PhD Program
Architecture and

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Page updated:
February 19, 2014

Options/Areas of Specialization

History and Theory

History and Theory are critical components of both Architecture and Landscape Architecture, informing practice and education in both fields. They also, however, stand alone as independent disciplines that contribute to our understanding of human history. At the University of Illinois, histories and theories of the built environment are regarded as essential contributions to scholarship in the humanities. As such, our students and faculty engage in dialogue with a wide range of historians and theoreticians across the campus, contributing spatial and visual modes of inquiry. The concerns of this option encompass the evolution of the entire cultural landscape, including the work of architects, landscape architects, and planners, but also with builders, craftspeople, and the ordinary men and women who create the human environment. The study of architectural and landscape history continually incorporates new research and methods derived from its essential links to other humanistic, social scientific, and technical disciplines. Some students in the History and Theory concentration elect to pursue the Graduate Minor in Heritage Studies. 

Health and Wellbeing

Students focused on Health and Wellbeing investigate the relationship between the built environment and human mental and physical health across a range of environment types from housing to education to healthcare to public space. Students work at a range scales from the micro to the macro. Recent research includes health equity and neighborhoods; housing and health; health and aging; experience, perception and identity; Daylighting, circadian rhythm and sleep disorders, and supportive environments for vulnerable populations. Students employ quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method approaches in their research. 

Technology and Environment

The option of Technology explores and studies the tools, methods and theories to improve our surroundings and building environments. This option presents a fertile field of research, which has a direct impact on design, management and construction, human comfort, economics, materials and structural systems. Technology encompasses several areas of study:

  1. Building Science and Environmental Technology deals with the science and theory of thermal, luminous, acoustical environments as they relate to building design and human comfort, and environmental control systems;
  2. Ecological Design focuses on research related to the design of human-constructed environments as they relate to ecosystem health, human health and comfort, and restoration, remediation and preservation of earth’s natural resources;
  3. Structures, Materials, and Construction deals with the strength and properties of materials, structures, construction methods and business practice and management;
  4. Information and Digital Technology deals with the development of new methodologies of communication and design management, integration and execution of design, methods of visualization, representation and experiencing of designed environments.


Urbanism students focus on the city and its complex spatial productions at the intersection of the social, political, cultural, technological and economic realms. Investigations may encompass the historical or contemporary city in the global north and/or global south and employ a mixed qualitative and quantitative methods approach.