May 24, 2022  
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 
    
USC Catalogue 2021-2022

Advanced Architectural Research Studies (City Design and Housing) (MAARS)


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The Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies, City Design and Housing empahsis is a 42-unit multi-disciplinary graduate degree program at the USC School of Architecture that prepares participants to study, analyze and design within complex urban systems. Focusing on the 21st-century city the program will address specific urban challenges through a combination of explorative design studio and advanced topical research. Working across disciplines and at multiple scales, this degree concentration moves between real-world issues and innovative architectural approaches to explore ideas for radically re-thinking the ways in which we can design, build and inhabit our cities in more inclusive and equitable ways.

The program will leverage Los Angeles as a laboratory to examine the forces that shape local and global cities. Addressing a diverse set of factors that are linked to city design and housing – such as urban development and housing policies, real estate and housing finance, history and theory, technology and infrastructure, and ecology and climate change – the program will introduce students to broad methodological tools for critically analyzing contemporary challenges of urban systems and housing and will strengthen their skills to employ research and design to create more equitable, sustainable and resilient urban environments and housing schemes.

The CD+H program’s design and research efforts will be framed by three topical trajectories: a) urban housing (low-cost, collective, affordable, informal, densification, etc.); b) urban inequalities (racial segregation, economic disparities, gentrification, homelessness, digital divide, migration, etc.); and c) urban infrastructures (street design, public transportation, walkability, public space, programmatic and zoning issues, etc.). In addition, the one-year course will switch between the local context of Los Angeles and a selected global city (Latin America, Asia, Africa). In order to more thoroughly study the international context – and potentially establish more sound collaborations with institutions and stakeholders abroad – the same international context will be part of the program in a two or three-year cycle.

Finally, to connect students with real-world contexts, challenges and experiences, the CD+H program seeks to include various travel components throughout the year, which could potentially be linked to the PD+T and SP+SJ cohorts. Semester 1 will incorporate field trips in the Los Angeles and Southern California region. In Semester 2, the program’s focus on an international context will be supplemented by a week-long trip to the respective city. For semester 3, the program intends to provide students the option of an immersive trip in a foreign or domestic location for their final project. The USC School of Architecture is developing the Latin Americas Cities Initiative and Asia Cities Initiative, which will be expected to interface with the MAARS CD+H, PD+T and SP+SJ programs.

Completion of the degree requires 42 units, including 8 units of Architecture Directed Design Research.

Core Requirements (28 units)


This degree is intended for qualified students who have completed a professional degree in architecture (BArch/MArch) with interest in advanced non-professional graduate study pursuing careers in urban design, urban planning, community development, as well as adequate and affordable housing design.

Electives (14 units)


The curriculum is designed to be flexible to allow students to customize elective courses to a specific topic of interest within the thematic framework of the degree program. A list of electives currently offered for all themes is summarized below. Additional electives outside of the School of Architecture are possible upon approval.

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