Master of Architecture (MArch)

Program Overview

The Master’s degree in Architecture (MArch) at the McEwen School of Architecture is unique in Canada. The program draws heavily upon the study of northern community needs coupled with an integrated approach to building systems for northern climates. Building with wood, design for climate change and digital fabrication are three areas of study for advanced graduate work, including a final design Thesis.

Whereas the mode of delivery and the structure of the undergraduate program is focused on instruction and teaching basic lessons that an architect requires (i.e. skill set), the graduate program has a different inflection. The MArch is much more driven by the student’s individual design research (agency), supported by graduate courses and professors who offer more advanced insight, including their own specialized research.

The program length is two-years, with continued focus on experiential learning through design-build and community-design projects. Design studio options include ‘Architecture and Craft,’ ‘Indigenous Design’ or ‘Community Building.’ Two terms are devoted to co-operative education, placing students in design related offices locally, nationally and internationally. Specialized research is presented through research seminars while professional practice is emphasized through co-operative education and an advanced course in architectural practice. Courses on fabrication further expose students to the relationship between architecture and industry through making. A design Thesis forms the spine of the second year. Design courses (including Thesis) and co-operative placements are offered in both French and English. Studios within the graduate program at the McEwen School of Architecture include:

  • Year 5: Craft, Community & Indigenous Design (choice of graduate studio)
  • Year 6: Thesis Research and Design (individual design)

Program Details

The pedagogical goal of the MArch program is to integrate theory/practice and thinking/making through all design projects. A slightly expanded version of the March 1 and MArch 2 plan of study follows:

MArch 1
The structure of the five-term MArch program begins with a mandatory graduate studio (ARCH 5505, ARCH 5515, or ARCH 5525) where students choose one of three options:

  1. Community based design, continuing the working methods explored in the undergraduate program;
  2. Craft, which explores construction detailing, manual craft, or technologies including digital fabrication; or
  3. Indigenous Design, which explores indigenous issues in community design projects of a holistic nature.

Supporting the fall graduate Design Studio are two other courses: Fabrication 1 (ARCH 5306) builds upon the lessons learned in the undergraduate course Digital Fabrication (ARCH 4306). Fabrication 1 is the first of two Fabrication courses in the graduate program. Together, these Technology courses act in sequence to explore various methods and techniques of making and fabricating. The Fabrication courses support questions that arise in the Design Studio, and/or complement the expertise of professors leading these courses. The third fall course in called Architectural Practice (ARCH 5616) and it is situated in the first graduate term so that students can be introduced right away to building codes, the various forms of architectural contracts possible, and the types of architecture offices that exist, before they embark on the next two co-operative education terms, during the following winter and summer. Both the Fabrication course and the Architectural Practice course are placed in the first term in order to support independent graduate thinking as well as look ahead to practical office experience, including the Internship process upon graduation.

The second and third terms of the graduate program (Winter/Summer) are spent immersed in various design disciplines and practices, with Co-operative 3 and 4 (ARCH 5506 & 5606). During this time, students receive academic credit for their placements. As in the undergraduate co-op terms, both the employer and the student write an independent evaluation “report” outlining their experience. The invaluable lessons learned in practice then become folded into each student’s professional education through in-class presentations.

MArch 2
Although the second year of the graduate program technically begins with ARCH 5506 during the Summer term, the second Fall term of the graduate program (MArch 2) begins with Thesis Studio 1 (ARCH 5555), where each student proposes her/his own independent (but supervised) final year of study. As in many programs, the Thesis Studio spans both Fall and Winter terms. While the fall Thesis Studio 1 course is spent in developing research methods, writing a proposal that defines a thesis topic. The second term’s Thesis Studio 2 focuses on the design of an architectural project. This project may be drawn from working with a real community partner. In the fall term, the Thesis Studio 1 course is supported by a Faculty Research Seminar (ARCH 5316) and an Architectural Theory Seminar (ARCH 5006) that both act as vehicles to further provide a theoretical context for each student’s design proposal in the fall term. These mandatory courses are strategically placed to allow each student to explore design within the context of design-build and hands-on learning once again through the Fabrication 2 course.

The final Winter term of the graduate program is centred upon Thesis Studio 2 (ARCH 5565). Fabrication 2 (ARCH 5326) is an advanced course that supports the thesis investigation as well as allows a student to isolate a particular issue in detailing or design. This issue can then be pursued and developed with one of the professors acting as a guide. Just as “Cultural Sustainability” formed the final course of the BAS program, the final March course is called Material Culture (ARCH 5086). The “Material Culture” course places an emphasis on the Culture Stream, allowing the study of material culture, ethnography, and socio-cultural meaning to become a platform for indigenous or local design, as students prepare to present and defend their design thesis. The final Thesis projects will be on annual exhibition and review as the culmination of the Master of Architecture program, open to the wider community.

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Maîtrise en architecture (MArch)