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Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Design and Health

The concentration promotes critical assessments of existing design practices, while seeking to catalyze new opportunities for design and architecture to positively influence health.

Important Dates & Information:

Application Deadline: January 15 
Intent to Enroll Deadline: April 15


Design and Health Overview

The built environment has a powerful impact on our bodies, fitness, and well-being. The Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Design and Health is an intensive 10-month post-professional degree that examines a range of scales including interiors, buildings, cities, and territories 
that promote a critical assessment of existing design practices. Students in the MS_DH concentration pursue new opportunities for design and architecture to positively influence health infrastructure by addressing inequalities, while drawing from numerous allied fields through design.

Design Health is positioned as a crucial, global concern in light of rapid technological change, innovation in science, and emerging, critical theories in the humanities. In the MS_DH concentration, design is understood as a relational structure that navigates the constantly changing contours between the sciences and humanities. As forms of cultural production, health-related design issues are distributed between medical models and social models, with the medical model acting as the dominant paradigm. Students explore the confluence of these models, while developing design thinking in order to produce new methodologies and new ways of effectively engaging the complex relationships between design and health in a global context.

Within a 21st century context, MS_DH students develop new frameworks for debate regarding: the role of design in expanding healthy lifestyles, the challenges of structural-level disparities in access to healthcare facilities and amenities, and the way that design processes are embedded in pathological social systems. The concentration combines case study and action-based methods in order to deploy multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding health as an individual and collective challenge. Projects range from assymetrical design explorations to policy innovations on issues ranging from resource allocation and zoning to transport and agricultural infrastructure. Areas of study include: the human body, disparate access to healthcare, hospitals and institutional health systems, and environmental conditions that influence health outcomes. 

As urbanization continues to affect health, the impact of urban design will be of particular interest in examining the interplay between population density, transport infrastructure, access to food and water, and overall health. 

Each MS_DH student will chart a relationship between architecture, design, social science, engineering, history, public health, public policy, and medicine. New forms of practice can emerge, as well as new forms of collaboration, from basic scientific research to technological interfaces within designed objects and buildings.

The University of Michigan is robust constellation of academic, professional, and clinical units with which to partner, including but not limited to subject areas of medicine, pediatric medicine, geriatrics, psychology, public health, public policy, obesity, sociology, art and design, kinesiology, and biomechanics.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Architecture Design and Research Degree with a concentration in Design and Health requires 36 credit hours. Specifically, a student must complete:

  • Arch 700 MS Practicum (6 credits)
  • Arch 714 MS Proseminar (3 credits)
  • Arch 726 MS Theories in Design Health (3 credits)
  • Arch 727 Health: Individual Infrastructures (3 credits)
  • Arch 728 Health: Civic Infrastructure (3 credits)
  • Arch 739 MS Capstone (6 credits)
  • Two courses (6 credits) of 500/600 level elective architecture courses
  • Two courses (6 credits) of either elective architecture courses or non-architecture cognate courses at the graduate level.

Please see the sample schedule for the typical terms of these course offerings.

Sample Schedule

View the Master of Science in Architecture: Design and Health - Sample Schedule (PDF)

Course Descriptions

Arch 700: MS Practicum: The course is designed to apply knowledge attained from the prerequisite courses towards project-based work in a 'design laboratory' setting with participants working individually and collaboratively. (6 credit hours)

Arch 714: MS Proseminar: This course engages interdisciplinary work, projects and scholarship related to the MS areas of concentration (digital technologies, material systems, conservations) - through lectures, class discussion, and guest lectures including experts in the MS concentration areas from Taubman College and the University of Michigan.  The course also includes a mini-workshop on aspects of entrepreneurship. (3 credit hours)

Arch 726: MS Theories in Design Health: This course will provide students with an understanding of the multitude of definitions of health across the globe, over time, and in various demographic realms.  Students will become familiar with the nexus of disciplines and professions which enable and constrain design health. (3 credit hours)

Arch 727: Health: Individual Infrastructures: This course covers topics related to individual (singular) health and will examine the role of design in determining the metrics of individual health within domestic, work, and recreational environments.  Participants will examine the body at rest, work, and play in specific spatial and environmental contexts determining disparities in which such activities that place and resolving the mechanics of the infrastructural differences. (3 credit hours)

Arch 728: Health: Civic Infrastructures: This course covers topics related to the affects of larger populations at rest, work, and play; and in the specific spatial and environmental contexts in which these activities take place.  The collective behavior of civic infrastructures is more closely associated with ecologies and systematic conditions of healthcare and healthcare access across multiple home, work, and recreational environments. (3 credit hours)

Arch 739: MS Capstone: This course is the culmination of the academic course of study.  Participants  are expected to apply new skills and knowledge towards advancing the discipline through their projects.  Intensive and research-based, participants will be required to document their research and project-based work in partial fulfillment of their degree.  Outside expert discussion is integrated into the MS Capstone through one or a series of colloquia presentations and public exhibitions by participants. (6 credit hours)

Faculty associated with the concentration:

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