urban Design Courses" to view a list of UDC electives). Required classes in the major degree program cannot count as UDC electives.
Specific course numbers and course requirements are posted through UVA's Graduate Record.
Students should review course requirements and seek advice for course planning by meeting with the Urban Design Certificate Program Director.
The following list of course descriptions present the range of course offerings at UVA School of Architecture related to urban design. Not every course will be offered every semester.
Consult with the Urban Design Certificate Program Director to learn more about current and future course offerings that apply to the Urban Design graduate certificate.
UDC CORE SEMINARS:
ARCH 5500 - Technology, Urbanization & Design (3 credits)
[Note: Students who can’t take ARCH 5612 can count PLAN 5500 as a replacement class. Approval by the UDC Director is required.]
This course is premised on two major shifts within the discussion of urbanization and technological development. On one hand, our understandings of urbanization processes and urban forms need to move beyond cities as concentrated sites of urban thought. This expansion of scope allows for the analytic inclusion of the extended productive, infrastructural and extractive landscapes. On the other hand, looking at technologies matter-of-factly is increasingly not sufficient. We also need to investigate the ideologies and biases embedded within technological development that tend to reflect and perpetuate some of the larger sociopolitical inequalities and systemic and structural preconceptions at work in urban environments. Something that becomes more critical as tech companies begin to exert their power and resources within cities and urban environments globally.
ARCH 5612 - Modes of Inscription: Architecture, Landscape, Urbanism (3 credits)
Topical in structure, this lecture course presents a contemporary examination of the role of the designer within the built environment, beyond disciplinary silos inherited from the twentieth century that defined the practices of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning as autonomous disciplines with limited transversal dialogue. Key to this argument is the claim that a renewed understanding of the notion of urban design as a bridge practice that can help facilitate a more unified disciplinary body.
ARCH/PLAN 5614 – Urban Strategies (3 credits)
Worldwide urbanization processes will increase in the next years reaching an urbanization rate of 75% by the middle of the century. Shrinkage, stagnation and rapid growth are simultaneous phenomena affecting contemporary cities. Urban sustainability is therefore highly dependent on our ability to generate and implement strategic frameworks for the city that accommodate these transformations. Discussions, lectures, and readings in combination with an urban design group project will introduce students to contemporary urban design methodologies, including temporary tactics and the elaboration of urban scenarios, that lead to the development of comprehensive urban design frameworks and strategies.
LAR 7500 - Water and the City (3 credits)
This seminar examines urban relationships between water infrastructure, rivers, and coasts in the Americas over the last one thousand years. Issues related to climate change, landscape infrastructure, urban form, public space design, and human and ecosystem health are presented and analyzed. Themes such as wilderness, frontiers, and mobility are developed as we investigate cases drawing from academic texts, source documents, and popular culture.
PLAN 5611 - Barcelona Urban History (3 credits)
[Note: Students who join the Barcelona Study abroad semester can count PLAN 5611 as a replacement for ARCH 5612. Approval by the UDC Director is required.]
The students will understand the history of Barcelona from its Roman foundation to the extension of its medieval walls. The development of its urban structural grid, example of Cerdà, as well as its current state of remodeling for the Olympic games, and the ongoing urban transformations will all be studied in this class. This course will consist of lectures, field trips & practical exercises; specifically, we will develop a graphic interpretation.
UD 8612 - Urban Design History and Theory (3 credits)
This course introduces students to the underlying histories and theoretical dimensions of urban design as a creative spatial practice. By exploring a wide range of urban interventions at multiple scales, the course contextualizes contemporary design practice within the social, environmental, and political forces acting on the urban environment.
UDC RESEARCH STUDIOS:
UD Research Studios are offered regularly in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture curriculum. Each year students in these studios work across disciplines. The studio topics are ranging, but urban-focused studios are guaranteed as a commitment by the department chairs and the dean.
The following list features a sample of urban design studios that have been taught in last few years.
ALAR 8010 - Yamuna River Project, India (6 credits)
The University of Virginia’s Yamuna River Project is an inter-disciplinary research program whose objective is to revitalize the ecology of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, thus reconnecting India’s capital city back to the water. Students employ techniques of urban design and landscape remediation for the recovery of the Yamuna and its tributaries.
ALAR 8010 - Urban Design Barcelona (6 credits, Barcelona Program only)
Students design a new relationship between the eastern port area and the city of Barcelona. Working in a complex urban area, students acquire urban, architectural and landscape strategies. Their work incorporates urban relations, public spaces and infrastructure.
ALAR 8010 - The Architecture and Landscape of Infrastructural Urbanism (6 credits)
This studio encourages the rethinking of the processes, structures, and forms of cities, urban landscapes, and architecture in the 21st century. The studio participates in the Schindler Global Award Competition, which is one of the most important ideas competitions that runs every two years. The context for the 2018-19 competition was Mumbai, India, one of the more rapidly developing cities in the world.
ALAR 8010 – Fallow Cities: The Ruhr and the Rust Belt (6 credits)
This studio investigates precedents of urban regeneration in industrial regions to gather fodder for design propositions at multiple scales of urban, landscape and architectural design. Students delve deep into pre-settlement, growth and decline cycles of select cities to imagine the next successional phase of urban form. As opposed to overzealous redevelopment schemes, the premise of this studio is zero or little growth, propositions focused on restructuring the city for existing or displaced residents. Lessons learned in the Ruhr District in Germany are translated for application to North American Rust Belt cities.
Electives are grouped in areas of expertise; Urban Design spatial analysis and transportation systems, history and theory, systems and ecology, as well as economy, policy and community engagement. Students are not allowed to count a required class in their degree program towards a required elective in the Urban Design Certificate. The following course descriptions are examples of urban electives at the UVA School of Architecture.
Urban Design Spatial Analysis and Transportation Systems
ARCH/PLAN 5613 - Networked Cities: Techniques and Theories (3 credits)
This seminar investigates the Northeast Corridor, specifically the region around Washington, DC. Current and recent theories of large urban agglomerations are discussed and critically examined. Students gain analytical techniques developed through maps, infographics, and are introduced to ArcGIS applications.
ARCH 5717 - Mapping as Critical Practice (3 credits)
This course introduces contemporary cartographic and data visualization techniques as design tools for the strategic development of critical, theoretical, and experimental frameworks for architecture, urbanism, and intermedia design practices.
LAR 7415 - Scripting Civic Engagement: Web Technologies (3 credits)
This course introduces various technologies, primarily web-based, that enable designers to promote civic engagement through the analysis and activation of public space. Course format is interactive and interdisciplinary, combining hands-on tutorials (Mapbox, HTML, CSS, dataviz, social media APIs.) with contemporary case studies in placemaking, activism, and civic tech. No prior coding knowledge required.
LAR 7750 - Gaming Landscape Representation: Imaging the Green New Deal (3 credits)
How we image the world directly informs how we see and act in the world. As we face the social and environmental crises of climate change, imaging of the future must be bold and compelling. Within the framework of the Green New Deal and its urgent context, a newly accessible, uniquely versatile, and culturally significant tool will be employed: the Unity game engine. Real-time environments and mixed reality (AR/VR) projects will be produced.
PLAC 5721 - Transportation and Design (3 credits)
This urban-design-oriented class explores the impact of transportation choice on community character. Students learn the skills for place-making and multi-modal transportation planning by: Understanding “Neighborhood” as a physical entity; Rethinking “Corridor” as a critical element of public space; and Learning the rudiments of transport planning.
PLAN 6120 - Digital Technology for Planning and Design II - GIS (3 credits)
Required second semester technology class introducing students to the fundamental applications of geographic information systems central to planning analysis and practice.
SARC 5400 - Data Visualization (3 credits)
This is a course about information and data visualization. We live in a world rich with information. This course teaches visual and spatial thinking coupled with data analysis tools and custom web-enabled programming to construct and envision information. To find and even invent approaches toward seeing into complex problems, we will study, and make, useful, compelling and beautiful tools to see.
SARC 6720 - Design Computation GIS (3 credits)
Geographic Information System (GIS) is a data management, a mapping, and a visualization tool as well as a spatial analysis engine. This course focuses on how urban and environmental planners, and others in the social sciences, can use GIS to address current planning problems. Students work with GPS, Remote Sensing, 3-D analysis and web GIS.
Urban Design History/Theory
ARAH/ARH 9540 - Space & the Politics of Everyday Life (3 credits)
This seminar aims to re-situate the recent interest in avant-garde architectural practices of the 1960s in relation to the contemporaneous history and spatial politics of decolonialization, revolutionary movements, student uprisings, and urban theory. Henri Lefebvre’s formulations of everyday life and the right to the city will be a focus of investigation.
ARCH 5605 - Public Space – Design, History and Construction (3 credits)
Students explore how to use materials to resolve urban design and landscape issues. Using the different urban textures of Barcelona as a laboratory, students confront urban design and landscape techniques with the challenges of climate change, energy and water supply, and urban transportation.
LAR 5210 - Topics in Contemporary Landscape: Public Space (3 credits)
This seminar explores topics in landscape architecture theory through direct readings, discussions & research papers. Topics vary from year to year -- eg public space, representing temporality & process, changing conceptions of nature & ecology (from sustainability to emergence), gender & design, the works of a specific designer or region.
PLAN 6011 - Race and the American City (3 credits)
A seminar exploring how racialized inequalities have shaped American cities North & South, past & present, and the influence of racialized urban structures on the idea & experience of race in America. Topics include the effects of segregation, redlining, urban planning, redevelopment, white flight, ghettoization & neoliberal development on the form & culture of American cities & structures of inequality in the US. Graduate level will have additional requirements.
PLAN/LAR 5452 - Healthy Cities (3 credits)
This course's objective is to understand the theoretical concepts and health models supporting the goal of healthy cities. Classwork will frame health and well being issues relative to sustainability. This course is interdisciplinary and designed for students from the schools of architecture, public health, nursing, sociology, and psychology.
PLAN 6040 - Quantitative Methods of Planning Analysis (3 credits)
This course applies quantitative skills to the planning process: analyzes decision situations and develops precise languages communicating the quantitative dimensions of planning problems. Includes lectures, case studies, and applied assignments addressing statistical methods, survey methods, census data analysis, program and plan evaluation, and emerging methods used by planners.
PLAN 6070 - Planning Theory and Practice (3 credits)
In this course students grapple with the dynamic tensions between planning and democracy, the various responses that have been proposed, and planning failures and successes. They explore the development of theories about how we ought to plan, why, and for whom. This course will have additional course requirements compared to PLAN 6070.
PLAN 7040 - Advanced Metropolis (3 credits)
This lecture course focuses on cities as centers of cultural, social, and artistic activity. It considers how we define cities, the forces that create and sustain them, and what makes them culturally distinctive. Istanbul, London, Paris, New York, and Shanghai are studied at their moments of cultural, political or architectural glory.
Urban Design Systems/Ecologies
ARCH 5150 - Global Sustainability (3 credits)
Earth's ecosystems are unraveling at an unprecedented rate, threatening human wellbeing & posing substantial challenges to contemporary society. Designing sustainable practices, institutions, & technologies for a resource-constrained world is our greatest challenge. This integrated and interdisciplinary course prepares students to understand, innovate & lead the efforts necessary to engage in this task. Graduate course will have additional course requirements.
PLAC 5800 / LAR 5290 - Green Infrastructure: Cities (3 credits)
Green infrastructure includes water, habitats, parks, soils, and forests essential for healthy communities and building community resiliency. Working in teams, students conduct field work and determine community needs and opportunities for a city's urban forests, water, recreation and historic and cultural resources. Students then complete a strategic green infrastructure plan for a city.
PLAC 5860 / LAR 5280 - Green Infrastructure: Sites (3 credits)
Cities have altered natural drainage patterns, vegetation, local climate and habitats. Cities can use natural elements such as plants, trees and wetlands combined with engineered structures as “constructed green infrastructure” to redesign degraded urban sites. Students will utilize “green infrastructure” to create conceptual designs for sites to absorb stormwater, clean the air, or provide food and recreation.
PLAN 5500 - Climate Adaptation Planning (3 credits)
Adaptation refers to actions taken at the individual. Local, regional, and national levels to reduce the risks posed by a changing climate. This course contrasts the theory and academic research of climate adaptation planning with the state of practice in communities around Virginia. Anticipated impacts such as sea level rise, heat waves, and coastal storms will be explored as well as implications for natural ecosystems and urban infrastructures. Topic varies from semester to semester
PLAN 5500 - Informal Urbanism (3 credits)
The growth of the informal sector worldwide has led to a polarization between formal and informal practices. Although informal urban practices and its multifarious related activities contribute significantly to cities' development, it is often stigmatized as an urban mistake, and little is known about them. By exploring the informal city as a site for critical analysis, this course will investigate informal urban practices' economic, social, spatial, and environmental dimensions and their role in the creative production of cities, resilience, and spatial justice. Topic varies from semester to semester
PLAN 5840 - Ethics and Environment (3 credits)
Course materials cover a wide range of topics in environmental and urban ethics, including contrasting views of the market, the rights of animals and nature, and obligations to future generations. Besides extensive readings, students complete an ethics interview, an applied ethics analysis, and a personal ethical statement.
PLAN 6860 - Cities and Nature: Planning for Biophilic Cities (3 credits)
This class studies and discusses the positive effects and pathways by which nature can compliment and enhance urban lives. The concept of Biophilic Cities is reviewed by studying projects, which develop the tools, techniques, and policies of Biophilic Design.
Urban Design Policy/Economics/ Community Engagement
PLAC 5250 - Applied Real Estate Studio (4 credits)
The course emulates the real estate development process in a specific geographic and socio-economic setting. In this studio, students will form small teams assigned to develop a project for a specific site. The students begin with site analysis, develop a proposed "product," conduct all the key financial analyses, and identify and develop the materials that would be necessary to move the project through public approval.
PLAC 5240 - Collaborative Planning for Sustainability (3 credits)
This course proposes that communities can only be sustained by informed participation of citizens actively engaged in self-governance. Public decisions are better when developed by processes that are inclusive, transparent, and inviting, and responsive to community needs.
PLAC 5720 - Transportation and Land Use (3 credits)
This course examines the relationships between transportation, land use, and urban form by developing a transportation-land use plan focused on a major transportation and development issue. The study of history, theory, and current case studies is contrasted by fieldwork, interviews, and remotely sensed data.
PLAN 5200 - Real Estate Develop Process (3 credits)
Foundational course for SARC real estate offerings. Covers fundamentals from basic real estate relationships, land acquisition decisions, "the cash cycle", legal aspects, public processes including entitlements, risk management, ethics, and preliminary feasibility analysis. The emphasis is on the creation of value in real estate (viewed holistically as financial profit informed by equity, sustainability, and design.
PLAN 5220 - Real Estate Finance Fundamentals (3 credits)
Finance is a critical element in determining whether a real estate development project goes forward and whether the project actually looks and performs in accordance with the original design and social/economic objectives. In this course, students will learn the fundamental analyses of real estate finance and develop an understanding of the ways finance impacts upon project completion and architectural and community outcomes.
PLAN 5600 - Land Use and Growth Management (3 credits)
Introduces the theory and practice of land use planning and growth management as they have evolved historically and as expressed in contemporary practice. Addresses the need and rationale for land use planning as well as its tools.
PLAN 5810 - Sustainable Community Design (3 credits)
What are the impacts that development practices have on our globe and its inhabitants? This course considers the history, theory, and practice of sustainability, one of the most powerful ethics-driven concepts ever to take hold in the marketplace, focusing on how the tensions of economy, ecology, and equity play out in sustainable design practice.
PLAN 6020 – Methods of Community Engagement and Research (3 credits)
This course explores the ethics and methods available for practitioners intending to work in/with communities. Traditional methods used in community partnerships are studied along with more recent strategies such as asset mapping, visual preference surveys, games, art-based visioning to build empathic skills.
PLAN 6050 - Law, Land and the Environment (3 credits)
This course examines major legal issues surrounding land use planning and environmental protection. Intended to introduce students to critical legal concepts (e.g., due process, precedent, standing) as well as the parameters set for planning by the US Constitution, key Constitutional amendments, and various statutes including main federal environmental laws. Where appropriate state level laws and cases are reviewed.
PLAN 6070 - Planning Theory and Practice (3 credits)
Planners are often caught between serving the “public interest” and powerful economic and political forces. In this course, students measure the dynamic tensions between planning and democracy by critically reviewing examples that succeeded or failed. Students debate how we ought to plan, why, and for whom.