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The McGill approach to Urban Design and Housing

McGill’s aim in offering an opportunity to study Urban Design and Housing is to enable practitioners to develop skills pertaining to the analysis and the design of complex built environments in which a wide range of public- and private-sector parties may be involved, whether in existing urban areas or in newly developed areas. Since the 1950s, Urban Design has been a central part of the Architecture and Urban Planning curricula, which have formally been offered at McGill since 1896 and 1947 (respectively). The opportunity to study Urban Design within the frameworks of McGill’s well-established graduate program in the School of Architecture will be particularly attractive to students who wish to pursue careers in public agencies and private consulting firms where a credential in Urban Design is important.

Philosophy and curriculum

From the making of ‘good’ streets and other types of public places to the design of housing, from crafting new urban space to reshaping the fabric of postwar suburban landscapes, Urban Design and Housing at McGill centres on the roles that environmental design can play in the changing form of metropolitan regions.

At McGill, we base our curriculum on the assertion that Urban Design and Housing can best be learned through studio and workshop courses. These are ‘hands-on’ forms of teaching that many Planning and Design schools across North America abandoned in the 1960s and 1970s. This was not the case at McGill, nor at the Université de Montréal.

Our Urban Design and Housing concentration is centred on a strong commitment to reflexive practice. Students will hone their skills in several key areas:

  • conducting research that helps inform and improve the quality of the built environment
  • involving those who will be affected by Urban Design and Housing interventions
  • fostering in themselves and others a long-range perspective on the consequences of actions that shape the urban environment

Faculty advisors from the School of Architecture assist students to tailor the course offerings and research opportunities to develop individualised areas of study.