Program in Environmental Design

University of Colorado Boulder

Program Information

Welcome from the Director Designate

The Oxford geographer, Halford J. Mackinder once said, “All knowledge is one; its division into subjects is a concession to human weakness.” That comes close to describing the philosophical drive for the Environmental Design (ENVD) program as we embrace the opportunity to advance CU’s new School of the Environment and Sustainability.

The environmental challenges facing our society loom large and demand creative solutions. Our program’s expertise in addressing solutions within the context of built and natural environments provides our students with unique advantages. Influenced by the advice of the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius on the education of the architect, our students engage with a broad range of subjects in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, in order to understand the gravity of the challenges society faces and the contribution designers can make to addressing such challenges. ENVD fosters an innovative interdisciplinary education to prepare students for practice and advanced study in the design-based fields of architecture, landscape architecture and planning, as well as apply design thinking to a variety of other possible careers.   

These professions are in the midst of exciting changes, and we are driven to understand the new fundamentals of integrative and sustainable design thinking.  Our faculty push forth the frontiers of design research and practice in order to train our students to design sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, cities and regions. We do this by relying on:

  • design approaches that blend technical, ecological, economic, social, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical concerns;
  • evidence-based knowledge to help inform design and planning decisions;
  • an interdisciplinary culture of individuals who are not only experts in a core design and planning discipline, but also well-versed in the sciences, humanities, arts, and other professions; and
  • a spirit of service to diverse communities, to social justice, and to ecological sustainability.

Our graduates are uniquely qualified to confront the significant environmental challenges that lie ahead. Engaging in much more than vocational training, our students become adept at complex problem solving, analytical thinking, and leadership in order to lay the foundation for a purposeful and fulfilling career.

Students enroll in studios, lectures, and seminars taught by 30 faculty with both academic and professional expertise. They design innovative “green” buildings and infrastructure and they work directly with cities to figure out how to integrate social, ecological, and economic needs to support a sustainable future. Students apply state-of-the-art educational technology including computing tools, digital image databases, fabrication equipment, and advanced media to make a persuasive case and bring their ideas into light. Layer on top of all this the resources of the Boulder campus—from sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, and technology fields—and we offer an educational opportunity like no other.

The knowledge to address sustainable solutions for the built and natural environment requires holistic design thinking. Welcome to the next generation of Environmental Design at CU Boulder.

Kevin J. Krizek, PhD
Professor and Director, ENVD (effective July 1)