Paul Chinowsky, Director, Program in Environmental DesignWelcome to the Program in Environmental Design!
What is environmental design? I believe the answer to that question is best understood by taking a moment to look around. The built environment is environmental design. The connection between the built and natural environments is environmental design. The emotions you feel when walking through a park, or a plaza or a garden is environmental design. Environmental design is not a single thing. Rather, environmental design is the understanding of how to create the built environment together with the planning of interactions between the built, human, and natural environments. Through architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and the study of design, environmental design is the place where individuals learn how to create the built environment in which we live, work, and play.

Environmental design is also about passion. A passion for creating a building or park that not only meets the needs of the users but adds a positive element to its surroundings for the next century or more. A passion for understanding the large and small details that change a space from just a place where one passes through to a space where one feels emotions and one wants to stop and feel the moment being in that space. Environmental design is about learning the psychology of space and how color, texture, natural elements, and light can enhance or detract from the experience of a space. Environmental design is about understanding people as much as understanding the creation of physical objects.

Environmental design is also about legacy and history. A lineage from ancient to modern times is encompassed within every design that is created. The placement of an arch or a window or a path can be influenced by thousands of years of design. Understanding how history informs new design is an essential element of design education and experience. Today’s environmental design students carry forward the traditions of design while learning to make their own rules that will influence later generations.

Environmental design is also about equity and inclusion. A unique strength of environmental design is that every person begins this adventure at the same place. Whether a high school experience emphasized the arts, science, social policy, or history, everyone begins the environmental design journey at the same place; learning the foundations of design. No other major brings such a diverse group of individuals together to pursue a common interest. Environmental design is a place where every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Each student will have a different experience in the environmental design program. However, the vision of this program is founded in its commitment to supporting the next generation of individuals that will create the built environment in which we live. Our commitment is not just to our students, but to the global community. The students who graduate from this program will be stewards of the environment and understand that every design should have a positive impact on those who encounter it.

My door is always open. I welcome your comments. Stop by and learn more about environmental design.

Paul S. Chinowsky, Director