Environmental Design

Course codes for this program are: ARCH and ENVD. 

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor’s in Environmental Design (BEnvd) Curriculum: 
The Core and the Disciplinary Emphases

All students entering the college, whether as freshmen, external transfer, or intrauniversity transfer students, initially enter as environmental design majors and are enrolled in the bachelor of environmental design degree program. All students admitted into the college’s undergraduate degree program graduate with the bachelor of environmental design degree with an emphasis major in architecture, landscape design, planning/urban design, or design studies.

In the core, entering ENVD students take a coordinated sequence of interdisciplinary courses that emphasize the knowledge, methods, and practices common to the fields of architecture, planning, urban design, and landscape design. As the established design professions are increasingly collaborating on complex design issues related to the designed environment, the mix of core courses reflects these interdisciplinary and integrative trends. The interdisciplinary core sequence is delivered in the first five semesters of the program.

Moving into the Emphasis Majors

After completion of the five-semester lower-division core and in the 6th semester Praxis, students choose a disciplinary emphasis in one of four specialized upper-division emphasis majors: architecture, landscape architecture design, planning/urban design, or design studies.

There are 30 required and elective credits in each emphasis major. Each emphasis has been carefully designed to prepare students for graduate studies, for entry into the workplace, or for both. The emphases in architecture, landscape architecture design, and planning/urban design are designed to potentially lead to accelerated programs of study in professional graduate programs. Students who elect the architecture emphasis complete 45 credits of elective courses in the arts, humanities, or sciences, in order to ensure a standard transition into a graduate program in architecture. Completing the environmental design degree may, depending on the particular requirements of graduate professional programs at other institutions, lead to advanced standing in those programs that can shorten the number of credits required to complete those programs.

Environmental Design Curriculum: Thematic Structure

The undergraduate environmental design program offered by the college has been designed to encourage interdisciplinary study and collaborative work. The program is administered collaboratively by three disciplinary undergraduate studies units: architecture studies, landscape studies, and planning/urban studies.

The first year of the core introduces students to the thematic settings, and to design thinking and design practice. The following three semesters focus on analysis and design in one of the disciplinary emphases. The first semester deals with the issues, ideas, and the design of urban spaces and settings. The second semester centers on the issues, ideas, and the design of landscape spaces and settings. The third semester explores architectural spaces and settings with a secondary focus on the issues surrounding the preservation and/or reuse (recycling) of buildings. The final three semesters of the curriculum, offer students the opportunity to specialize in one of the disciplines of environmental design—architecture, landscape architecture, and planning/urban design. Students wishing to pursue interdisciplinary study that crosses disciplines can choose the design studies emphasis. The sixth semester expands students’ experiences into the real world with a wide range of service learning, civic engagement, participatory design, and study abroad travel opportunities.

General Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 120 semester hours subject to the maximum outlined in this catalog, meet all specified major core requirements, and maintain a GPA of 2.000 or better.

Students must complete one course from each of the following General Education Requirements area. Courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better.

  • Writing
    WRTG 1150 or ARSC 1150
  • Humanities
    Choose one class from the following Arts and Sciences core areas: Human Diversity, Literature and the Arts, or Ideals and Values
  • Social Science
    Choose one class from the following Arts and Sciences core areas: Historical Context, United States Context, or Contemporary Societies
  • Math
    Choose one class from the emphasis area: Architecture: MATH 1150 or MATH 1300; Planning: MATH 2510 or SOCY 2061; Landscape Architecture: MATH 1150, MATH 1300, MATH 2510 or SOCY 2061
  • Natural Science
    Choose one class from the emphasis area: Architecture: PHYS 2010; Planning/Landscape Architecture: EBIO 1030 and 1050 or EBIO 1210 and 1230, CHEM 1111, PHYS 2010

Environmental Design Curriculum and Course Sequence 

Year One: Introduction

  • Semester I. The first semester of the core introduces students to the broad range of issues and forces that interact to affect the shape and form of the designed environment.
  • Semester II. The second semester of year one continues the exploration of the potential of critical design theories and practices to effect change in our environments at different scales and levels of complexity.

Years Two and Three: Exploration

  • Semester III. The first semester of the three-semester exploratory sequence studies the disciplines in greater depth and focuses on issues surrounding sustainability in the contemporary urban environment.
  • Semester IV. The second semester of the exploratory sequence addresses issues related to the appropriate design of the landscape at the scale of the house, the neighborhood, the city, and the region.
  • Semester V. In the last semester of the exploratory sequence, students focus on construction and building technology, and how they affect design thinking and design practice at the scale of the building.
  • Semester VI—Praxis. In this semester students select from a broad inventory of unique experiential course clusters. These cluster offerings represent a wide range of contextual, cultural, and experiential immersions. They include study abroad or study away, design build, internship, certificates, community outreach, civic engagement or service learning. Students participate in advising and presentation sessions in advance to prepare for their selection of an option. 

Year Four

Before entering the final year of the program, students decide on their primary emphasis (concentration): architecture, landscape architecture, planning/urban design or design studies. The concentrations provide students the opportunity to undertake concentrated study with disciplinary faculty in these areas. This year (30 credit hours) is intended to prepare students for advanced studies beyond their undergraduate degree or, in some cases, give them basic knowledge and skill sets necessary to enter the working public/private sectors. Students participate in advising and presentation sessions in advance to prepare for their selection of a concentration. Students are encouraged to seek specific advice from the faculty to discuss their desired concentration objectives.

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

First Year: Core Classes 

Fall Semester

  • *ENVD 1004 Introduction to Environmental Design Theory—3
  • *ENVD 1052 Design and Communication 1—3
  • *ENVD 2001 Social Factors and Design—3
  • Writing requirement—3
  • Humanities (see list of options above)—3

Spring Semester

  • *ENVD 1102 Design and Communication 2—3
  • *ENVD 1104 Introduction to Environmental Design Methods—3
  • *ENVD 2003 Ecology and Design—3
  • Science requirement  (see list of options above) (Note 1)—3
  • Social science (see list of options above)—3

Second Year: Core Classes 
Fall Semester

  • *ENVD 2120 Environmental Design Studio: Planning/Urban Design—6
  • *ENVD 3122 Research Issues and Methods in Planning and Design—3 
  • *ENVD 3124 Issues in Planning History—3 
  • Math requirement (see list of options above) (Note 2)—3

Spring Semester

  • *ENVD 2130 Intermediate Design Studio: Landscape Design—6
  • *ENVD 3003 Site Planning—3
  • *ENVD 3004 History of Landscape Architecture—3
  • Non-ENVD elective (Note 3)—3 

Third Year: Core Classes 
Fall Semester

  • ENVD 3100 Environmental Design Studio: Architectural Design—6
  • ENVD 3115 Introduction to Building Materials and Systems—3
  • ARCH3114 History of Architecture 1—3
  • Non-ENVD elective—3

Spring Semester

  • ENVD 3300 Selected ENVD Design Studio or Practicum—6
  • ENVD 3300 ENVD Seminar—3
  • ENVD or open electives—6

Required credits for core—90

Fourth Year: Concentration Options
Fall Semester

  • Selected ARCH, PLNG, LARC, ENVD Studio or core course—3-6
  • ENVD Seminar—3
  • ENVD or open elective—3-6
  • Non-ENVD elective—3

Spring Semester

  • Selected ARCH, PLNG, LARC, ENVD Studio or core course—3-6
  • ENVD Seminar—3
  • ENVD or open electives—3-6
  • Non-ENVD elective—3

Required credits for concentration—30

Course Notes
* These are linked core courses that are corequisites and are designed to be taken together.
1 Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a physics class.
2 Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a pre-calculus math class.
3 Students intending to enroll in the architecture emphasis are strongly encouraged to take a a total of 45 credits of general study.


Dual Degree Programs

Dual Degrees in Architecture and Planning

In addition to the BEnvd degree, students may pursue a degree in another college at CU-Boulder. Past students have received the BEnvd degree concurrently with undergraduate degrees in business, engineering, and various programs offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. Typically, specific course requirements do not change in either program of a double degree; however, additional hours (varying by college) may be required. All undergraduate students must complete the general education requirements and the requirements for their specific emphasis area within the College of Architecture and Planning in addition to the other college’s requirements. Students considering a double-degree program are encouraged to speak with advisors in both colleges to determine requirements and procedures for application.

Certificate Program

Certificates and Minors

Students are encouraged to explore the opportunity of adding a certificate or minor to their studies.  The following are a few certificates that the college supports towards its Praxis semester. Students interested in a certificate option for the Praxis semester, or in addition to their primary study, should contact their academic advisor to have a plan set in place prior to their junior year.  

  • INVST Community Studies
  • Western American Studies
  • Digital Media (CDM) Studies
  • Sustainable Practices