MS UCD Specialization
UCD News & Schedule
2014 Shanghai Studio
2013 PIL Seminar
Established on a foundation of tradition, history and theory, the UCD seeks to push these limits in an attempt to solve the more complicated intricacies of the current American city. At no other time has there been more opportunity for learning from the past, while exploring the use of metaphorical languages as an application towards deeper hidden meanings embedded in city form.
The College of Architecture at Texas Tech University has a long-standing tie to practice and service-learning. It is from this foundation that new ways of understanding the city are implanted. The program provides three primary drivers for academic study that are integrated, yet individualized based on the student’s area of interest. These are identified as: theory, development, and community.
Theoretical exploration integrates international subject context to inform the American city, often through the use of landscape as an urban metaphor; local development-focused considerations apply business conscious strategies to urban and community-based environments; and local community-driven approaches are explored through the use of mapping, dissecting complex urban issues through grassroots data collection.
The College of Architecture invites students with the intellectual curiosity towards these integrative explorations to join faculty in engaging research leading to new ways of considering the future of the city.
- MaryAlice Torres-MacDonald
- Associate Professor
- Urban + Community Design, Director
Program + Research Themes
The Master of Science in Architecture with a Specialization in Urban and Community Design provides a Local/Development-based track in Lubbock, Texas that responds to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s special report, “Building Community: A New Future for Architecture Education and Practice”. The authors, Ernest Boyer and Lee Mitgang recommend that architecture schools pursue four broad strategies:
- establish a climate of engagement
- clarify the public benefits of architecture
- promote the creation of new knowledge
- stress the critical importance of ethical professional behavior
The College of Architecture in partnership with the community pursues these goals through Urban Tech, the downtown studio, currently located at the Texas Tech Downtown Center in Lubbock, Texas. The program’s goals are further met by engaging the public through exhibitions and surveys as part of the First Friday Art Trails, hosting public lecturers, coordinating public events such as “World Cafes”, tours and design charrettes that seek to expose students to real-world application.
In addition, Urban Tech serves as a resource to the City of Lubbock by researching and envisioning options through specific request of the City Manager, City Councilmembers and participation with the Central Lubbock TIF Boards and the Lubbock Metropolitan Planning Organization. Urban Tech hires research assistants to explore specific community and local government issues, such as the cost, maintenance and sustainability of brick streets. Students present their work and engage the public each month as their projects develop. The student work reflects the public as a client, which broadens the perspective on downtown redevelopment. Students find their participation in Urban Tech as relevant and meaningful.
The UCD program in Houston blends traditional and contemporary urban and community design strategies to develop innovative methods for urban exploration. By capitalizing on the vast urban environment in the nation’s fourth largest city and utilizing it as a laboratory of learning, students become engaged in service-rich urban and community design problems. Houston is culturally diverse with no majority ethnicity and, as the largest city in the nation without zoning, it serves as a palette for experimentation with combined approaches, generated through careful analysis affected by technological, cultural, social and political expressions.
As a contextual palate, the city provides limitless urban conditions, affording the student the ability to explore and expose their creative research ideas, and then test these within the context at the macro/micro scale. Students learn methods of urban inquiry set to real-world practice with the intention of challenging policies that drive the future form and function of the city. Coursework integrates partnerships with local governmental entities, non-profit organizations and management districts to provide a service-learning rich academic experience.
Community engagement is explored at multiple levels from neighborhood grassroots efforts to politically positioned long-range policy considerations. The student is challenged to explore community-based strategies in innovative ways that call to question their validity in the contemporary city. It is this interactive approach that culminates in a process for urban and community design applicable to all cities. Students graduate from this program with tools that can be translated to alternate locales, regionally, nationally and internationally.
“Its time to move beyond simulations of individual agents and their individual minds to consider entire communities of agents”
- - Manuel DeLanda, Philosophy and Simulation, 2011
The UCD program is progressively active in the engagement of strengthening investigative proficiencies into the urban realm, through the lens of contemporary, theoretical and philosophical urban issues. In particular, UCD offers various courses in which students are able to enrich and diversify their understanding of urban theory and cultivate international research exposure and exploration. According to the UN-Habitat Report It is projected that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments. Although these global communities are becoming seemingly more and more similar, there are evident discrepancies between various urban models.
Fundamentally, the program initiates an understanding of past Classical approaches to city planning, such as Paris and Beijing and their inherent theoretical contexts in which urban components are organized upon a global top-down logic. Rather than replicating historical models, UCD suggests alternative solutions to the conventional and widely accepted standards of urban planning models. Furthermore, urban theory seminars and international urban design studios seek radical shifts in organizational arrangements by identifying new systems of urban structures determined by communities of interacting urban-agents. The theory and international component to the program operates and aligns itself along an ideological discourse based upon notions of landscape as metaphor. Capable of responding to transformative behaviors, much like that of microorganisms, a redetermination of the newly emerged discipline of landscape urbanism methods allows for identifying innovative strategies of re-structuring highly dense urban horizontal topographies. Topics of varying research focus include landscape urbanism, urban infrastructures, urban aggregations, fragmented metropolis, community development, streetscapes, and radical systematic urban patterns.
- MaryAlice Torres-MacDonald
- Urban + Community Design, Director
- Mari Michael Glassell
- Urban + Community Design, Coordinator