About Architecture


We are passionate about what we do, and what we do is educate architects and designers to create a more sustainable future, provide the much-needed leadership to get us there, advocate for social justice, and celebrate our diversity. 

We do all of this through the exploration of architecture and urbanism here in College Park, in our nearby nation's capital, Washington, DC, in great post-industrial cities like Baltimore, historic colonial cities like Annapolis, and in numerous communities throughout the state of Maryland. We have strategic partnerships with ISI Florence, where we offer semester abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students alike. We also conduct short-term summer and winter programs to Scandinavia, Rome, St. Petersburg, and an ongoing archaeological program in Castellammare di Stabiae (ancient Stabiae, near Naples, Italy). We engage students from the minute they enter our programs as undergraduates on meaningful design projects and we work to place our graduates in some of the most prestigious firms in the world. Become part of this amazing team.

We invite you to join us on our journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally balanced world. We challenge you to take up the mantle of leadership. Join us in Maryland’s Architecture Program. We know you will find that our architecture program will open doors for you!  

Mohammad Gharipour, PhD
Professor and Director
Architecture Program


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

The best way to get to know us is by visiting us in College Park. Schedule a visit today.

For a website accessible version of the PDF attachments found at the bottom of the page, contact Jelena Dakovic at jdakovic@umd.edu.

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 Integrated 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 on urban design. Experts from government, business and planning are readily available within the region and 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 master's 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.

Designing a More Sustainable Future

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. 

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 sustainable design. For example, in the fall of 2011, a team of 200 Maryland students, faculty, and mentors from multiple disciplines designed and built WaterShed for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 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 the Architecture, Energy Balance and Hot Water categories. A more recent example is the solar-powered house that blends Native American principles with cutting-edge technologies and modular design that won second place at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2017.

UMD's interdisciplinary team of students beat nine other teams from academic institutions around the globe, and was the number one U.S. entry in the competition.

In 2015 and again in 2016, students in the Architecture Program captured national honors in the AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten for Students Design Competition. Likewise in 2014 and 2015, teams of students from the Architecture Program, Real Estate Development Program, Urban Studies and Planning Program, and Landscape Architecture Program competed with other schools internationally and won top honors in the Gerald D. Hines / Urban Land Institute Competition.

Don't think that the world can change?  Don't believe in natural forces threatening our very existence? Check out the exciting work by Maryland Architecture students at Restoring Ancient Stabiae, a town buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Educating Tomorrow's Leaders Today

So how are we going to get to a sustainable future? That will require great leaders who possess the knowledge and skills to get us there. At the University of Maryland, we educate students to become tomorrow’s leaders in architecture and its allied design professions. Our network of leaders in practice is not bound by our geographical location, although the Washington-Baltimore region is perhaps one of the best locales in the nation in which to teach, learn, and practice architecture.

One alumnus who is taking a leadership role in moving us toward a more sustainable future is Carl Elefante, FAIA (B. ARCH, ’80). In 2017 Carl was elected by a national constituency to serve as the 2018 President of the American Institute of Architects. He is well known for coining the phrase, “The greenest building is one that’s already built.” Carl’s expertise in architecture, sustainability, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse propelled him to capture the attention of architects nationwide. His ability to analyze and frame problems, articulate clear solutions, and to rally others was part of the reason that Carl won this coveted national position. See for yourself as Carl addressed those assembled at AIA’s 2016 Grassroots event. 

Who are the leaders in Gensler, one of the largest American design and architecture firms? The answer is three Terrapins: Joe Brancato, AIA, (B. ARCH, ’80) regional managing principal (New York); Jordan Goldstein, AIA, (B.S. ARCH, ’94), regional managing principal (Washington, DC); and Kevin Heinly, AIA (M. ARCH, ’94) managing director, Principal (San Diego). Gensler is a global leader in sustainable design and our graduates are highly sought after to fill positions in this firm as well as many other well-known practices across the nation.

Melanie Hennigan, AIA (B.S. ARCH, ’83 / M. ARCH, ’87), is president of Grimm + Parker, one of the most highly awarded architecture firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. Melanie combines her passion for architecture with building a community of practitioners that value the balance between work and life commitments. Grimm + Parker has shown that design excellence and a family-friendly workplace go hand in hand. Lisa London, AIA (B. ARCH, ‘82) is president and CEO of edifice | solutions, an innovative design-build firm that she built from the ground up, specializing in work for the federal government. Both Lisa and Melanie were recent participants in a symposium held at the school titled Women Leading Architecture. Both Melanie and Lisa's firms specialize in delivering sustainable high-performance buildings to their clients. 

But we can’t get there through architecture alone. Consider Jacob R. “Jake” Day, a 2004 alumnus of our B.S. in Architecture Program. During Jake’s senior year he was elected national president of the American Institute of Architecture Students (one of three Maryland Alumni to hold this position). When his term was over, Jake studied at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his Master of Urban Design, and University of Oxford, where he received a master’s degree in nature, society and environmental policy. Jake returned to his native Salisbury on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he worked as town planning manager and director of the center for towns at the Eastern Shore Conservancy. While he was working with small towns to improve economic conditions and save their fragile heritage, Jake enrolled in the U.S. Army Officer training program and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Maryland Army National Guard. Jake is not afraid of taking on additional responsibilities; in 2013 he was elected by the citizens of Salisbury (the largest city on the Eastern Shore) to the city council where he served as president. Jake was then elected mayor in 2015. As mayor, Jake has brought to the citizens of Salisbury the revitalization of their downtown core while at the same time considering the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise that will likely impact this community on the Wicomico River. Jake is our proud example of the citizen architect who continues the great legacy of the nation’s first leader in this role, Thomas Jefferson.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice

The Architecture Program is a community of scholars who seek to understand and design physical environments that are meaningful, sustainable, just and beautiful. Our community is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who emanate from all corners of the world and represent a cross-section of humanity. We identify with numerous ethnic and racial groups. Our community represents many belief traditions and world-views. Our colleagues are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning. We are young, we are old and we are everything in between. We are strong as a community because we envision a culture of respect and civility in which we treat one another as we’d wish to be treated ourselves. We see a meaningful, sustainable, just and beautiful future manifest through our differences and ultimately through our exploration of the common ground that unites us as one people. Without this commitment to a celebration of our diversity, we cannot design a physical environment that will achieve our aspirations.

 The Architecture Program is proud of its diversity track record. Over 41 percent  of our students identify as non-white and about half of our students are female. The School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation is similarly diverse, (IRPA) as is illustrated by the 2015 college profile. We are educating the next generation of architects who will build a profession that is more diverse, inclusive and socially responsive. Our community also hosts important discussions about diversity and inclusion both inside and out of the classroom.