Master of Urban Design
In our 30-credit, STEM-designated, studio-based program, participants develop the technical skills, intellectual rigor, and professional expertise to tackle the challenges of urbanization. Students are trained to look critically at the built environment and encouraged to use their design expertise to make a difference in the world.
Our one-year, design-intensive program is directed at students with previous degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, or other related disciplines. NJIT’s Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree is an approved field of study (CIP Code 303301) included in the United States government’s official STEM fields list, which allows our international MUD graduates to apply for the optional practical training (OPT) extension program.
Through our sequential urban design studio sequence, faculty guide students through an iterative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative design process. With all of our studio projects and proposals, we actively seek to transform urban conditions by making cities more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful. Projects range in scale from the design of discrete physical interventions, to the restructuring of urban districts, to the reimagining of mega-regions. During the first semester, program participants engage in design projects aimed at improving local urban conditions in the New York - New Jersey metropolitan region, whereas the second semester is dedicated to inventing new urban design paradigms in international settings.
The MUD program (previously known as MIP) focuses on innovative urban design and planning practice that is informed by in-depth local analysis and global understanding of large-scale forces at work in city-making and urbanization. Using new and emergent techniques, students learn to analyze and visualize both the physical and non-physical forces shaping urban conditions, to design in a variety of urban contexts and scales, and to critically evaluate the social, economic, and ecological impact of their own urban design proposals and interventions.
Students are introduced to methodologies such as framework development, master planning, visioning, scenario planning, constituency analysis, community engagement and zoning and land use, and develop proficiency through application in design-based exercises in both local and global contexts.
Studios include skill-based learning modules, including intensives in GIS, which are intended to give students a wide variety of analytic and technical tools to develop and evaluate their design projects.
Over the past ten years, our studios have focused on the most pressing urban challenges of our time.
Major research themes in the past five years have centered on planning, designing and rebuilding in the face of climate change, an increase in extreme weather events, and sea-level rise. MIP students have directly participated in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design initiative.
Studios have also addressed the challenges of changing demographics, such as the aging of the world’s population, the ethnic diversification of suburbs, and socio-spatial exclusion in cities.
The goal of the studios is to introduce students to the tools of urban design and planning. Studio members work at a variety of scales and use a variety of techniques, ranging from small-scale community-based approaches that improve local conditions to large-scale strategic visions. By the completion of the program, participants have experience in urban analysis and visualization, stakeholder/community engagement, the development of small-scale urban interventions, master and legacy planning, and strategic visioning. The intent is to provide new skills and perspectives to practitioners that enhance their ability to design comprehensively and systemically at the urban scale, and to use these abilities to improve design outcomes at the scale of buildings.
Students must complete 30 course credits through full- or part-time study. The following courses in a typical full-time study plan over two semesters is shown below.
Urban Design Studio
History and Theory of Urban Planning and Design
Geographic Information Systems
Urban Design elective
Term credits 15
Urban Design Studio
Topics of Sustainable Urbanism
Public and Private Development
Urban Design elective
Term credits 15
Total credits 30
The MIP (now renamed as MUD) Program’s work has been internationally recognized.
The Fall 2019 MIP studio was awarded the first honorable mention at the 2019 Global Schindler Awards in Mumbai, India.
MIP Studio Earns Honorable Mention in 2019 Schindler Global Award: https://news.njit.edu/mip-studio-earns-honorable-mention-2019-schinder-global-award
The proposal developed out of the Fall 2014 studio, “SEZ to EZX: Shenzhen Xroads” was selected as one of the Global Schindler Award Competition’s 12 finalists and was ultimately awarded first honorable mention (4th place) out of a field of over 250 international submissions. The student authors of the project traveled to China to receive their award and were recognized for their exemplary contribution.
NJIT Hillier College Students Win First Honorable Mention at Global Schindler Awards: https://archinect.com/schools/release/2633721/njit-coad-students-win-first-honorable-mention-at-global-schindler-awards/127224996
MIP Student project “SEZ to EZX: Shenzhen Xroads” was awarded first prize in the 2015 Student Showcase at the American Planning Association Northeast Conference.
The MIP program was the academic research partner (along with TU Delft) of one of the ten winning teams of the prestigious Rebuild by Design Competition. MIP students worked along-side the professionals leading the work and participated in workshops and public events. The students exhibited their work and presented their projects at the competition’s inaugural event.
MUD Faculty are Authorities in the Field
Working in Urban Design and Infrastructure Planning:
Anthony Cosentino Associate Architect, Architecture / Engineering Division, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, MIP 2014
“As an architecture student I always had an interest in the bigger picture of design. The MIP program gave me the opportunity to study the urban issues that are more important than ever. Both the studios and elective classes provided unique and informative experiences that I value and use almost every day in my career.
The real world scenarios that the MIP program provides gave me a solid foundation for my career at the Port Authority of NY & NJ, working on one of the region’s most important transportation projects; the master planning effort for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. I am also part of a team that is designing new shared use paths (pedestrian and bicycle) for the George Washington Bridge.”
Joseph Cosenza Vice President of Construction, Ivy Realty, MIP 2011
“I entered the MIP program after a career in Real Estate Development and Construction.
As a seasoned professional, I found that the program work helped me to broaden my view of the factors which affect a real estate investment. The studios were an ideal laboratory in which to apply these factors to a real-life design problem at an urban scale.
In my professional work, the ability to analyze a particular building in an urban planning context has proven extremely valuable. Being able to recognize, research, and apply data ranging from demographic, economic, historic, logistic, and other contextual data is something that I learned in the program, and I use daily in my work.”
Steven Folkes Community Planner and Liaison, AvalonBay Communities, MIP 2011
“The ability to think critically and create a strong argument are invaluable skills I gained in the program and have been key to my professional success.
The faculty were excellent motivators. They, along with invited industry-related experts who participated in our courses, challenged our work for the better through constructive critiques throughout the year.
I can undoubtedly say, the skills I acquired from the MIP program have allowed me to adapt quickly and excel professionally.”
Milena Popow Architect I, HNTB Corporation, NYC Office, MIP
“I am currently working as an architect for a national infrastructure engineering firm in New York City. Our focus is public transportation architecture. The projects that I have worked on in the past three years have been predominantly transit stations (high speed, commuter, subway, and light rail). I use the techniques, knowledge, and experience gained during my studies on a daily basis because these large infrastructure projects require planning beyond the projects’ boundaries. When designing ideal station configurations I take into consideration the community and environmental impacts, intermodal connections, sustainability, resiliency, and user experience. In other words I regularly implement a holistic approach towards planning and design - one of my biggest takeaways from the MIP program.”
Newark, Which Way Forward? Urban Frameworks and Future Scenarios for Newark’s Downtown, Fall 2019
Newark Neighborhood Networks: Urban Framework Plan and Priority Projects for Newark’s Neighborhoods, Spring 2019
Moving Mumbai: Urban Frameworks for Mumbai’s Eastern Waterfront, MIP 601/602, Fall 2018
The Lycabettus Studio: Open Space Frameworks and Priority Projects for Athen's Greatest Hill, MIP 601/602, Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Master of Infrastructure Planning (MIP) studio worked in collaboration with the City of Athens, 100 Resilient Cities, and Rebuild by Design to develop open space frameworks and priority pilot projects for Athen’s Lycabettus Hill that reinforce the City’s broader resiliency agenda. A key objective of the studio was to identify and synthesize the interests of key stakeholders into actionable design proposals that would help inform the Lycabettus master plan and further democratize the planning process.
Refugee Resettlement in New Jersey, MIP 601/602, Fall 2017
Partnering with International Rescue Committee, Church World Service, and Interfaith-RISE, the Fall 2017 MIP studio developed strategies for refugee resettlement and community development in New Jersey. Following a historical analysis of refugee resettlement in the United States, and in-depth interviews with various stakeholders, the studio focused on three different sites for resettlement in New Jersey: Highland Park, Jersey City, and Newark.
Olympicopolis: A New Cultural and Education Quarter for London’s Olympic Park
This studio focused on creating urban design plans for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The plans included, but were not limited to, cultural and educational institutions, housing, offices, transportation, and open space. A key objective of the studio was to maximize the value of the plan for the adjacent, economically-deprived communities.
Network City Campus: A District Plan for University Heights
This studio focused on Newark’s University Heights district. Students developed design strategies that engaged a range of scales and times, from small-scale, short-term improvements that enhance the everyday use of the campus, to large-scale, long-term strategies that address structural deficiencies and envision new futures. Like the Fall 2014 and 2013 studios, the Fall 2015 studio was run as a competition studio. The competition was sponsored by NJIT’s office of Real Estate Development and Capital Operations, which generously allocated $50,000 to implement one winning project to improve the NJIT campus. A winning project was selected for implementation by a jury of experts.
Watershed Moment: A Plan for Nassau County’s Mill River Watershed
Continuing to run parallel with the Rebuild by Design process, the Spring 2015 studio’s site and focus was the Mill River watershed, which stretches from the open bay to the uplands in New York’s suburban Nassau County. Because of its vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surge, its ecological degradation, and its highly segregated social landscape, this watershed represents an ideal territory to investigate issues of sustainable urban development. The studio was unique in that students worked not in the abstract but as part of an ongoing process of implementing a groundbreaking project.
Delta Cities: Building Resiliency in Rapidly Urbanizing Territories
Shenzhen, China, located in the Pearl River Delta, presents some of the most pressing challenges faced by delta cities and their regions. Strategically sited at the hinge between Hong Kong and mainland China, Shenzhen has become a global center of manufacturing and exportation. China’s economic policies and infrastructure investments have transformed Shenzhen from a sleepy fishing village of 30,000 to a city of approximately 15 million in just over 30 years. The breathtaking speed of Shenzhen’s development has come with all of the negative consequences of rapid urbanization. Shenzhen’s livability, particularly for the migrant workers who have fueled the new economy, is compromised. Housing shortages, traffic, major air and water pollution, flash floods, social segregation, and a host of other problems threaten the quality of life in the city. These extraordinary urban conditions served as the setting for the Fall 2014 MIP Studio.
2014 marked the inauguration of the Global Schindler Award (GSA), which expanded the Schindler Award Competition from a European to an international context. For the first time, American universities were eligible to participate, and NJIT’s Master of Infrastructure Planning program was invited to compete. Setting its own parameters and agenda, the Fall 2014 MIP Studio responded to the GSA Competition, while developing a competition submission within the context of the MIP program’s broader curriculum and pedagogy. The studio ultimately was selected as one of the competition’s 12 finalists and awarded first honorable mentions (4th place) out of a field of over 250 international submissions.
Rebuild by Design: Living with the Bay
The subject of this studio was the rebuilding of New York’s Long Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The communities along southern Nassau County’s back bay were among the hardest hit in the Sandy-affected region. The devastation was widespread, with thousands of homes damaged or destroyed, critical infrastructure inundated and disabled, and dunes and marshes washed away. At the time the studio was conducted, many cities and towns were still in the process of rebuilding.
This studio directly participated in the ongoing rebuilding efforts as part of the federally-funded Rebuild by Design initiative. Working closely with community representatives and a consortium of professional experts, studio members conducted a three-phase investigation that included (1) innovative visualizations of local conditions (2) visionary regional strategies and (3) inventive architectural and planning proposals that address the challenges of sea-level rise and climate change. The studio’s goal was to develop design proposals that perform at multiple scales, both meeting local needs and contributing to a larger vision of regional resiliency.
Rebuild by Design: New Jersey
The subject of this studio was the rebuilding of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Working in seven different coastal areas, we developed bold visionary regional strategies, innovative mapping and modeling techniques, and inventive architectural proposals that address the challenges of sea-level rise and climate change.
Better Boroughs: Resilient Regions
This studio responded directly to the challenges faced by our region after super-storm Hurricane Sandy. Working “on the ground” with representatives of the Regional Catastrophic Planning Team (NY-NJ-CT-PA), the Department of Homeland Security, Architecture for Humanity, FEMA, and local community members, the studio developed designs that purposefully negotiate between the urgent need for visionary, large-scale planning and demands to restore what was there. As part of this course, a group of experts were brought to the university to lecture about their work.