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Urban Design and Physical Planning

Specialization for Master of Urban Planning

View of Buffalo's City Hall

Urban Design bridges planning, architecture and landscape. Urban designers work on the scale from the design of a street corner to a bird’s-eye view of the urban structure of a metropolitan region. 

They work on a diverse range of projects from community development, housing, redevelopment of downtown and waterfront, streetscapes, infrastructure programs, sustainable planning/design. Some of them work on planning/design of new campuses, towns or new city centers. Urban designers contribute to making cities and neighborhoods more livable, more pedestrian friendly and more environmentally and aesthetically agreeable. Most of urban design work requires knowledge in economic development and historic preservation. Bridging architecture and planning programs, students in the urban design specialization study the design of built environment focusing on each discipline as a form of critical inquiry into the other. Studios, seminars, and community-based learning formats cover theories, methods, and case studies in urban design, physical and spatial planning, sustainable design, landscape design, and tools for financing urban design proposals.


(In addition to a Planning/Urban Design Studio, 4 courses are required to complete the specialization)

Methods Course (Intro to Urban Design required)

  • URP 565  Urban Planning & Design I: Understanding Good Urban Form (Fall)

Theory Course (Case Studies in Urban Design required)

  • URP 566  Urban Planning and Design II: Theories of Urban Settlements (Spring)

Elective Courses (minimum of two required)

  • URP 525   Financing Urban Development (Fall)
  • URP 526/ARC 526  Site Planning and Design (Spring)
  • URP 528   Historic Preservation (Spring)
  • URP 558   Design Inclusive Environments (Fall)
  • URP 562   Transportation, Land Use, and Urban Form (Spring)
  • URP 571   3-D Visual and Urban Simulation (Spring)
  • ARC 588:  Design Theory: The City in Film (Fall)  -- To be confirmed

A Word about the Required Planning Studio

Not all of the planning studio courses offered by the faculty contain urban design content. MUP students who are completing a specialization in Urban Design must take an interdisciplinary studio which does have such content. Appropriate studio sections will be identified by the department staff at time of registration.

  • URP 581   Planning Studio (with urban design content) or

Note: MARC/MUP dual-degree candidates must take their dual-studio under a different number designation:

  • URP 580  Planning Studio, co-enrolled in ARC 609

Culminating Exercise

As part of the requirement for graduation with an MUP, students seeking a specialization must prepare a professional project or at thesis related to that specialization. In rare cases, students may believe that they are unable to fit their specialization topic into the professional project. If so, they must still complete the professional project, but must consult with their Specialization Director about an additional class (most likely independent study) through which to demonstrate synthetic knowledge of the specialization. This may be done only with the Specialization Director’s approval.

Specialization Director:

Hiroaki Hata

Revised August 2015