FIU is the first Florida university to launch a Doctor of Design (DDes) degree to prepare architects for global leadership careers in design investigation, industry, applied research and related emerging technology fields.
The DDes was approved by the Florida Board of Governors and will be offered in the spring 2021 semester through FIU’s Department of Architecture, housed in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts. The new degree is one of only five post-professional DDes programs nationwide.
“FIU’s climb as one of the nation’s top research universities is fueled by programs of the future such as this new Doctor of Design that involves experiential learning leveraging state-of-the-art technology,” said FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton. “We expect that graduates of this program will reach the highest levels of their profession and contribute to the body of design knowledge through scholarship, research and innovation.”
The 60-credit STEM doctoral program will be offered primarily online and will support research in architecture. It will cover the application of the latest computer tools to the design, visualization and fabrication of the built environment. As a post-professional degree, the DDes provides specialized credentials for advanced professional and academic applied research.
“The FIU Doctor of Design program builds upon the strength of the existing accredited programs that form the FIU School of Architecture and the departments of architecture, interior architecture, and landscape architecture + environmental and urban design,” said CARTA Dean Brian Schriner. “The expertise of our talented faculty allows the university to offer this degree that is on par with those offered at select leading universities nationwide.”
FIU architecture faculty have carried out more than $5 million in funded research, won numerous local, state, national and international awards, exhibited their work around the world and authored more than 60 books. The interdisciplinary architecture curriculum is supported by state-of-the-art, technology-focused CARTA facilities that include the Robotics and Digital Fabrication Laboratory (RDF Lab), Integrated Computer-Assisted Virtual Environment (I-CAVE), Structural + Environmental Technologies Lab (SET Lab), and the Innovation Lab at the FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios.
The DDes program is designed to be accessible and flexible for working professionals and includes a hybrid curriculum that is about 75 percent online. The remaining 25 percent consists of two-week, in-person residencies each year that will include lectures and workshops with distinguished experts, seminar discussions and studio-style critiques for learners. A parallel track will be available for learners interested in pursuing doctoral study entirely in person. Courses are designed to provide learners with a theoretical framework of the digital impact on architectural design and fabrication and also focus on emerging technologies, including robotics, digital fabrication, sensing and advanced visualization tools (virtual and augmented reality).
The program is led by professor Neil Leach, who has taught at many of the leading schools of architecture, including the Harvard Graduate School of Design; Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Cornell University; the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Architectural Association in London. He has published more than 40 books on architectural theory and digital practice, and has undertaken research for NASA. Leach is a member of the Academia Europaea, the leading academy in Europe that includes among its members 50 Nobel laureates.
“The Doctor of Design at FIU is a revolutionary new format for architectural education that is designed to produce a generation of architects with doctoral degrees to meet the challenges facing the profession and discipline,” Leach said.