Graduate Programs

Master of Urban Design

The graduate program in Urban Design, led by Distinguished Professor Michael Sorkin, is focused on creating new, equitable, beautiful, and sustainable forms and technologies for the city and urban life. Committed to both experiment and amelioration, the two-semester program focuses each year on a New York City site and, after a research visit, on design of a city in a demanding environment abroad.

Believing that there is no grand, unified discourse of the urban, the program offers wide opportunities to engage the unparalleled resources of City University and the City of New York, providing a rich variety of critical perspectives on urbanism.

Applicants to the Urban Design programs should hold a professional degree in either architecture or landscape architecture. Applicants from other backgrounds will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and on demonstration of a high level of design ability.

The program is designed to be completed in two full-time, sequential semesters. At the core of the curriculum is the design studio taught by the program director. This intensely engages a sequence of problems ranging from abstract studies to work on a large New York City site to a project in an interestingly stressed city elsewhere, visited during the semester break. Projects have addressed sites including the Ecuadorian rainforest, Belfast, Tianjin, Nicosia, Johannesburg, New Orleans, Hanoi, Wuhan, Bogota, Tijuana, Biloxi, and Chicago.

A total of four courses is required each semester. The electives are chosen from the remarkable and wide-ranging urban offerings and distinguished faculty at the School of Architecture and City College at large, the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. In recent years, students have had the opportunity to study with Tom Angotti, Marshall Berman, Denise Hoffman Brandt, Joan Copjec, Toni Griffin, Marta Gutman, David Halle, David Harvey, Lily Hoffman, Cindi Katz, Setha Low, Dean MacCannell, Susan Saegert, Neil Smith, Ida Susser, Achva Stein, Mike Wallace, and many more from across CUNY.

Per-semester courseload: 16 credits
Note: For students who desire a longer course of study, it is possible to distribute the credits over up to three semesters with the required studio and theory courses taken during the first two semesters.

TOTAL PROGRAM CREDITS: 32

ACCREDITATION

The M.U.P. has been registered by the New York State Education Department. The M.U.P. is also accredited, as are other graduate programs at The City College, by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

first Year

Fall Term 1 UD 61001Urban Design Studio I

Working both collaboratively and individually, students will pursue the design of an autonomous city in an abstracted setting. The studio-utopian in mood-investigates principles and practices of city design at regional, urban, neighborhood, and architectural scales and engages a wide variety of analytical, representational, and expressive media.

LAAR 63300Environmental Planning

This course provides an overview of the physical environment of the New York City metropolitan region, including geology, soils, surface water, dominant weather systems, the changing climate, and plant communities, as the basis for an examination of urban infrastructure: circulatory, energy, economic, water supply and management, and solid and liquid waste systems. Large-scale planning initiatives in the New York area are examined from the perspective of how they address the complex local environmental ecologies. Theory and history readings are assigned and discussed weekly to support the class presentations. Each student prepares a colloquium presentation (short paper and slides) on a design practitioner/practice working at the scale of the urban plan. The presentations explore, assess and communicate valuable tactics for ecologically viable design in the urban realm. This course is also an elective in the MS Sustainability in the Urban Environment and Urban Design programs.

UD 00000Elective

There are numerous elective offerings each semester. These may be chosen from the urban offerings and distinguished faculty of City College at large (including urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability programs), the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. For a sampling of recent electives at the Spitzer School, refer to the school schedule.

UD 00000Elective

There are numerous elective offerings each semester. These may be chosen from the urban offerings and distinguished faculty of City College at large (including urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability programs), the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. For a sampling of recent electives at the Spitzer School, refer to the school schedule.

Spring Term 2 UD 62001Urban Design Studio II

The second urban design studio will incorporate strategies and methods developed in the first semester in the investigation of a large urban site in New York City. Drawing on a variety of “real world” influences and sources, students will produce viable designs that investigate the interplay of scale, site, program, and vision.

UD 62007Theory of Urban Design: Radical Urbanism

This course studies key texts and theories of urban design and explores these texts with an emphasis on social and environmental justice. Throughout the semester, we will construct our own collective, contemporary, evolving glossary of urban design, as explored from our readings and transformed your individual research questions.

UD 00000Elective

There are numerous elective offerings each semester. These may be chosen from the urban offerings and distinguished faculty of City College at large (including urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability programs), the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. For a sampling of recent electives at the Spitzer School, refer to the school schedule.

UD 00000Elective

There are numerous elective offerings each semester. These may be chosen from the urban offerings and distinguished faculty of City College at large (including urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability programs), the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College, and the CUNY Graduate Center. For a sampling of recent electives at the Spitzer School, refer to the school schedule.

Mumford Lecture

Each spring, the Urban Design Program presents the Lewis Mumford Lecture and seminar. Named for writer, architecture critic, and urbanist Lewis Mumford, who attended City College, the series invites the world’s most distinguished urbanists to speak freely and publicly about the future of cities in the grand setting of City College’s Great Hall.

  • 2015 Rebecca Solnit
  • 2014 Theaster Gates
  • 2013 Marshall Berman
  • 2012 Janette Sadik-Khan
  • 2011 Richard Sennett
  • 2009 Paul Auster
  • 2008 David Harvey
  • 2007 Amartya Sen
  • 2006 Enrique Peñalosa
  • 2005 Mike Davis
  • 2004 Jane Jacobs