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College of Architecture + Planning

The College of Architecture and Planning runs extensive study abroad programs, and has partnerships with international universities including Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Tongji University in Shanghai.


Study Abroad programs led by respected faculty members from the College of Architecture and Planning take place every year, sometimes during Winterim and Maymester. The courses and continents vary, offering serious studies on location, for recognized credit hours.

Sample programs have included:

  • Sustainable Tourism in the Slow City: Seferihisar, Turkey
    The curriculum emphasis highlights the city’s historical layers, the Roman heritage, the Byzantian and Ottoman, in terms of urbanization in Turkey’s first certified “slow city. The slow city movement features locally grown food, sustainable living, and decisions made within a local community context. Students learn about urban planning and design policies and their effects.
  • Architecture and Urban Context of Rome, Italy
    Lessons from the culture and city frame a specific understanding of historical buildings and architectural design styles. Classes take advantage of Rome as a contemporary city where historical settings and modern life form an integrated whole.
  • Architecture in Cultures: Thailand
    Studies provide a broad introduction to the cultural and architectural traditions from the vernacular to urbanism, from temples and palaces to the hectic pace of urban Bangkok. Many of the most significant accomplishments in the history of global architecture are represented in this location, where cultural and architectural history spans thousands of years. Students investigate the process of globalization and urbanization and the impact of the built environment.
  • Design Build Construction in Guatemala
    Mayan architects have been wrestling with volcanoes, earthquakes and mudslides for millennia. Similarly, CU Denver students face these challenges as they conduct research and build a school using locally owned, sustainable materials and techniques. They explore all phases necessary to modern design builds: design phase implementation, estimating, scheduling and project management skills required in traditional construction.
  • Design in Other Cultures: Finland
    Finland is recognized internationally for the quality of its design and particularly admired relationship to nature. Students meet and engage with local design professionals and Finnish students. The interdisciplinary lectures, tours, and excursions provide a broad introduction to Finnish design culture; from saunas to urbanism, from forks to chairs, from medieval stone fortresses to unique wooden churches, from the traditional landscape to the formal garden, from national romanticism to modernism and the contemporary scene. In the sketching component of the courses, faculty teach students techniques for recording and analyzing designs, and support development of a “personal drawing style” for each student    

With a generous donation from Don and Maria Johnson, Bixler International Initiatives (BII) supports educational exchanges between Finland, Italy, Japan and the College of Architecture and Planning, including student scholarships, faculty exchanges, visiting lecturers, visiting scholars, architectural exhibitions, and summer study abroad support.​



An exchange program with Tongji University in Shanghai, China, enables students to focus on landscape architecture in a variety of public and private environments. Selected MLA students from CU Denver may spend up to two semesters at Tongji University and MLA students from Tongji may spend up to two semesters at CU Denver. Students who participate in the program take rigorous courses and may participate in an internship experience; they enter the workforce with valuable international experience and connections.


When it comes to sustainability, students and faculty in cities seven thousand miles and an ocean apart—Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Denver, Colorado—share remarkably similar goals. At Dar Al-Hekma University and CAP, students and faculty must develop design solutions for their neighborhoods and cities located in high desert climates, addressing issues of urban sprawl, population growth, water usage, and the protection of fragile eco-systems.

Together, they are finding those solutions through a shared design studio and the attention of Zuhair Fayez, alumnus of CAP and president of the largest architecture/engineering/management firm in Saudi Arabia. Fayez noted that he appreciates the top-quality education that he received from the University of Colorado, and he enjoys giving back to the world of education.

In the projects between CAP and DAH, students design affordable housing for underserved populations in the partnering country. Communication technologies now connect ideas at the speed of satellite, allowing for unprecedented creative ventures between design schools and research centers internationally. Powerful new digital visualization applications can precisely model and specify three-dimensional constructions of buildings and landscapes in virtual time and space. Rapid prototyping systems linked to fabricating machines can test design concepts and create cross-continental transactions of design to actual built environments.

Educational partnerships offer connections between cultures and answers for creating healthier, more sustainable, and more meaningful environments for this century. The next generation of designers and planners at CU Denver and Dar Al-Hekma University are designing better futures for themselves and for a shared world.

(currently on hiatus)

Through an innovative educational program, Gensler, a premier worldwide design firm, in partnership with Tongji University in Shanghai and the University of Colorado Denver, offers internships in the host country for graduate students in architecture, planning, landscape architecture and urban design. Learning experiences in Denver and China extend to projects with large-scale global impact, including Shanghai Tower, which, when completed, will be the second tallest building in the world. 

Jun Xia, Design Director of the Shanghai office, is one of the main visionaries behind the successful partnership and is an alumnus of CAP’s graduate urban design program. He knows that coming to school in America is a big step for any international student — and he can’t say enough good things about his experience.

“From my studies at the College of Architecture and Planning, I learned that the school has a passion for helping international students — I was very warmly accepted,” says Xia. He sees the internship program as giving students from both countries opportunities to become more adaptive and creative, based on the expanded knowledge about an area’s culture, history and people. Graduates of the program are well-prepared to enter today’s competitive global market.

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