Can redesigning a water bottle help save our planet? How about a building that breathes, dinnerware for the blind, or a neighborhood rescued from urban blight? These are just a few of the questions our students and their projects have asked.
MICA's environmental design curriculum prepares designers who will increasingly find themselves at the center of converging professional disciplines. The historic barriers between design and nearly all other professional disciplines are quickly dissolving. In their place are new paradigms that put the designer in a crucial role to integrate diverse expertise in pursuit of solving complex social issues.
The role of the environmental designer is nearly limitless: nearly everything in your life is designed. The page you are reading, the chair you are sitting in, the room, building, block and city around you, even the airplane above your head and the train below your feet were all ideas turned into form. Each began as a question, "Why isn't there a ..." and ended with a solution that changed how we live, work, and play.
The goal of the Environmental Design Department is to create informed, critical, and passionate investigators of built form. From the smallest prototyped object, to furniture, to interior spaces, to architecture, to entire cities, environmental design is deeply concerned with addressing societal dilemmas through the exploration of form and materials. The exploration of ideas, forms, drawings, and tools is a holistic process, requiring mastery of different mediums, concepts, and methods. Students develop through visualizing and constructing their ideas. In environmental design this means acquiring comfort across the full spectrum of available techniques. From traditional hand and power tools to advanced rapid prototyping and remote sensing, or from freehand sketching to 3D animations, MICA students gain the necessary training to fully realize their ideas.
The curriculum begins with a series of introductory courses that provide students with core competencies and knowledge in the field. Students then select either an object design or spatial design track in order to focus their study on their primary area of interest. An expansive number of electives in either track allows each student to design a unique program of study in close consultation with the major advisor, choosing from MICA's offerings in a wide variety of disciplines. Students may also deepen their study in a particular area of the field with coursework offered in engineering, ancient history, business, and other disciplines at The Johns Hopkins University and other area colleges and universities. Numerous hands-on, real-world, and professional development opportunities are available for environmental design majors.
Equipped with the technical and conceptual tools demanded by today's professional design firms, MICA environmental design majors are well prepared to utilize their talents on a broad range of project types and sizes, and in a variety of settings. Many alumni pursue graduate study and practice in architecture, interior design, industrial design, and related fields.