Courses Overview


ARC 386M Light and Sustainable Design

This seminar course aims to explore the full spectrum of light as it relates to architecture and design in general, from physical properties such as its effect on the thermal performance of buildings (including their energy and demand) as well as the resultant impact on comfort, and ultimately the way we perceive space, color, and form. The seminar provides insight into the integrated balance of natural daylighting and artificial lighting in habitable spaces. This balance will be examined from the larger scale of full building facades and urban environments to the micro-scale of nanotechnology in smart materials, which allow for alterations in embedded light and color properties. 


Introduction to Urban Ecology examines ecology in cities (e.g., how do urban bird populations differ from rural ones?), the ecology of cities (e.g., what are the energy, material and information flows of a city?), and ecology for cities (e.g., how do we use urban ecological knowledge to make cities healthier, safer and more equitable and vibrant places to live?). The purpose of this course is to: 1) provide an introduction to urban ecology (UE) and its intersection with the planning and design disciplines; 2) critically examine how planners and others can support, facilitate, harness, and mitigate UE systems in a way that incorporates equity, public health, community development, environmental and economic development goals.

ARC 386M Sustainability: Why This Way?

This seminar is an exploration of the genealogy and repercussions of the ideas, technologies, and norms that have contributed to the current understanding of sustainability and the practice of sustainable design in architecture. The seminar is divided into two blocks. The first part provides an account of ecological ideas, socioeconomic agendas, regulatory programs, and design attitudes as they emerged, influenced each other, and affected environmental action and the character of the American house. The second part investigates the regulations used to standardize sustainable building practices and financial incentives used to promote specific types of “green” technologies.

ARC 386M Sustainable Architectural Design

This course explores the interaction of urban planning, site conditions, orientation, structural form and logic, spatial quality, and climatic performance. Special attention is placed on the role of the city and how the built environment affects and is impacted by transportation planning, public space, and carbon emissions. Case studies and historical references will provide the backbone of the course, followed by exercises in exploring the combination of practical strategies for the design of buildings and sites with larger-scale implications for the climate as a focus. The course will cover topics such as efficient use of materials and land, renewable energy, radiant heating and cooling, natural ventilation, and community building through design. This will benefit from the combined knowledge provided by architects, planners, landscape architects, structural, environmental and energy engineers through interdisciplinary collaboration.


The intent of this course is to learn to integrate sustainable building and planning principles into the form-making process of architectural design. This course is intended to be one of a series of design enrichment seminars that explore in depth the principles of qualitative and quantitative design. The course content will: survey the principles of environmentally sensitive design and planning, review case studies of "green building" applications, and explore various concepts for integrating sustainable planning and building principles into the form-making process of architectural design. The process includes an analysis of bioclimatic comfort and building metabolism; design with climate; integration of passive heating and cooling systems; water conservation planning; waste systems; and the basis for specifying sustainable building materials.

ARC 386M Solar Geometry and Energy Flow in Buildings

Solar Geometry and Energy Flow in Buildings examines the relationship between buildings and the energy that flows around and through them.  Developing a strong understanding of the principles that govern this interaction is important for anyone involved with the built environment. The course provides a good foundation for students to understand and apply principles of building performance, and for those who plan to move on to the study of whole-building energy simulation.


This course is intended to assist graduate students in writing a professional report, thesis or dissertation proposal.  A proposal is the first step in a process that results in original research.  The proposal should link theory, design, method, evidence, and argument.   As emerging scholars and future practitioners, understanding how to design a research strategy that is rigorous, replicable, and meaningful is fundamental to your future.  For practitioners, the move to an evidence-based assessment of planning and design alternatives and the use of the best available science requires that you be able to evaluate the evidence, analyses, and arguments.  For scholars, being able to formulate researchable questions and hypotheses, select methodological strategies that allow analyses of the questions, and construct effective analytic narratives is essential to intellectual rigor and credible research.  Writing your proposal is your first academic opportunity to become familiar with the research design process, obtain feedback and refine your ideas.