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Harvard Graduate School of Design

Coordinates: 42°22′33″N 71°06′50″W / 42.3758°N 71.1139°W / 42.3758; -71.1139
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Harvard Graduate School of Design
TypePrivate graduate school of design
  • 1874 (first courses taught)
  • 1936 (GSD established)
Parent institution
Harvard University
DeanSarah Whiting
Academic staff
  • 878
  • 362 (architecture)
  • 161 (urban planning and design)
  • 182 (landscape architecture)
  • 173 (doctoral/design studies)

42°22′33″N 71°06′50″W / 42.3758°N 71.1139°W / 42.3758; -71.1139

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) is the graduate school of design at Harvard University, a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It offers master's and doctoral programs in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, real estate,[1] design engineering, and design studies.

The GSD has over 13,000 alumni and has graduated many famous architects, urban planners, and landscape architects. The school is considered a global academic leader in design fields.[2][3]

The GSD has the world's oldest landscape architecture program (founded in 1893) and North America's oldest urban planning program (founded in 1900). Architecture was first taught at Harvard University in 1874.[4] The Graduate School of Design was officially established in 1936, combining the three fields of landscape architecture, urban planning, and architecture under one graduate school.[5]


Charles Eliot Norton brought the first architecture courses to Harvard University in 1874


Charles Eliot Norton brought the first architecture classes to Harvard University in 1874.[6]

Landscape architecture[edit]

In 1893, the nation's first professional course in landscape architecture was offered at Harvard University. In 1900, the world's first landscape architecture program was established by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Arthur A. Shurcliff. The School of Landscape Architecture was established in 1913.[7] Lester Collins who studied there, graduating in 1942, became professor after World War II, and soon Dean of the course.[8][9]

Urban planning and design[edit]

In 1900, the first urban planning courses were taught at Harvard University, and by 1909, urban planning courses taught by James Sturgis Pray were added to Harvard's design curriculum as part of the then School of Landscape Architecture. In 1923, a specialization in urban planning was established under the degree program of Master in Landscape Architecture. In 1929, North America's first urban planning degree (at the graduate level) was established at Harvard under short-term funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. The planning program migrated to the Graduate School of Design in 1936. Then in 1981, the then City and Regional Planning Program under John Kain ceased at the Graduate School of Design and was dispersed to the Kennedy School of Government and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1984, the Department of Urban Planning and Design was formed under Dean Gerald M. McCue with the inclusion of the Urban Design Program. Then in 1994, the Urban Planning program was officially returned to the Graduate School of Design under the aegis of Albert Carnesale, the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government, and Peter G. Rowe, the Dean of the Faculty of Design; with the first class entering in academic year 1994–1995. At the time, this program was envisioned as a physical planning program. In 2021, the Department of Urban Planning and Design assumed responsibility for a third graduate degree, the Master in Real Estate[10] (MRE).


The three major design professions (landscape architecture, urban planning, and architecture) were officially united in 1936 to form the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Joseph F. Hudnut (1886–1968) was an American architect scholar and professor who was the first dean. In 1937, Walter Gropius joined the GSD faculty as chair of the Department of Architecture and brought modern designers, including Marcel Breuer to help revamp the curriculum.

In 1960, Josep Lluís Sert established the nation's first Urban Design program. George Gund Hall, which is the present iconic home GSD, opened in 1972 and was designed by Australian architect and GSD graduate John Andrews. The school's now defunct Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis (LCGSA) led by the Department of Landscape Architecture is widely recognized as the research/development environment from which the now-commercialized technology of geographic information systems (GIS) emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s. More recent research initiatives include the Design Robotics Group, a unit that investigates new material systems and fabrication technologies in the context of architectural design and construction.[11][5]


Dean Tenure Career
Joseph Hudnut 1936–1953 Architect
Josep Lluís Sert 1953–1969 Architect and urban planner
Maurice D. Kilbridge 1969–1980 Urban planner
Gerald M. McCue 1980–1992 Architect
Peter G. Rowe 1992–2004 Architect
Alan A. Altshuler 2005–2008 Urban planner
Mohsen Mostafavi 2008–2019 Architect
Sarah M. Whiting 2019–present Architect


Gund Hall, designed by architect John Andrews in 1972, is the home of the Harvard Graduate School of Design
The historic Robinson Hall in Harvard Yard was the home of the GSD until 1972, when the school moved to nearby Gund Hall.

The degrees granted in the masters programs include the Master in Landscape Architecture (MLA), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Architecture in Urban Design (MAUD), Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design (MLAUD), Master in Urban Planning (MUP), Master in Real Estate (MRE), Master in Design Engineering (MDE), Master in Design Studies (MDes). The school also offers the Doctor of Design (DDes) and jointly administers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.[12]


As of 2016, the program's ten-year average ranking places it first, overall, on DesignIntelligence's ranking of programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Executive Education[edit]

Executive Education operates within GSD providing professional development classes.[16] The Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate (AMDP) is a year-long executive development course open to established real estate professionals. Upon graduating from AMDP, participants are full-fledged Harvard University Alumni. Throughout the year, Executive Education offers short duration programs in the fields of architecture, urban planning, design, and real estate to a diverse audience of learners.[16]

Student body[edit]

As of 2012–2013, there were 878 students enrolled. 362 students or 42% were enrolled in architecture, 182 students or 21% in landscape architecture, 161 students or 18% in urban planning, and 173 students or 20% in doctoral or design studies programs. Approximately, 65% of students were Americans. The average student is 27 years old.[17] GSD students are represented by the Harvard Graduate Council (HGC), a university-wide student government organization. There are also several dozen internal GSD student clubs.[18]

Research and publications[edit]

In addition to its degree programs, the GSD administers the Loeb Fellowship,[19] and has hosted numerous research initiatives such as the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure[20] and TUT-POL: Transforming Urban Transport - The Role of Political Leadership,[21] led by Diane E. Davis and Lily Song. The school publishes the bi-annual Harvard Design Magazine, Platform, and other design books and studio works. Since 1935, the institution has presented the Wheelwright Prize, an international architecture traveling fellowship.[22]

Design Research Labs[edit]

The GSD Design Labs synthesize theoretical and applied knowledge through research with the intent to enable design to be an agent of change in society. There are seven current labs: Material Processes and Systems Group; Energy, Environments and Design; New Geographies Lab; Responsive Environments and Artifacts Lab; Social Agency Lab; Urban Theory Lab; Geometry Lab.


The GSD campus is located northeast of Harvard Yard and across the street from Memorial Hall. Gund Hall is the main building of the GSD, and it houses most of the student space and faculty offices. Other nearby buildings include space for the school's Design Research Labs, faculty offices, the Loeb Fellowship program office, and research space for students, including those in the MDes and DDes programs.

Gund Hall[edit]

Gund Hall's huge slanted glass roof provides light to the 5 staggered levels of studio space, known as the Trays[23]
The Trays within Gund Hall.

Gund Hall is the main building, which has studio spaces and offices for approximately 800 students and more than 100 faculty and staff, lecture and seminar rooms, workshops and darkrooms, an audiovisual center, computer facilities, Chauhaus, the cafeteria, a project room, Piper Auditorium, and the Frances Loeb Library. The central studio space, also known as the Trays, extends through five levels under a stepped, clear-span roof. Gund Hall has a yard that comprises a basketball court and is often used for events, as an exhibition area for class projects, and as the setting for commencement ceremonies. The building was designed by architect John Andrews and supervised by structural engineer William LeMessurier both GSD alumni.[24]

Frances Loeb Library[edit]

The Frances Loeb Library, is the main library of the Graduate School of Design. The library has a collection of over 300,000 books and journals. It also has a Materials and Visual Resources Department, and the Special Collections Department, which houses the GSD's rare books and manuscript collection.

Fabrication Lab[edit]

The Fabrication Lab has both traditional tools and state-of-the-art technology available for model making and prototyping to faculty research and student course work. The Fabrication Lab has a full wood shop, metals shop, printing labs, 3D printing, CNC tools, robotic machines, laser cutter machines, etc.[25]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

As of 2013, the GSD had over 13,000 alumni in 96 countries. The GSD had 77 faculty members and 129 visiting faculty members. 45% of the faculty members were born outside of the United States.[26]

Frank Gehry studied urban planning at the GSD. Though he did not complete the program, he received an honorary doctorate from the school in 2000.
Philip Johnson, architecture alumnus
José Rafael Moneo Vallés, architecture faculty
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., founder of the landscape architecture program


Current faculty[edit]

Notable faculty currently at the school include Martin Bechthold, Anita Berrizbeitia, Eve Blau, Sean Canty, Jennifer Bonner, Hanif Kara, Jorge Silvetti, Antoine Picon, Farshid Moussavi, Jeanne Gang, Peter G. Rowe, John R. Stilgoe, K. Michael Hays, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Mohsen Mostafavi, Preston Scott Cohen, Rahul Mehrotra, Rem Koolhaas, Grace La, Rafael Moneo, Sarah M. Whiting, Toshiko Mori, Mark Lee, and Sharon Johnston.

Emeritus faculty[edit]

Former faculty[edit]


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  14. ^ "Harvard Graduate School of Design - Homepage". www.gsd.harvard.edu. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
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  18. ^ Student Group Directory, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Retrieved 22 April 2018
  19. ^ "The LOEB Fellowship". The LOEB Fellowship. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  20. ^ "Zofnass Programme for Sustainable Infrastructure". Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  21. ^ "Transforming Urban Transport - the Project". Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  22. ^ Dagenais, Travis (September 10, 2019). "The Grand Tour: GSD's Wheelwright Prize reminds architects of the power of global research". Harvard Graduate School of Design. Retrieved June 23, 2024.
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External links[edit]