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College of Architecture and Planning University of Colorado Denver

College of Architecture & Planning
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M UD

College of Architecture + Planning


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IMPORTANT: The MUD program is part of WICHE-WRGP, which allows residents of any of the 15 member states​ to pay only Colorado resident tuition. Read here for more information. Students who are residents of non-WICHE states can qualify for resident tuition after one year of Colorado residency ​


THE DEGREE
 

The master of urban design (MUD) is an intensive, calendar year, post-professional degree program for students already holding a first professional degree in architecture, landscape architecture or urban and regional planning (e.g., BArch, BLA, MArch, MLA, MCRP/MURP or equivalents). The interdisciplinary program uses Denver as an urban laboratory but the globe as a reference, educating future designers about the unique place the city holds in addressing the critical problems of our time.

The program began in 1969 and counts several hundred alumni practicing around the world, including renowned designers like Jun Xia (’89), Principal of Gensler Shanghai and designer of the new Shanghai Tower

Our student body is extremely diverse, with recent students from Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Japan, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These students join our domestic students (many of whom receive significantly reduced tuition through our WICHE-WRGP statusto examine contemporary urbanism and design practice through an interdisciplinary, studio-based curriculum taught by a multi-disciplinary faculty​. Coursework is capped off by the International Studio held each summer when students travel to study in China's rapidly urbanizing Shanghai-Nanjing corridor or in the dense central neighborhoods of Copenhagen, Denmark.


CENTRAL THEMES

The Urban Design program is organized around three central themes reinforced by core studios and seminars:

SUSTAINABLE CITIES

We take a holistic approach to designing the livable city. Since more than half the world’s population lives in cities, with that number set to increase to two-thirds by 2030, we must anticipate the ecological impacts of our design decisions. In preparation for a post-carbon era, we address concerns related to climate change, energy usage, public health, food production and resource availability through an integrated approach to the design of urban settlements. 

Our students re-imagine and re-interpret urban systems – from transportation networks to hydrological systems to zoning codes to social movements  – with the goal of creating cities that are at once socially just, economically diverse and ecologically resilient. These challenges are unprecedented and must be urgently addressed: we believe that urban designers are best positioned to meet them head on.

LOCAL TO GLOBAL

We believe urban designers must recognize the interrelated local and global impacts of their actions and understand the interdisciplinary nature of urban problems. We address design issues at all scales, from the individual public space to the neighborhood, city, region, nation and world. This ecological approach acknowledges that all sites are embedded within larger systems, a concept we engage in all our studios. 

In the Fall and Spring, students examine the Denver metropolitan area, a progressive, yet prototypical, urban laboratory experiencing significant growth and development and home to every urban condition imaginable, from dense downtown infill to sprawling edge cities to the New Urbanism-inspired Stapleton airport brownfield redevelopment. The Front Range is a national leader in design and planning innovation, as represented by the multi-billion dollar Fastracks transit projectDenver’s groundbreaking new citywide form-based codeBoulder’s open space acquisition policies and energy municipalization effortArvada’s GEOS net-zero energy neighborhood, and Fort Collins’s closed-loop brewery-oriented development. Students apply the skills and knowledge gained in their local study in the summer term in a joint studio set in either the Shanghai-Nanjing corridor with faculty and students from the nation’s top schools of architecture and design at Tongji and Southeast University.or in the dense urban core of Copenhagen, Denmark with faculty and students at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad​ (DIS).


INNOVATIONS IN PRACTICE

We train our students to become critical, reflective professionals with a deep understanding of urban design theory and practice. All our graduates possess knowledge of contemporary urban thinking as well as exceptional technical, verbal and graphic communication skills. Our curriculum is informed by innovations in current practice: we undertake real projects with real clients, and all studios are taught by leading practitioners from the top design firms in the region. Each year, we bring in a renowned practitioner-in-residence to teach a core course, give lectures, and serve as a juror in all MUD studios. To address the most complex social-ecological problems of our time, we see high demand for graduates who possess multiple talents, a broad understanding of urban planning, architecture, landscape, real estate development, and urban politics and economics, and the ability to work not only with design professionals but also engineers, policy makers, environmental scientists and the public. 

Students take collaborative, multidisciplinary studios with all College of Architecture and Planning students in an environment that more accurately reflects professional practice, with shorter studios, team projects, and design charrettes. Importantly, our MUD Internship Program aims to place all incoming students into an internship with the region’s top design firms. 

Participating firms have included: AECOMCivitasDesign WorkshopNorris DesignRNL DesignOZ ArchitecturestudioINSITE, and Tryba ArchitectsCollege units including the Colorado Center for Community Development​ (CCCD) frequently hire MUD students as research assistants (RAs) and the Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning and Design often hire teaching assistants (TAs) from our incoming MUD students. ​

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