Oct. 27, 2023

UCalgary launches cutting-edge Bachelor of Design in City Innovation program

New degree empowers a new generation of creative visionaries through transdisciplinary training in city-building
BDCI students
BDCI students prepare for a review of their design work. Max Krewiak, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) has unveiled its latest milestone in higher education: the Bachelor of Design in City Innovation (BDCI) degree.

Representing a groundbreaking initiative in the world of undergraduate design education in Canada, the BDCI program has been crafted to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to design thinking for cities. Courses in visualization, technology, global citizenship, urbanism, sustainability, data science and entrepreneurship augment the core studio-based curriculum.

“The world’s greatest challenges, such as climate change and social injustice, are grounded in the built environment,” says SAPL Dean John Brown. “This program is educating students to work across disciplines and understand the relationships between people and places — buildings, landscapes and cities.”

Designed for the 21st century, the BDCI program focuses on developing students' creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities, and technical skills — using the city itself as a laboratory.

“Cities are re-emerging as the crucial site for the mediation of society,” says Alberto de Salvatierra, associate dean (undergraduate) and associate professor of urbanism and data in architecture. “Cities must therefore be the fulcrum upon which bold solutions are found.”

Graduates of this program will be well equipped to address the complex challenges of our ever-changing world through the lens of design at a range of scales. The program also prepares students for admission into professional degree programs, such as the Master of Architecture (MArch), the Master of Planning (MPlan) and the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA).

“My experience in the inaugural cohort of the BDCI program has been better than anything I could have imagined,” says Raiyana S., a freshman in the BDCI programs. “Through collaborations with my peers and professors, I love that I am learning hands-on skills that I can use to create more sustainable and accessible communities.”

City Building Design Lab

Classroom learning is complemented by public lecture events and exhibitions, often hosted at SAPL’s downtown Calgary campus, the City Building Design Lab.

Max Krewiak, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

The curriculum of the BDCI program is a blend of theory and practical experience. Students have the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural hands-on projects, collaborate with industry professionals and municipalities through work-integrated learning studios, and gain a deep understanding of transdisciplinary design strategies for the built environment.

The program's transdisciplinary approach allows students to explore their passions and curate a bespoke trajectory with potential for open electives in health and society, management, and public policy (to name a few). Students can also pursue certificates in sustainability and entrepreneurship.

“This comprehensive and interconnected approach to an undergraduate education stands in direct contrast to pursuing siloed disciplines too early,” says de Salvatierra. “A strong transdisciplinary foundation is the key to untangling the complex issues of our time.”

The University of Calgary invites aspiring designers and creative thinkers from around the world to join us in this exciting journey. Applications for fall 2024 are now open.

“The future of city innovation starts here, and we look forward to building it with you,” says Brown.

Learn more about the BDCI.

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