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Master of Science in Design in Advanced Architectural Design

University of Pennsylvania
Stuart Weitzman School of Design
Philadelphia, PA
United States
Architecture & Design

The Master of Science in Design (MSD) with a concentration in Advanced Architectural Design (AAD) is a post-professional degree launched in academic year 2016-2017. It replaces the former Post-Professional in Design (PPD) program by offering students a three-semester studio-based sequence aimed at innovation in advanced architectural design.

The Master of Science in Design with a concentration in Advanced Architectural Design [MSD-AAD] is a three-semester post-professional degree for advanced students who have already earned a professional degree or are practicing in the field. Our curriculum emphasizes innovation in architectural design with material significance through a sequence that moves from design research to fabrication.

The purpose of the MSD-AAD is four-fold: 1) To prepare students for high level contemporary design research in the profession or academy 2) To develop skills in emerging design techniques and cross-disciplinary tools 3) To foster critical engagement with technology in conversation with contemporary architectural discourse and theory 4) To integrate advanced digital modeling techniques in a design methodology that has direct bearing on material production, fabrication, and construction processes and aesthetics.

The MSD-AAD program begins with a mandatory ten-day workshop in design technique to build a foundation of shared skills. A coordinated semester of advanced architectural design and complementary courses in theory and design innovation follow. In the second term, students select a design studio and seminar within the focus of the program from the wide range of courses offered by the Weitzman School of Design, and they receive continued education in contemporary cultural issues in architecture including visual literacy and new materials. The third and final semester concentrates on the material, concluding with a design studio centered around large-scale fabrications combined with courses focused on aesthetics and production.

The program cultivates a strong design culture with a focus on buildings and supplements curricular goals through external lectures, critiques of student work, exhibitions and publications that supplement the atmosphere and culture of the program.

Starting in the 2020-2021 academic year, the three-semester program is being offered over the course of one calendar year (with Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters) to increase the intensity of study and reduce the amount of time students spend away from the workplace.


MSD-AAD // Curriculum

Term 1 – Fall

ARCH 7030 (703) MSD- AAD Design Studio. Coordinated (2 cu)
ARCH 7100 (710) Contemporary Theory from 1989-Present (1 cu)
ARCH 7410 (741) Design Innovation (1 cu)
ARCH xxx Elective I (1 cu)

Term 2 – Spring

ARCH 7050 (705) MSD- AAD Design Research Studio. Designated Elective. (2 cu)
ARCH 7330 (733): New Materials and Methods (1 cu)
ARCH 7200 (720): Visual Literacy and Its Culture (1 cu)
ARCH xxx: Elective II (1 cu)

Term 3 – Summer

ARCH 7070 (707): MSD- AAD Fabrication Studio. Designated Elective. (2 cu)
ARCH 7150 (715): Contemporary Aesthetics Theory (1 cu)
ARCH 7470 (747): Robotic Fabrication (1 cu)

Total Course Units: 14


MSD-AAD // Sequence
The first semester includes a coordinated design research studio, which incorporates a study trip, and two dedicated seminars with one elective seminar. After the first semester, the students select from a range of designated design research studios that focus on advanced issues of architectural design and fabrication and two dedicated seminars and an elective seminar that develop a cogent field of study on advanced issues of contemporary architecture. One of the required seminars assists students in developing a research paper on a topic that leads to the final design studio project. The final semester designated design studio focuses on a large-scale fabrication project and serves as the capstone project for the program. During this term there are also two dedicated courses to further the development of student’s design research. All the studios and seminars are taught by internationally acclaimed architects, professors and lecturers.

The one calendar year three semester program allows students to study a wide range of new digital design techniques to challenge current critical thinking, philosophy, theory, and to experiment with digital fabrication used in the production of complex forms. The work of the semester is published with theoretical texts by faculty and visitors that offers a comprehensive overview of the students’ ability to research and design rigorous architecture. The work is further evaluated in an event at the end of each semester semester, where design professionals of international acclaim are invited to discuss and critique the work of the students.


MSD-AAD // Publications & Exhibitions
The program prides itself on publications of the work of the students as well as theoretical texts written by invited participants. The most recent publications are Asset Architecture 1 (2015), Asset Architecture 2 (2016), and Asset Architecture 3 (2018) published by ORO Editions. The forthcoming book titled “Future Airports” compiling two years of design research on the topics of the future airport will be published in spring 2020. MSD​-AAD student work has won international competitions and has been published widely by the national and international press. The design work has also been exhibited nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and academic institutions.

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General information
3 semester
Ali Rahim
Not confirmed
Email /
+1 215.898.6520
210 S 34th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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