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About ARPA

To engage emerging global societies, climate change, and increasingly complex notions of the public sphere, new graduates in architecture must be prepared to navigate a multi-disciplinary profession. Architects not only design, but must also develop new forms of expertise.

Applied architectural research produces rigorous and speculative interpretations of issues facing the built environment. Researchers expand upon techniques of the discipline and critically adopt methods from other disciplines. As an applied practice, research promises to engage contemporary actors, sites and techniques, combining experimentation with inquiry into researchers’ ethical responsibility.

Applied Research Practices in Architecture (ARPA) supports students in the development of independent, applied research projects. The initiative, started in 2007 as Advanced Architectural Research (AAR), enables students to establish core ideas central to their future, independent practice. ARPA is dedicated to the idea that architectural practice can be driven not only by commissioned projects, but also through the initiation of original inquiry.


Each student in ARPA conducts an architectural research project over the course of two semesters that investigates specific questions in the field of architecture. Students expand the knowledge and skills acquired in completion of the master’s degree in a setting dedicated to applied research. All research is experimental in spirit, but nonetheless directed toward the potential for acquired knowledge to be applied to contemporary issues regarding the way architecture shapes the world.

The research can take many forms, including a design proposal, urban investigation, a technology, building system, or a fabrication experiment, to name a few. The results of the yearlong research initiative are to be presented as an exhibition, installation, book, website, database or other form.

Each student conducts research independently in consultation with a faculty advisor. All students are required to take “Methods in Applied Architectural Research.” In addition, the curriculum draws on courses already offered within the University, primarily through the GSAPP, but also in the fields of art history/archeology, anthropology, visual arts, engineering, public policy and elsewhere.


ARPA is for students who have completed a masters degree at the GSAPP. Students who will receive a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design (MS.AAD), Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design (MS.AUD), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Science in Urban Planning (MS.UP), Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MS.HP) or Master of Science of Real Estate Development (MS.RED) prior to the ARPA term are eligible to apply.

Student Resources

ARPA students benefit from the combined focus of the research and the extensive resources of the GSAPP.

Students’ research development is primarily supported by a faculty advisor, reviews of student work, and the ARPA methods course. Students also conduct studio visits with world class research institutions, and organize a symposium involving leading thinkers on applied research.

Students have a dedicated work space designed to support diverse methodologies of research work, and to foster varying forms of collaboration and influence among the cohort. Facilities also involve access to all computing and fabrication resources at the school.

All ARPA students will be considered for a Teaching Assistant position. Students who are not receiving fellowships from the school will receive compensation for their teaching duties.

Within the context of the school at large, ARPA students have an opportunity to engage faculty and research labs in all departments at the school. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the resources at Avery Library; events, exhibitions and publication organized at the GSAPP and the University; the Studio-X global network; and scholarship oportunities such as the Kinne Scholarship to fund travel and research.

Broadcasting ARPA

ARPA work is promoted through research reports and symposia organized by the students, and in GSAPP Abstract and the forthcoming ARPA Journal. Such publication opportunities allow students to promote and connect their work to contemporary research initiatives and institutions, even beyond the term of their study. Students projects offer unique contributions to a broader dialog about the nature of applied research and pressing issues facing the built environment.