Master of Advanced Architectural Design

Jeremy Ficca TRACK CHAIR

The Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) is a post-graduate, studio-based program that engages emerging methods of design and fabrication through architectural design to speculate upon future modes of architectural practice, enhanced construction methods, and material culture within the built environment.

MAAD Studio and Thesis work (2017-2018)

MAAD Studio and Thesis work (2017-2018)

Program Overview

With a particular emphasis upon design, the four-semester program leverages the School of Architecture’s and Carnegie Mellon’s core strengths in design fabrication, architectural robotics, computational design, and ecological thinking as vehicles for knowledge acquisition and speculation. 

The program focuses on the creation of new insights and new knowledge—or “research”—through the design process, or “research by design.”

The program seeks to probe the technical and cultural opportunities and implications of a data-rich future in which design methodologies, construction processes, and sustainable building life cycles are intrinsically interlaced.

The goal is consciously speculative and experimental work that is deeply enmeshed with social and environmental concerns, with explicit ties to humanistic and cultural discourses, industry, and contemporary practice. The faculty seek advanced-level projects that will position graduates as future thought leaders in architecture and allied fields relating to advanced fabrication, material performance, construction methodologies, or academia.

CMU’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, its computational culture, world-class robotic fabrication facilities, and a dedicated group of faculty offer unique “hands-on” opportunities for experimentation and speculation in the context of a small-scale, yet globally-focused, school and university.



The MAAD curriculum centers on thematic topics and associated design studios that are initiated by the core faculty to explore emerging themes, techniques, and cultural conditions. 

The design studios in the first year, taught by professors Ficca in the fall and Bard in the spring, foreground material and fabrication affordances and are accompanied by a core of required courses to provide a foundation in technique and application. Program-specific pro-seminars introduce contemporary discourse and situate the research topics in larger contexts. A diverse range of elective courses, offered internally and from across campus, are offered throughout the program. These design studios and courses help prepare students for one of the distinguishing features of the MAAD program: a year-long, independently determined but closely mentored design research project in the second year. This capstone project leverages the power, creativity, and speculative nature of the design process to generate new knowledge, ideas, understanding, practices, or paradigms.

The extended time frame allows for adequate background research, extensive methods and tools preparation, and professional documentation of the process and results.

Depending upon the size of the incoming MAAD class, the first year design studios may be co-located with advanced level students in the M.Arch and B.Arch programs.

View the MAAD curriculum.

Student Work

View galleries of student projects from Advanced Synthesis Option Studios (ASOS) and seminars below.


The MAAD program makes extensive use of the Design Fabrication Laboratory (dFAB) in the School of Architecture. This cutting-edge digital fabrication facility includes a large-scale flexible space featuring two industrial robot arms capable of supporting subtractive, additive, and transformative processes at significant scale. The MAAD design studios and required courses make extensive use of this facility. 


For more information about the MAAD program and the generous financial support packages that may be available to qualified candidates, please contact Jeremy Ficca, MAAD Track Chair at

Program Application Requirements

The MAAD program is intended for early- to mid-career professionals who already hold an architecture degree (B.A, B.S, B.Arch, M.Arch, or international equivalent).

Qualified candidates must demonstrate a familiarity with the proposed field of study and a high level of design ability through a statement of interest, a portfolio of design and research work, a transcript from the professional degree granting institution, and a CV. The statement of interest should indicate why the applicant would like to enroll in the program, which faculty they would like to work with, and what topics they could envision pursuing in their culminating design research project. The MAAD curriculum is four semesters of study, with all students expected to reside in Pittsburgh full-time.

Admitted candidates may apply for advanced standing based on previous coursework or professional experience, eliminating the first semester, and allowing them to begin studies in the spring term. Advanced standing is also available to qualified students within the School of Architecture’s B.Arch program through the Accelerated Master's Program (AMP).

Program Frequently Asked Questions

For program-specific questions, please refer to the information below.