Jul 19, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 [Archived Catalog]

Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Built Ecologies) M.S.

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The program is offered to graduate architects and engineers, or others in comparable fields who are interested in researching architectural design in the context of emergent technologies moving built environments in the direction of clean, self-sustaining eco-systems. Students completing the M.S. will:

  • demonstrate general competence and base knowledge of the major principals governing dynamic bioclimatic design and the physics of energy and material science.
  • productively work within an inter-disciplinary design environment.
  • have acquired thorough knowledge of a chosen area of emergent technologies as it affects and informs design possibilities for the built environment.
  • demonstrate critical rigor and competence in the technical analysis of design problems.
  • possess the ability to apply such technical analysis to design problems and project new solutions based on the cross-referencing of information sets from multiple-disciplines.
  • display competence in the use of relevant computing platforms that facilitate the cross-referencing of such information across disciplines and scales.
  • be able to critically situate the above with an awareness of the broader socio-political implications, importance, and relevance of these efforts.

To foster an immediate intelligent and productive discourse in a concentrated one-year interdisciplinary program that joins students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, a common reading list is issued upon admission to the program for critical evaluation and response to the material prior to start of the program. During the fall semester, each student develops a Plan of Study with his or her adviser for review and approval by the Graduate Program Director. The Plan must include the anticipated courses, concentration, and area of research interest for further development.

Outcomes of the Graduate Curriculum

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of basic building physics and of how interdependent relationships between multiple building morphologies and the primary environmental control systems (heating, lighting, cooling, air quality) affect the overall physical conditions of energy flows through the building.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the broad range of interrelated computational protocols for climate, site and building programmatic analysis that are currently used as disciplinary standards for the design of integrated environmental controls in buildings with an awareness of emerging computational research in this broad and complex area.
  • analyze and compare various conventional building environmental control systems technologies and show a critical understanding of emerging technologies within their chosen area of inquiry.
  • assess, measure, and predict multiple design requirements of the primary environmental control systems based on macro and micro bioclimatic conditions and building typologies.
  • analyze the environmental needs of a building application, synthesize and communicate a design intent, and propose environmental control systems strategies within an overall architectural design framework.

Concentration in Built Ecologies Curriculum

The degree requires 30 credit hours.


  1. The Interdisciplinary Research Studio is comprised of a design research investigation and may consist of a faculty led group project or be part of an ongoing interdisciplinary faculty research project approved by the program committee.
  2. Both the Master’s Thesis and the Research Project are individual projects that will be conducted alongside or within current research streams at the School or Institute, however, the research project may also be conducted within a larger interdisciplinary research group or project.

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