Bachelor of Environmental Design

The Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEnvD) is a pre-professional, four-year undergraduate degree program. The BEnvD emphasizes the study of built and natural environments and provides a solid foundation for graduate education and/or careers in the design and building professions, including architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and construction management. For those students who go on to study architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level, our NAAB-recognized pre-professional degree allows them to enter two-year MArch and MLA programs either at UHM or at other institutions, versus three-year programs reserved for those students without a pre-professional degree.

Honolulu, the rest of O‘ahu, and the neighbor islands provide a critical locus of design discourse, linking research and creative activity. Through our undergraduate studios, which explore urban, architectural, landscape, and ecological design at multiple scales, the school provides training in a range of disciplines, covering multiple perspectives and interests. The BEnvD curriculum is structured to expose students to increasing levels of complexity in design work as they progress through the studio sequence. Students also engage with questions related to design at the urban scale and design of the landscape, with a concentrated focus on design for sustainability and resilience. This pedagogy coalesces with faculty-led research projects at the Environmental Research and Design Lab (ERDL).

The BEnvD follows a problem-based approach, grounded in systemic realities. Rather than engaging in purely conceptual projects, the program’s studios have increasingly featured briefs that address workforce and affordable housing, coastal resilience, tropical architecture, urban density, climate-responsive composition, indigenous design, flood mitigation, public health, corrections, food security, and the integration of alternative financial models. In addition to design studio courses, students complete a wide variety of other coursework, including classes in the history of world architecture and urbanism, environmental systems, professional ethics, and urban ecological analysis and design, in addition to their UH Mānoa General Education requirements. The school also offers a variety of upper-division architecture and open electives, which encompass topics as diverse as drawing and representation, design in Asia, computational design, and advanced topics in architectural history and theory.

BEnvD Student Learning Objectives


For additional BEnvD information, please contact:

Laura McGuire, PhD
Director of the BEnvD Program and Assistant Professor

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Catalog

BEnvD Admissions

Admission to the Bachelor of Environmental Design (BEnvD) program is handled by the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) undergraduate admissions office, visit UHM Office of Admissions admission requirements.

Professional Fee

In addition to UHM graduate tuition and fees, all UHM School of Architecture students, including MLA students, are assessed a professional fee in the amount of $500 per semester at the time tuition is paid. These fees help pay for the operational costs of the school’s IT Lab and Fabrication Lab. Students pay additionally for materials which are provided at cost.

Student Work

Interconnected Environments
Vivianne Nguyen
Fall 2018, ARCH 101 Introduction to the Built Environment
Volumetric Explorations
Beau Nakamori
Fall 2018, ARCH 101 Introduction to the Built Environment
Body of Work
Class of 2019
Fall 2019, ARCH 101 Introduction to the Built Environment
Kupu at Kewalo Harbor: Design of a Coastal Public Park and Non-Profit Building
Kris Jugueta
Fall 2015, ARCH 341 Intermediate Design Studio