Shaped by history, the challenges of an industrialized world, and forward-thinking architects, the College of Environmental Design grew from a single course in the late 1800s to the dynamic multidisciplinary college it is today.
William Wurster, prominent teacher, practitioner, and former dean at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took over the architecture program in 1950. Instituting a change in philosophy, he explored the idea of a new college combining architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Catherine Bauer, leader and advocate for public housing and a member of the social welfare faculty, who later married Wurster, was among the early proponents. It was Bauer who stressed that social science informed design, and that research and design should coexist in the new college.
In 1959, Wurster became dean of the new College of Environmental Design, consisting of the Department of City and Regional Planning, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and the Department of Architecture. In 1964, the college moved to the newly constructed Wurster Hall, named for both William and Catherine.
Motivated by a desire to broaden the ways that we analyze, understand, and design our environment, CED has been at the forefront of environmental design education since our founding in 1959. We were the first to combine architecture, planning, and landscape architecture into a single college. We were among the first to teach that truly meaningful design must have a social, cultural, and political focus as well as be aesthetically pleasing. And we were also among the first to offer doctor of philosophy degrees in the three professional disciplines.
Our undergraduate programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban studies combine general education with an introduction to the environmental design professions. Our undergraduate majors equip students for work in these or related fields as well as for graduate study. Our graduate programs educate professionals to be leaders who shape policies and practices in their fields.
All our programs are based on the belief that we have a responsibility not only to educate but also to encourage students to create sustainable buildings, environments, and communities based on sound ethical, social, and ecological principles.