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Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Material Systems

A material system is an assembly that is formed through complex feedbacks between matter, form, structure, energies, manufacturing processes, and interaction with environmental as well as human agents.

Important Dates & Information:

Application Deadline: January 15 
Intent to Enroll Deadline: April 15
Visit the Master of Science in Architecture admissions page to apply

Material Systems Overview

A material system is an assembly where interactions of matter and energies compute form, driven by complex constraints and feedbacks from manufacturing, environment and human interaction. The Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Material Systems (MS_MS) seeks to explore and exploit the unique material and spatial phenomena that emerge from the use of material methods and technologies. MS_MS provides motivated students with an opportunity to pursue architectural innovation within a context where design, composition and modes of production for scales from wearables to buildings have radically changed due to an increasing sophistication and pervasiveness of computationally driven design and fabrication technologies.

Material systems are examined for the ability to act in a responsive manner, by instrumentalizing their native material composition as well as introducing technologies for sensing and geometric transformation. Responsiveness is not confined only to degrees of morphabality, but rather in how their extra-systemic qualities are transformational when placed in different contexts or experienced in different manners. Collaborative project-based research prioritizes design through examination, ongoing iteration and calibration of experiments, both virtual and real.

Candidates work in small collaborative teams with faculty at Taubman College and across campus in departments such as Material Science, Engineering, Computer Science, Interaction, Art & Design and the Center for Sustainable Systems. 
Taubman College and the University of Michigan possess unique resources, such as the Taubman College FABLab, the Duderstadt Center with Motion Capture Lab and Immersive Virtual Environment, the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Lab, and the Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems. The Southeast Michigan region positions candidates in close proximity to some of the most advanced manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Sample Schedule

View the Master of Science in Architecture: Material Systems (PDF)

Material Systems Required Courses

The Master of Science in Architecture degree requires the completion of 36 credit hours carried out in three terms (10 months) (summer, fall, winter)

ARCH 706 – Theories in Material Systems - The course will provide a theoretical and discursive framework through which to approach material-based research and innovation within the discipline. Material systems will be situated within their physical, manufacturing, effective and ecological potentials. The course will cover literature, exemplary projects within the field as well as emerging paradigms and potentials for new work in the area of material systems. 

ARCH 707 – Physical Pursuits in Material Systems - This technique-based course covers topics related to material properties, behavior, performance, tooling, and manufacturing techniques. The course will focus, in part, on physical explorations in working processes related to the development of material assemblies, assessment of their behavior and effects, and their potential applications.

ARCH 708 – Technological Processes in Material Systems - This technique-based course focuses on computational design methodologies, which place materiality as a primary agent in the generation of complex morphologies. Topics covered will include topology, form-finding, computational simulation and analysis, and self-organizing self-structured systems. Work of the course will be combine material explorations with digital simulations.

ARCH 714 – Masters of Science in Architecture Proseminar - The course engages interdisciplinary work, projects and scholarship related to the MS areas of concentration (digital technologies, material systems, conservation, and design health) - through lectures, class discussion, and guest lectures including experts in the MS concentration areas.

ARCH 700 – MS Practicum in Material Systems - The course applies knowledge attained from the prerequisite courses towards project-based work in a ‘design laboratory’ setting. Students work individually and collaboratively on topics framed by the faculty’s research focus.

ARCH 739 – MS Capstone in Material Systems - The capstone course is an intensive team-based research project under the direction of the capstone faculty. The project is intended to be related to the research of the faculty as a means to investigate innovative aspects for the application of material systems. This work will be executed collaboratively in a format defined by the scope and demands of the project.

In addition to dedicated courses within the concentration, students are able to take 4 elective courses to advance their knowledge of related topics. A minimum of two of these electives must be university electives that allow for a connection to the university at large and expands respect for research methodologies beyond the discipline.

Faculty associated with the concentration:

Admission Materials