The School of Architecture at Andrews University advocates the building and preservation of rural and urban landscapes that promote civility, healthy living and environmental stewardship. During their final year of study, architecture students at Andrews participate in the annual Urban Design Studio to serve a community seeking improved growth strategies. Urban design and planning principles are taught throughout the curriculum in an effort to pursue a coherent relationship between the design of individual buildings and the cultivation of larger landscapes.

Since 1997, Andrews University has conducted the Urban Design Studio according the principles set out by The New Urbanism - an international interdisciplinary movement that advocates the building of sustainable communities. The Charter of the New Urbanism promotes landscape preservation, walkable neighborhoods, stable and sustainable communities, public life, and the celebration of local heritage as an alternative to suburban sprawl and the excesses of the industrial city. (Please visit www.cnu.org to learn more about New Urbanism.) In this context, the School of Architecture seeks to serve urban neighborhoods, towns, villages, and rural communities in their community-building efforts by providing useful planning proposals and legal implementation mechanisms.

Every year, the Urban Design Studio takes on such a project in a real community by hosting a citizen-based participatory planning process, also known as a 'charrette'. The charrette team includes graduate students and often a selection of supporting consultants that are national leaders within the profession. The team typically spends an intense 8-10 days in September within the client community to study local conditions and to jumpstart the design and planning process with public participation. A final proposal document, including proposed regulatory policies such as a form-based code, is completed at Andrews University in the remaining academic semester. Past projects have included work in Palmer (Alaska); Great Abaco Island (The Bahamas); Michigan City and Plymouth (Indiana); Berrien Springs, Cedarville, Empire, Suttons Bay, Traverse City, and Wayne (Michigan); Saucier (Mississippi), Billings (Montana), and a self-initiated project in Santa Fe (New Mexico). Student proposals are reviewed by New Urban practitioners of national stature and have led to implementation in several communities.

In 2006, Andrews University was ranked by New Urban News as one of the best six US schools in which to study New Urbanism. The studio has also been recognized with four CNU Charter Awards of Excellence for its work in Mississippi (2007), Indiana (2008), The Bahamas (2009) and Santa Fe (2010). Communities interested in the process, details and costs can contact the studio’s director, Professor Andrew von Maur, CNU-Accredited, at avonmaur@andrews.edu. Andrew von Maur has extensive urban design experience and has collaborated with leading firms such as Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. (DPZ) and PlaceMakers, LLC.