Overview of the College

The College’s Vision

The faculty has adopted a vision for the college that focuses on the concept of Integrative Design. This vision asserts that the creation of meaningful and beautiful environments involves:

  • focusing on real world relevance, stressing technical, environmental, economic, social, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical concerns;
  • creating and using a knowledge base for design and planning decisions;
  • fostering a multidisciplinary culture of individuals who are each expert in one of the core designing and planning disciplines; and
  • seeking and supporting a rich diversity of ideas and people to support the diverse communities served.

This vision positions the college to confront the significant challenges that will affect the design professions in the next few decades. A common concern shared by the departments is that digital technology has dramatically transformed the way we represent and model design projects and solutions. Consequently, students receive training in the most innovative computer-aided-design programs and are exposed to the technologies of 3-dimensional visualization, rapid prototyping, and computer-guided fabrication.

The Design Professions

Students thinking about studying design in an undergraduate setting as a way to prepare for a career in one of the design professions should have a strong overall high school academic background, including four years of English and math and at least three years of natural science (including physics and/or biology) and social science. Extra course work in math, social studies, and the arts and humanities is recommended. 

The discipline of design and its fields of architecture, planning, and landscape architecture deal with formulating solutions to many of the problems people face in their homes and cities, as well as suburban and natural environments. Architecture focuses on the design of buildings, while planning is concerned with the formulations of policies guiding the development of neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Landscape architecture focuses on both of these scales.

The college’s undergraduate program, located on the Boulder campus, offers the only pre-professional education in the fields of architecture and planning in the state of Colorado. Graduate professional degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and urban design are offered by the college on the university’s Denver Campus. 

To prepare for graduate professional study in architecture, landscape design, or planning/urban design, students may choose an undergraduate emphasis in one of these disciplinary areas. An individually structured emphasis in design studies is also available. All four of these emphases—architecture, landscape design, planning/urban design, and design studies—lead to the award of the bachelor of environmental design degree (BEnvd) as preparation for entry into graduate professional degree programs and the workplace.

Undergraduate Program

The college has taken a broad and integrated view of the design professions in developing its undergraduate curriculum and emphases. In recent years the problems and opportunities facing the design professions have changed dramatically, and demand a broader educational experience than the individual professions traditionally have supplied.

To prepare students for the constantly evolving nature of the design professions, the college asks them to enroll in a wide range of courses in the humanities, the arts, and the natural and social sciences so that they can view the world and contemporary culture from a variety of viewpoints.

Unlike undergraduate education in many other fields, students in architecture, planning, and design learn by doing. They experience design under the guidance of the college’s exceptional faculty, and from practicing designers in the Denver/Boulder metropolitan area. From the first day of the freshman year, students actively integrate and synthesize the knowledge gained in lectures and related course activities in their hands-on design classes.

The college’s required core classes throughout the entire curriculum are taught communally so that students from all design disciplines study shared problems together. Architects, landscape architects, urban and regional planners, urban designers, technologists, and environmental designers need to understand each other’s perspectives, and increasingly work together to find solutions to the complex issues involved in the design of the built environment. 

The undergraduate program in environmental design promotes the development of a body of knowledge that allows each student to understand and appreciate:

  • the major theoretical perspectives used to inform the way we design our physical environments and the significance of the designed environment in the evolution of human culture;
  • the different methodologies and processes used to give shape to our spaces, buildings, gardens, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and landscapes;
  • the complex interactions that take place between the physical, ecological, social, cultural, behavioral, and historical factors that influence the form and quality of designed environments;
  • the ethical perspectives that inform the way we work to design environments and settings that are healthy, sustainable, appropriate, and beneficial; and
  • the social, cultural, historical, and professional contexts within which environmental design is learned, practiced, and perfected.

In addition, the program supports the development of a range of methods and practices that encourages students to:

  • explore and use the design process as the unique way of thinking used to give shape and form to the designed environment, and to realize its value as the common process that architects, planners, and designers use to effect appropriate change in the designed environment; 
  • effectively and creatively design environments and settings—spaces, buildings, gardens, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and landscapes—using appropriate theories, precedents, methods, tools, and technologies;
  • use verbal, visual, and written materials to communicate design intentions and environmental outcomes so that students can work effectively as interns and professionals in the different fields that make up that group recognized as the design professions.