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Thread: urban design advice!

  1. #1
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    urban design advice!

    Hey everyone,

    I was hoping I could ask for advice - I am considering taking an urban design degree (masters) next year. Do you think there is any disadvantage to having a degree in urban design specifically, as opposed to an architecture degree with an urban design speciality? As well, the program I am looking at is not certified - is this something I should be concerned about?

    I guess I'm a little unsure as to what an urban designer does as opposed to a city planner (both in a firm and government roles). What would the daily typical activities be? How much time is spent in the office (reading? writing? researching?) vs. the field (surveying, etc?) As you can see, I have lots of questions!

    Absolutley ANY advice/info you can provide about urban design would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    With a professional degree in Architecture or Landscape Architecture, you can get certified and stamp drawings. With a planning urban design degree, you can't get certified and stamp drawings. Employers ask for candidates who can stamp drawings in the design field. If you're more into regulatory work with a public organization, the stamp isn't as important.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    My first question would be "what do you want to do?" Also, what's your background?

    As to the Urban Design degree vs. Arch degree w/ urban specialization, I agree with CosmicMojo - the arch. degree could potentially get you to a point where you could be a registered architect, which is a huge plus.

    At the end of the day though, the degree is just a jumping-off point for the rest of your career. It'll get you that first job, but after that what you can do is more important than what your white-collar-union-card (degree) says. I think either the arch or urban design degree could point you at either the public or private sector equally well.

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    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    +1 cosmicmojo.

    get an M.Arch or MLA. which is better? really depends on a school's curriculum and personal preferences. but yeah. don't get an urban design master's.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Definitely you should think about what kind of work you feel you might want to do. Being and "urban designer" in the most romantic sense (designing public places, for example) is a job very few get to do exclusively for a living. More likely, elements of urban design will come to bear on a job that deals with less design-centered work like developing master/sector/corridor plans or the like. The level of design detail one gets to do in these projects tends to be rather general and suggestive, like a proposal for open space or streetscapes. And I think it is true that if you are not a certified architect or landscape architect and you work at a private firm, you are likely to be rendering someone else's drawings more than your own (which isn't to say that you wouldn't be a player in outlining the program).

    It may very well be, though, that this degree will give you the breadth of knowledge to do a variety of exciting things. I might suggest talking to the faculty there to get an idea of what other graduates have gone on to do. That will give you an idea of what is possible down the road.

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    so MArch probably better than MUD?

    Hey everybody-

    Thanks a lot for all your thoughtful resposes. I guess the bottom line here is that anything you can do with an M. Urban Design you can also do with an MArch, but not the other way around, right? I suppose it doesn't really make sense to just do a long (3 years plus) masters degree in Urban Design when it isn't certified and will limit my choices. Is this sounding right to everyone?

    My background....well I have BA honours in Psychology, and one year of undergrad architecture studies (left because I wasn't sure if it was what I wanted...) and clearly several years later I'm still not sure!

  7. #7
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bnb
    anything you can do with an M. Urban Design you can also do with an MArch, but not the other way around, right?
    That's been my observation. I may not be popular with the planners for saying so, but that's what I've seen in the work world.

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