Over the past decade, longstanding disciplinary divides between the urban and the ecological have given way to more fluid, polyvalent and potentially more productive relations.

The challenges of the built environment have rarely, at any time, corresponded to traditional disciplinary or professional boundaries. Today, contemporary practices of urbanism are shaped by thinking from subjects as diverse as landscape architecture, geography and economics, while increasingly being informed by sensibilities and stores of knowledge broadly associated with the study of the natural world. In this milieu, the MDes Program invites candidates to examine contemporary practices of design and modes of production as they inform and manifest urbanism. As model and metaphor on the one hand, and as applied science on the other, urban and architectural practices and habits of thought are increasingly engaged with ecological thinking. In this space of intellectual inquiry and advancement of the design arts, the MDes Program aspires to be a leading venue for post-professional studies of contemporary urban practice. MDes candidates in the Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology concentration pursue advanced studies in topics related to contemporary urbanism, landscape, geography, or territory within the broader contexts of the global, social and natural environment. Candidates are invited to construct their own program of study from among the course offerings at the GSD, across the Harvard University campus and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Candidates may propose research topics related to the description of contemporary urban forms; the empirical observation of urban or environmental subjects; the representation of ecological or urban sites and systems; cartographic or projective representations of urban, regional, or global orders; ecological orders as determinants of urban, regional, or territorial spatial organization; the histories and theories of landscape as elements of urban or regional order; infrastructure, logistics and material economies associated with urban or regional form; emergent economic orders and their impact on urban form; energy production and consumption in relation to urbanism; agricultural production and consumption in relation to urbanism; water and waste networks in relation to urbanism; large-scale and ultra-rapid development and emergent forms of modernization and their ecological and economic impacts and possibilities; as well as advanced studies in landscape urbanism, ecological urbanism and weak urbanism.

Area Heads

Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture
Alex Wall, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture

Affiliated Faculty

Silvia Benedito, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Anita Berrizbeitia, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture
Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory
Ed Eigen, Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design
Chris Reed, Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

Research Affiliations

Urban Theory Lab
Harvard University Center for the Environment
Harvard University Center for Geographic Analysis
Office For Urbanization

Read about the Urbanism, Landscape, Ecology concentration in Harvard Magazine.