The Certificate Program | Admission | Curriculum | Program Faculty | For Current Students | FAQ for Students | Student Theses | Wolfe Endowment & Copeland Scholarship
Urban design is both a product and a process.
As a product, urban design ranges in scale from parts of an environment, such as a streetscape, to the larger wholes of districts, towns, cities, or regions. Urban design is manifest in all aspects of the physical environment, including form, space, movement, time, activity patterns, and setting. The urban design of a place involves what the place looks like, how it feels, what it means, and how it works for people who use it. Among other things, the urban designer is concerned with the sensory and cognitive relationships between people and their environment, with how people's needs, values, and aspirations can best be accommodated in built forms.
As a process and a conscious act, urban design involves the art of shaping the built landscape which has been formed over time by many different actors. Urban design is not primarily an individual's act, but is a civic, collective activity. The clients of urban design, public and private, may be specific or multiple. Urban design tasks may have definite ends or be ongoing, and implementation may or may not be under the designer's whole or partial control. Urban design is a profession and field of study concerned with design ideas and possibilities, with community choices and decisions, and with the urban development process. In short, it has to do with the processes for shaping environments and with the experiential quality of the physical forms and spaces that result.
The Program was first developed in the late 1960s. It has evolved in response to demands for knowledge and skills in the professional marketplace and in the face of growing specialization of architectural and planning education, to maintain the natural and necessary link between the fields. Today the program is a vital, integral resource in the College of Built Environments, operating both as a specialization and as an enrichment program. It provides a framework for graduate students to specialize in urban design as part of their professional education. As such, this two-year program (which runs concurrently with the student's degree program) leads to the Certificate of Achievement in Urban Design awarded with a Master's degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture or Urban Planning. A one-year program is available for students holding a Bachelor of Architecture or a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (five-year Professional Degrees) and wishing to earn a Master of Architecture or Landscape Architecture with a Certificate of Achievement in Urban Design.
Also eligible are students in the professional five-year program in Landscape Architecture (BLA), the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Urban Design and Planning, and the Ph.D. in the Built Environment.
For those students in the College who do not wish to specialize in urban design, the Program offers coursework opportunities to enrich their education.
To support this orientation, the Urban Design curriculum does not involve the design of large-scale architectural projects. Not solely directed to the design of downtown settings, it also includes urban and suburban neighborhoods, suburban towns, small towns, and rural areas.
Other Opportunities: Faculty and students have also arranged foreign studies in other countries, such Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, India, England, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Cuba, and Mexico, and regional excursions to Alaska, B.C., Oregon, and California.
The Program normally requires seven quarters of study. Applicants without sufficient design background should anticipate spending additional time (one to three quarters) at the University of Washington.
Candidates without a physical design background may, in unusual circumstances, be awarded the Certificate of Achievement in Urban Design where a specialized program of advanced study in urban design (research, history, law and implementation, urban development) has been approved by the urban design faculty.
Candidates who intend to pursue a program of studies in urban design should state this objective clearly in the statement of purpose required in the application to the selected home department.
In summary, applicants will be eligible to participate in the Urban Design Program if (1) they have been accepted for graduate work by the Department of Architecture, Landscape Architecture or Urban Design and Planning, the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, or one of the College's Ph.D. programs, and if (2) they possess or gain the necessary physical design abilities prior to participation in advanced (final year) urban design studios.
Upon acceptance in any of these participating programs, students interested in obtaining a Certificate in Urban Design must complete a Statement of Interest for the Program. This can be done during the first week of instruction of the two-year programs or any time during the first year of the three-year programs.
The curriculum in urban design normally consists of 12–15 credits of study. These credits must be for courses that are not required by the student's degree program, though they may be elective credits and part of the total number of credits required for the student's degree. "Selectives" also do not count towards the 12–15 credits, though we do ask students to choose an urban design selective were they have such an option.
These 12–15 credits differ depending on the requirements of the student's degree. There is an overall structure for the certificate of a required core curriculum complemented by mandatory courses in four areas to provide the student with a firm grounding in theory, methods, and practical skills. Special emphasis is placed on studios where a variety of topics and approaches to urban design are offered as opportunities for the student to synthesize and apply knowledge obtained in other program courses. Thus students need to carefully choose courses both in the certificate program and in their home degree program to complete their study.
Students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for all urban design course requirements in order to obtain the certificate. To fulfill the certificate requirements, the thesis topic must have an approved urban design component and the student's committee must be chaired by a member of the urban design faculty.
The certificate credits may count as elective credits for degree programs. The 12–15 credits also does not include any necessary preparatory work in graphic design.
The lists below include a mix of courses required for the degree and supplementary urban design courses to include: 5 core requirements, 3 Urban Design studios, 6 courses from the mandatory course areas, student review, master's thesis.
* 498 and 598 course numbers will be changing.
** Master's and PhD students who wish to count 300-level courses toward the certificate must additionally take 1 credit of directed study in addition to the course.
† Urban Design Composition and Urban Design Studio Methods in combination may not be a student's sole urban design methods courses.
Cascade Neighborhood Development Plan—Working with the Cascade Neighborhood Council, develop a Neighborhood Resource Map, a Neighborhood Vision Map, and design a series of projects which illustrate the physical livability and the financial feasibility of possible development in a mixed industrial, business and low- to moderate-income residential area.
Central Area Economic Development—Investigate the feasibility and contribution of economic development proposals for the Central Area of Seattle, an area ill-defined geographically, functionally, economically, and visually, which is also suffering problems of social, economic, and physical deterioration. Provide a master plans, specific site project designs, and implementation strategies for the area.
Edges and Increments: Urban Villages—Investigate edges as indicators of connections between built form and investigate the process and state of incremental development-both critical patterns and relationships-within the University District and Northgate, two of the proposed urban villages located within the City of Seattle.
Intervention at Interbay—The application of mixed-use, transit-oriented development to an underutilized industrial and maritime area of Seattle, using concepts from urban villages, Traditional Neighborhood Design, and Pedestrian Pockets, stressing both building and urban typology.
"Soft Cities"—Landscape Design of Communities—Investigation of methods and techniques for developing physical design and implementation strategies to create "liveable communities," concentrating on existing or infilling communities by investigating how "good" community design is achieved in the political process, and focusing on rebuilding communities to enhance walking, bicycling, car pooling, transit and high occupant vehicle travel through densification, mixing uses, adding facilities, restricting access, etc.
The Town Within the City—An Architecture of Place for the Magnolia Neighborhood Business District—A case study exploring the importance of the neighborhood business district for community life appropriate for a post-functionalist view of the city, focusing on the relationships between people, place, and work, generating new architectural typologies that will further a sense of community, countering the current fragmentation and specialization that current "metro-imperalism" exemplifies.
For further information or to receive this information in printed format, write:
Interdisciplinary Certificate Programs
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-5740
College of Built Environments | University of Washington