History and Philosophy of Design is a platform for inquiry into the disciplines of architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture, and their aligned aesthetic, technological and spatial practices.

The program provides students the opportunity for historical and philosophical explorations into the social, cultural, technical and political contexts of design, and is directed towards individuals for whom advanced study can serve as preparation for future work in three general areas:

  1. The subsequent pursuit of a PhD degree in the histories of design, architecture, urbanism or landscape architecture, or in the many adjacent fields that include the study of the built environment.
  2. The cultivation of theoretical and historical frameworks for future practice and design pedagogy.
  3. The development of an intellectual foundation for the pursuit of careers in journalism, film and digital media, or design curation related to the built environment.

The program is structured around a curriculum consisting of seminars and lectures taught by the history/theory faculty of the GSD. Course topics taught by this faculty include history of art and architecture, landscape and environmental history, urban design and planning history, the history of science and technology in design, experimental design practices, and many others. The curriculum culminates with an individual research paper or a final project developed within the students’ course work. During their residence, students in this MDesS program have access to an unparalleled array of resources, at the GSD and throughout Harvard University. The study of architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture has a natural affinity with courses offered in departments such as History of Science, Visual and Environmental Studies, History, Anthropology, Literature and others. In addition the Humanities Center at Harvard, the Laboratory at Harvard, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society are venues for conversations among scholars at Harvard and internationally, hosting speakers, seminars, workshops and conferences that are open to all Harvard students. Together with the numerous activities at the GSD, these events provide a diverse and stimulating intellectual environment in which to pursue the degree in the History and Philosophy of Design.

Area Coordinators
Sonja Duempelmann, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
John May, Design Critic in Architecture

Faculty
Eve Blau, Adjunct Professor in Architectural History
Sonja Duempelmann, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Ed EigenAssociate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory
John May, Design Critic in Architecture
Erika Naginski, Associate Professor of Architectural History
Antoine Picon, Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology
Christine Smith, Robert C. and Marian K. Weinberg Professor of Architectural History

Projects