Two of the biggest interconnected challenges of our time, how to live sustainably on this planet and how to be effective stewards of the environment, are as much problems for the design professions as they are questions for science and engineering. Sustainability and the environment present challenges that are as broadly cultural as they are technical. Sustainability and the environment are as much the problems of the fine arts, philosophy, the humanities, journalism, business, and of course architects, as they are problems for scientists and engineers.


Architecture is uniquely situated to wrestle with these issues. Architects work collaboratively to engage and synthesize broad bodies of knowledge in the design of solutions to these challenges. “Collaborative Education for a Sustainable Future” is the School’s motto and reflects an aspiration held by our entire community. Architects today must be well-educated critical-thinkers and problem-solvers who possess and can effectively apply highly refined aesthetic and technical knowledge.


Our students’ performance is the most effective measure of our success.


In the fall of 2011, a team of 200 Maryland students, faculty and mentors from multiple disciplines designed and built WaterShed to blend solar energy efficiency and water conservation. They drew their inspiration from the Chesapeake Bay. Panels of experts judged the competing entries on ten dimensions, and WaterShed came in first overall, and placed first in Architecture, Energy Balance and Hot Water. The accomplishments of the WaterShed team, lead by Associate Professor Amy Gardner, AIA, are a testament to our program’s commitment and achievements in the arena of sustainability and environmental stewardship.


Check out the book Inspired Innovation: WaterShed at the University of Maryland, which documents the process from concept to victory (available in PDF below). If you'd like to purchase your own copy of the book, download the form below.


We invite you to join us on our journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally balanced world. Welcome to Maryland’s Architecture Program!


Brian Kelly, AIA

Professor and Director

Architecture Program


Keep up to date with the activities in the Architecture Program by vising our calendar.

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Watershed Book Gensler (WatershedBookGensler.pdf)
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Watershed Book Purchase Form (InspiredInnovationorderform.pdf)

The Architecture Program

The Architecture curriculum is structured to expose students to the comprehensive theoretical, historical, technological, professional and social issues that play a role in the design of the built environment. The initial years of the curriculum are designed to provide a solid foundation for an architectural education. First-year studios introduce students to the elements and principles of architectural design, with studio projects that build skills, encourage critical thought and discourse, and serve as a vehicle for the integration of knowledge gained in courses outside of studio.


Maryland's reputation as a leader in design education has been built upon a solid conviction that the intellectual processes of design are inextricably interwoven with and informed by knowledge of building and construction. Maryland has maintained a long-standing tradition of stressing personal competence and excellence in both design and technology.

The Integrated Design Studio (originally called the Comprehensive Design Studio), the gateway semester between the Foundation Studios and the Advanced Graduate Studios, received national recognition in 1995 from the American Institute of Architects Education Honors Program. The AIA award recognizes significant achievement in the formulation, implementation and outcome of architectural instruction.


The Comprehensive Design Studio provides an innovative approach to the study of architectural design. Students explore the relationship between the conceptual and technical aspects of architectural form and its assembly.  Students are simultaneously enrolled in an Advanced Technology course that focuses upon building systems integration. In the studio, the projects are elemental enough to allow students to progress through advanced stages of design development, yet complex enough to require a systematic exploration of building systems. Unique to the Comprehensive Design Studio are the large scale models and drawings that students use to further explore the reality of their design intentions. Through the crafting of a series of large-scale models and the integration of digital media, students gain a vivid impression of the interaction between building elements and their assembly. Throughout this process, students are guided by faculty members whose experience in both design and building have gained national recognition.


The Architecture department's pedagogy is complemented by the faculty's expertise in Urban Design. Relationships between buildings and their urban contexts are thematically woven throughout the curriculum at Maryland. Baltimore, Washington and the Northeast Corridor are a laboratory for the study of urban design. Maryland's faculty, which has gained an international reputation for practice and research in the field, selects projects that illuminate both the historical and contemporary issues of design in an urban environment.


Student and faculty work has been recognized by numerous national awards including an unprecedented number of Charter Awards from the Congress of the New Urbanism (CNU) for student projects, as well as an impressive collection of CNU and American Institute of Architects awards for faculty work. New Urban News ranked the School’s urban design programs one of the top in the nation in 2006, and noted that it was the only program in the country housed with departments of Planning, Preservation and Real Estate Development in one school.


Students enrolled in the Master of Architecture Program can pursue a Certificate in Urban Design. Post-professional degree students can enroll in an advanced Master of Science in Architecture program with a focus in urban design. Experts from government, business and planning, readily available within the region, serve to enrich the studio courses.

Students who wish to explore the heritage of our built environment gain hands-on experience at continuing preservation programs in Cape May, New Jersey, and at Kiplin Hall in England, while earning credit toward a Certificate in Historic Preservation


Students also may enroll in courses offered by the Real Estate Development program, such as: finance, market analysis, land entitlements, property and asset management, construction management and more.


The Masters Thesis is the culmination of graduate studies in architecture. This two-semester individual project begins with background research, site selection and preliminary design in consultation with a faculty committee. The second semester entails an extensive design process that requires students to demonstrate their competence in dealing with issues of context, use, technique and symbolic form. Professionals and academics of national and international acclaim participate in final reviews for thesis projects.