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Thread: MUD/MURP vs 3-yr MLA

  1. #1
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    MUD/MURP vs 3-yr MLA

    I am currently a senior in undergrad. I am a dual Finance and Urban and Regional Planning major. Originally, I was planning on going into development/finance for a firm that focuses on urban redevelopment. However, since taking design studios I have realized that design is my true passion.

    I have a small portfolio, but am planning on going to grad school (or pursue an internship this summer in hopes of getting a job at a planning firm) to get my dream job as an urban designer.

    I am looking at two programs at U of Michigan

    one is the dual Masters of Urban Design/Masters of Urban Planning

    the other is a 3-yr Masters of Landscape Architecture

    what would you guys recommend?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Taubman has a good MLA program. However, it's emphasis is more on ecology not land use development or physical site design. MUDs are a mixed bag (see previous posts). I think they are great if you want a more specialized degree AFTER a design degree (arch or landscape arch).

    However, two other things to consider;
    1. Landscape architecture and urban design are dead. Barely anyone is building anything. Do you really want to sink more money for 2-3 more years of school? If you are even lucky to do enough work in design to support yourself, you are probably going to have to be licensed, LEED AP, and have a few years under your belt, even for entry level. Check out land8lounge.com and areforum.
    2. Why do you want to stay in Michigan? The pricetag for in-state at UMich is very high, and I doubt it's going to come down anytime soon. The economy in Michigan is NOT coming back for a very long time (same with many areas in the Rust Belt) so who knows if there is going to be work for you unless you plan on relocating immediately after graduation.

    I don't want to discourage you, but you want to enter a very competitive field with little opportunities at the moment while attending a state school that costs far more than the salary you could expect after school.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
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    I have extensively read the posts on this forum about MUDs, and a lot of your very useful advice. With a degree in finance/urban planning any job I would be looking for would be in an industry that is crippled so I'm thinking if I can't get a job grad school would be the way to go. I am thinking maybe a MURP with a concentration is something design/physical planning related might give me the versatility to find a job.

    I am applying for an internship at Sasaki this summer which would really help me get a job out of undergrad so if I get that I'll just wait on grad school

    Heres an example of one of my portfolio pieces, a simple site plan with photoshop/sketch up

    https://www.msu.edu/~bestpaul/Final_Master_Plan.jpg
    https://www.msu.edu/~bestpaul/3d_aerial.jpg

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Not bad. The plan graphic has nice clear lines (I am writing this from my iPhone at a greasy truck stop in the middle of Missouri). I have worked as an independent Sketchup illustrator for 5 years apart from my full time work as a planner. The Sketchup sample leaves alot to be desired. I think you are going to face stiff competition for a coveted slot a from a prestigious firm like Sasaki, especially in a recession.

    Having worked with LAs for several years and after reviewing your work, I still think your best option is an MLA. An MUD is not going to teach that much more than what you are showing me (again, that's why an MUD is a good OPTIONAL degree to pursue AFTER a design degree (MLA or MArch) if you want to go down a specialized path. Even though you have a good basis for design, the economy is far too awful to be looking for a full time design job right now, unless you have a very polished overall portfolio and know how to interview well.

    You show tremendous promise. I think you may want to consider an actual technical degree such as an MLA or an MArch, not an MUD. It's really more to just have the credentials and additional studio work to build off of your good work. Regardless, design is dead right now, so I think it's still going to be a tall order for you and everyone else coming out of school.

    hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Thanks for all the advice btw, you've been the most helpful career guide I've encountered thus far.

    One quick note on Sketchup (that was my first attempt at Sketchup, I produced that after only working with the program for like an hour so I know that if I invested the time I could produce some significantly better models)

    I have one more question:

    Given the economy, tough competition from experienced design professionals, my experience doing planning-oriented research/reports, and writing abilities I am wondering what you think about doing an MUP (with a design/physical planning/master planning emphasis). I would be looking for a job doing master planing with a firm rather than actual technical landscape design work, I may even try to get a job as a planning associate out of undergrad

    I think I would be happy in a planning firm doing master planning because I would still get to do some design work but I am wondering if you think this would be a more realistic in terms of job prospects. Basically, I don't want to invest time/money in a MLA and end up designing backyards for rich people or something unrewarding because of a tough market

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    There are many different types of LA to go into. "High end residential" is landscaping for private residences, and this is what the majority of the general public thinks LA's do. Masterplanning is usually affiliated with LA and to a lesser degree architects and engineers. You still need coursework in site grading, topography, utilities, etc. Planners usually don't do masterplanning beyond the conceptual level unless you have worked with LAs and architects (like me). I can do 100% construction documents (final blueprints) since I know AutoCAD, taught myself alot of design, plus worked side by side with designers. My BUP is actually a generalized non-design degree so I do both design and non-design work.

    Bottom line, go for an MLA if you want to learn about masterplanning. Keep in mind NO ONE is doing this work right now.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
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    From your experience what kinds of work do BUP/MUPs do at planning firms? assuming their firms are getting clients

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    whatever the client pays them to do. Search previous posts. I don't think there is much difference between what a BUP and an MUP will do. In some firms credentials are not as important as the skills and experience the worker brings to the table.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  9. #9
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    Which MLA schools focus on master planning or urban design or would be the best given that field? I know people say that UMich is more ecology based

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    KState, Iowa State, Ball State, possibly CU-Denver. Wisconsin-Madison students have good portfolios. UGA has one of the best generalized MLA programs, although I think they are somewhat lacking in CDs.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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