The three-semester Master of Science in Design with a concentration in Advanced Architectural Design [MSD-AAD] course of study is for architecture students with five-year professional bachelor’s degrees from the US and equivalent degree from around the world. This course of study does not lead to a professional degree in architecture. The MSD-AAD program is a three-semester program and builds on its success as a program focused on innovation in architecture design. Starting in the 2020-2021 Academic year the three-semester program is being offered over the course of one calendar year to increase the intensity of study and allow for students to be away from the workplace for a shorter duration.

The purpose of the MSD Advanced Architectural Design program is four-fold. First, to prepare students for high level design research in the profession or academy in contemporary issues that affect the architecture discipline. Second, to develop skills in emerging design and cross-disciplinary tools, third, to critically engage the theoretical dimensions of the contemporary architectural discourse around these tools; and fourth, to integrate advanced digital modeling techniques into a design methodology that has direct bearing on the development of material  production, fabrication and construction processes and their aesthetics.




ARCH 707: MSD- AAD Fabrication Studio

The final semester design studio for the AAD program. The goal of the studio is to advance design research through large scale fabrication using the Robotics Labratory.

ARCH 715: Contemporary Aesthetics Theory

This course offers a framework for a provocative history of ideas about beauty as they relate to contemporary thinking and their production of form in architecture. In a world increasingly defined by visuality, the concepts of beauty and visual sensation are not mere intellectual exercises but standards that define the very nature of design practice across disciplines, and that are essential to the worlds of objects, automobiles, furniture and architecture in the twenty-first century. Aesthetic theory is about beauty and about form and how it affects us every day. As architecture practice changes, the tools that are used to create form change due to new technologies, new materials and new tools for fabrication and aesthetics gives us an important way in to understanding the relationship between the object created and the user. This occurs in contemporary cultural landscapes in which we exist, and aesthetics is the organizing element.

ARCH 747: Robotic Fabrication

Automation and robotics have helped manufacturing increase productivity by 1,500% since 1945 (McKinsey 2017). In contrast, however, construction productivity has remained relatively stagnant during the same time. The construction industry is facing pressure to change. For the robotics industry, construction presents potential use cases and unique applications that can utilize a variety of evolving technologies from drones, ground robotics, teleoperation, machine vision, additive manufacturing, and assistive robotics. These technologies take advantage of the digital revolution and utilize ideas in automobile and aerospace engineering. Our interest in these technologies is that they open new opportunities for design.


ARCH 705: MSD- AAD Design Research Studio

The second semsester design research studio focusses on large scale detail leading to a building design

ARCH 733: New Materials and Methods

The primary goal of this course is to help students formulate a robust research proposal for their culminating design studio in digital large-scale fabrication and robotics manufacturing using new materials such as carbon fiber and other composites, The course provides a forum for critical discussion of contemporary design practices that is exploratory and speculative in nature. In addition to collaborative thinking and debate students will develop their own research interests to formulate contemporary positions in the making of architecture through the research of materials and their fabrication methods.

ARCH 720: Visual Literacy

The discipline of architecture has been deeply influenced by the digital shift in modes of design and visualization which yielded a wide array of directions within the architectural discourse, especially with questions and problems regarding representation. One clear outcome of this transformational period is the diversity of new representational strategies to seek alternative modes of visualization. It is clear that no one representational medium can be defined as the locus of architectural thought and architecture, as a cultural practice, can no longer be defined through the output of a single medium. The reality of our discipline is that we work through collective mediums and conventions of drawings, models, images, simulations, texts, prototypes and buildings to visualize architectural concepts. These mediums all require degrees of expertise in techniques that are necessary for their execution; They all involve conceptual depth that define their disciplinary positions; They all require translations across each other to enable subjective work-flows; They all require aesthetic attitudes to influence the development of visual culture in architecture.

ARCH XXX: Elective II

Students will select a 700 elective from the Architecture department's Spring elective offerings.

ARCH 703: MSD- AAD Design Studio

A coordinated studio for incoming MSD-AAD students. This rigorous studio exposes incoming students to new techniques and design methodologies as well as crucial disciplinary questions.

ARCH 710: Contemporary Theory 1993-Present

An overview of the approaches and attitudes adopted by architects, theorists and inter-disciplinary writers from 1993-today that have helped shape the current discourse of architecture. This course introduces and contextualize key projects, and polemics over the last 25 years. Central themes in this course include the impact of digital technologies and methods of design, production and materiality. These are explored through texts, movements, projects and buildings that help form an overview that has shaped the contemporary condition that we live in.

ARCH 741: Design Innovation

The mastery of techniques, whether in design, production or both, does not necessarily yield great architecture. As we all know, the most advanced techniques can still yield average designs. Architects are becoming increasingly adept at producing complexity and integrating digital design and fabrication techniques into their design process - yet there are few projects that emanate an aesthetic sensibility. This seminar explores some of the instances in which designers can move beyond technique, by commanding them to such a degree to achieve nuances within the formal development of projects.

ARCH XXX: Elective I

Students will select a 700 elective from the Architecture department's fall elective offerings.


The program is organized around design research, visual culture and a rigorous sequence in the history and theory of contemporary architecture as well as design technology seminars currently offered in the Master of Architecture Curriculum. The opportunity for debate, criticism, and experimentation between urban issues and architectural solutions with political pressures, technology and an application of theory provide a robust approach for studying advanced architecture design.

ARCH 703 UPS HUB [2019]

ARCH 703 FUTURE AIRPORTS [2017-2018]








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Meyerson Hall
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Program Director: Ali Rahim

Professor of Architecture

Ali Rahim is (Full) Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where he directs the Advanced Architectural Design Program. He is also Director of CAP in SoHo, New York City. Mr. Rahim has served as the Studio Zaha Hadid Visiting Professor at the University of Applied Arts (die Angewandte) in Vienna, as the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professor at Yale University, and as a Visiting Architecture Professor at Harvard University.

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