University of Southern California (USC)

University of Southern California (USC)

Los Angeles, CA


New Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies Leverages Design Research to Radically Rethink Urban Equity and Design Technologies

Alvin Huang, AIA
Nov 23, '22 12:32 PM EST

The University of Southern California School of Architecture has recently launched a new 1-year post-graduate program that offers two concentrations focused on leveraging design research, innovation, and technology to tackle some of the most pressing issues in contemporary society: housing and sustainability.

The new Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies (M.AARS) program is a 12-month, three-semester post-professional graduate degree, with concentrations in either City Design + Housing (CDH) or Performative Design + Technology (PDT), that challenges students with existing professional degrees in architecture to focus on design as a form of focused and specialized research.

“It is clear that the most pressing issues our society faces are directly impacted by the design of the built environment. The new M.AARS programs provide post-graduates an opportunity to become design specialists with focused expertise regarding issues of urban equity and design technologies,” says Alvin Huang, Director of Graduate Architecture Programs at USC.

”As architects, we see design research as more than production. It is an opportunity to leverage our skill sets to contribute to a broader collective body of knowledge that radically rethinks the ways in which we design, inhabit, and build,” says Huang. 

Equitable and sustainable city design and housing production

The M.AARS concentration in City Design & Housing (CDH) focuses on inclusive and equitable city design and housing production. Operating under the premise that housing and access to the city is a right, the CDH program proactively engages the current crises in urban development and housing provision with research and design solutions, both locally and globally.

Questioning the dominant mechanisms, frameworks, and trends that shape our cities and settlements through the lens of spatial and social justice, the program will study, explore and envision alternative modes of designing cities and their residential housing stocks.

“With the M.AARS CDH program, we not only offer an opportunity to engage with contemporary and future urban challenges through the lens of social and environmental equity and inclusion. We also seek to go about these issues by using and expanding our skills beyond common notions of city-making. Applying our design and research capabilities in a systemic and innovative manner, we aspire to take a fresh and critical take on how cities and housing for all might work, function, and look like.” said Assistant Professor Sascha Delz, who coordinates the CDH program.

The program’s focus on combining urban research and city design with issues of social and spatial justice caters to individuals who seek to actively engage contemporary urban challenges in a comprehensive manner, who aim at improving their analytical and design skills to adequately operate and innovate within the urban realm, and who would like to bring back these critical perspectives into their practice in the private and public sectors.

Leveraging emerging design technologies to enable a performance-driven and resource-efficient future

The M.AARS concentration in Performative Design & Technology (PDT) focuses on the integration of technology within the digital design process. The PDT program seeks to explore the role of data and technology in the built environment. The program merges architectural and parametric design to focus on scholarly research and professional development in relevant areas that are affecting the built environment of today and which are shaping the built environment of tomorrow.

The primary objective of the degree curriculum is to provide students the opportunity to become familiar with the emerging design, analysis, simulation, fabrication, and technologies that are shaping the future of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC).

This expertise will synthesize data visualization and analysis, parametric modeling, digital fabrication, environmental and energy simulation, structural analysis, post-occupancy evaluation, and monitoring. Students will be expected to understand the critical methodological principles and strategies necessary for a professional engaged in leading the AEC industry towards a performance-driven and resource-efficient future.

The program is now accepting applications for the Fall 2023 cohort.

See the full description and curriculum of the Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies.

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