Taubman College

Studio Experience

Studios are the heart of the M.U.D. Program and are integrated with required seminars and courses through readings, research papers, and case studies.

Studios meet three times or 12 hours per week during fall and winter terms. Given their intensity, it is expected that students will spend between 12 and 24 additional hours on studio research and design projects each week. During the summer term, the program's introductory studio is held five days per week.

The M.U.D. Program enjoys its own space within the larger Taubman College studio, the nation's largest academic studio facility, three quarters of an acre in size, where urban design, architecture, and planning students and faculty exchange ideas. All M.U.D. students have their own desks assigned for the duration of the program, which enables them to outfit them to best support their working methods. Taubman College provides high-speed Internet access for laptops (which students themselves provide), as well as extensive computer facilities on the studio floor and throughout the building.

M.U.D. studios prepare urban designers both to design and think. Reading, film viewing, and travel accompany design projects, opening students to new insights into urban form, history, and theory. Conversation is central to the studio, at the desk between faculty and student, and within the larger group at pin-ups, roundtables, and reviews. In addition, time is set aside for students to present and reflect on cities from their countries of origin, exposing their colleagues to urbanism from around the world.

Studio Week-at-a-Glance

Below is the schedule of a representative week in a M.U.D. studio that reflects the intensity – and mobility – of the experience.


  • Film viewing: The Third Man. 1949, Carol Reed, director. Setting: Vienna, Austria. Discussion topics: The urban section, from underground infrastructure to skyline; the urban window as aperture between public and private space; the city as transient place.
  • Student presentation: Bombay, India
  • Desk crits regarding urban design precedents.


  • Bibliographical discussion: The Alphabetical City by Steven Holl.
  • Pin-up of urban design precedents such as Rockefeller Center, New York; Potsdamerplatz, Berlin; CCTV Office Tower, Beijing; City Walk, Los Angeles; Euralille, France. Design precedents to be bound into document and reproduced for each student for reference during development of studio design projects.


  • Depart for Chicago


  • Early morning: Tour Chicago's Loop
  • Morning: Separate meetings with Chicago City Planning Department urban designers; Chicago Public Schools representative; and Chicago Parks District landscape architect.
  • Afternoon: Tour Lake Michigan waterfront
  • Evening: Meeting with City of Chicago Cultural Historian and reception with Chicago-area architects and developers.


  • Day: Chicago reconnaissance including Loop buildings by Louis Sullivan, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, and Helmut Jahn: Millenium Park by Frank Gehry; Michigan Avenue by Daniel Burnham; and Convention Center by Mies van der Rohe
  • Evening: Dinner in Chinatown with MUD Chicago-area alumni.


  • Morning: Tour Chicago's Southside, including Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) by Mies van der Rohe with new dormitories by Helmut Jahn.
  • Afternoon: Meet at IIT Student Activities Center by Rem Koolhaas
  • Afternoon assignment: Break into teams for photographic documentation of site areas toward creation of Chicago narratives or storyboards. Narratives are to depict character(s) movement through urban space related to studio's discussion of film. Narratives will help establish both Chicago design project themes and means for representing project outcomes.
  • Evening: Return to Ann Arbor.

At a typical MUD review, urban design, architecture and urban planning faculty as well as professional representatives and MUD alumni join students in intensive and highly interactive discussions of their work.