Master of Science in Architecture
Global urbanization, the proliferation of information technologies, and rapid advances in the human sciences are among the most visible trends of the first decades of the 21st century. Around the world habitats continue to evolve into novel "post-city" formations, generating new paradoxes and redefining the role of the architect. As the skilled artificer of the built environment, the architect must come to terms with these new realities. IIT's new Master of Science in Architecture program positions its investigations in the space opened up between emerging forms of urbanization and existing concepts of architecture, landscape, and cities. Our goal is to develop new and better models for shaping socially, culturally, and ecologically sustainable environments.
The discipline of architecture can no longer rely on received ideas, established typologies, or fashionable design methodologies. Today the challenge of education at all levels is to embrace our generational transformations, and to engage them in such a way as to create new knowledge. The new Master of Science program provides an intellectual climate in which to reflect upon the forces shaping the contemporary world and their implications for architecture, landscape, and urbanism. With a dual commitment to research and reality, we are aware of the imposing nature of the problem at hand, as well as of the degree of understanding that is needed simply to measure or fathom its depth. Through design, the program seeks out and experiments with alternative models for constructing the built environment. Engaged with the real-life conditions represented by public authorities, cultural institutions, and private entities, the curriculum insists upon continuous exchange and debate.
The new Master of Science program seeks to be synthetic and inter-disciplinary in its approach. In contrast to an increasingly compartmentalized design profession divided into disparate realms of expertise, which often diminish the designer's role, the program endeavors to sharpen critical thinking through collaborative and experimental working processes. The intensive three-semester program (including summer semester) is structured around two design-based research studios, an individual or collective thesis project, history and theory seminars, and two master classes. The College of Architecture's colloquia, lectures, and exhibitions expand upon and augment the curriculum.
More inclusive than traditional architectural design, yet more form-oriented than conventional urban planning, our urban-based design program requires the insights of other disciplines. Striving for experimental and exploratory methods demands provocative discourse, distrust of earlier approaches, and the creative invention of new forms for housing vitality and life. In order to achieve this, the program must be global. The new Master of Science program therefore seeks to collaborate with colleagues and institutions worldwide in a collective commitment to shared knowledge and expertise.
This global program is especially well situated within the ever-transforming metropolis of Chicago, a city that provides both the testing ground and the variegated fabric for the program's initiatives. Working with governmental agencies and other public as well as private constituencies, this program will achieve a high degree of reality and immediacy uncommon within academia, while providing partnered agencies with a valuable resource for exploring issues of crucial importance. Research trajectories will vary each semester, but the unifying thread will be the commitment to forge new models, visions, and principles that better fit with emerging technologies, new biological insights, and the changing nature of the metropolis. The goal is to find the right balance between social and economic sustainability on one hand, and, on the other, the creation of a living environment in which the individual will both prosper and thrive. The program and the student must have no lesser ambition.
The Master of Science in Architecture is a three semester program (including one summer semester) that allows students emerging from B.Arch. and M.Arch. programs to earn a master's degree with a research focus by continuing their studies. For some students the program may also lead to further studies and research in the Ph.D. program. Organizing the performance of the "Horizontal Studio" in which students from all programs interact in a laboratory of design-based research projects, supported by seminars, lectures, workshops, and master classes by visiting luminaries, the program is the pivot point of IIT Architecture's new curriculum.
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