Research at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is grounded in the belief that many of the key challenges and opportunities of our era require cooperation among the arts, humanities, and sciences and among the academy, industry, and the public sphere.

The GSD is transforming how research is conducted in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design. A collective research approach addresses areas of broad societal concern—urbanization, environment and technology—and makes contributions that are global in reach.

Research and Teaching

research bodyThe School’s collective initiatives begin with the individual endeavors of faculty and students and are strongly integrated in the pedagogical mission. Research and teaching go hand in hand.

GSD research is anchored in the methods of the humanities, the social sciences, and technology, but importantly, it mobilizes design knowledge to its full experimental, innovative and creative capacity to address key social issues.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

The GSD builds interdisciplinary bridges to the university and beyond through its research activities. Much of our research involves faculty and students from across Harvard University—the schools of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Government, Business, Law and Public Health—or from university-wide entities such as the Humanities Center, the Radcliffe Institute and the Center for the Environment.


The GSD builds on a long tradition of ground-breaking innovations. Since its foundation in 1936, the GSD has coupled its excellent professional training with in-depth research activity across a range of fields from history and theory, to technology, environment and design:

  • At the GSD’s Laboratory for Computer Graphics, the first computer mapping systems were developed and evolved into geographic information systems.
  • In the 1960s, the Joint Center for Urban Studies with MIT brought together urban planners, architects and social scientists to think through the future of cities and proposed the designs for many localities, including Ciudad Guyana in Venezuela.
  • A Synthesis of Form, Christopher Alexander’s seminal dissertation, was written at the GSD.
  • Eduard Sekler’s work with the UNESCO on preservation in Nepal has provided a template for preservation of public spaces across the world.

Continuing with this tradition, the GSD has recently launched the Design Labs to bring design to new frontiers of research and societal impact. The ambitious and rapidly expanding research agenda of the GSD serves the global community as much as it trains the next generation of architects, landscape architects and urban planners and designers.

By focusing our attention, intellect, resources and mission through the lens of research at the GSD, we aim to improve the human experience, and improve it by design.

Contact Us

Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Research Administration
48 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-8275