Urban Pilot Lab

Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project


U of T’s deep urban expertise, across all fields, is tackling the future of cities. The School of Cities is where educators, institutions, practitioners and the public will engage in research, education and outreach to drive forward new city solutions – and a shared prosperity for all citizens.  

The Multidisciplinary Urban Capstone Project (MUCP) is a unique, full academic year capstone design course offered by the University of Toronto. All projects are sourced from cities, community groups and non-governmental organizations for whom the project addresses a real urban need, and requires a multidisciplinary approach to solve. 

Each project is assigned to a team of fourth-year undergraduates drawn from different disciplines. Student teams work through a creative, iterative, and open-ended design process to design solutions to meet client needs. Successfully completing the project requires that students integrate skills and knowledge from across multiple disciplines. Current participating undergraduate departments and faculties are Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Department of Geography and Planning, Rotman School of Management, the Urban Studies Program at Innis College, the Department of Sociology (UTSC and UTSG), and the Faculty of Information.

Submit a Statement of Need here

For More Information

There are many reasons why your organization should participate in the MUCP:

  • Introduce innovative concepts and improvements to your organization;
  • Obtain solutions to key design issues;
  • Address problems requiring infusion of talented resources from multiple disciplines;
  • Leverage technical and theoretical multidiscipline knowledge;
  • Identify potential employees for your organization;
  • Gain access to the expertise of UofT faculty and students members and;
  • Build long-term relationships with departments at UofT.

Resources for Projects

Student Resources

Each project will consist of 3-5 students, each working approximately 10 hours per week for about 26 weeks.

Client Resources

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts.

How to Participate

  • Submit a Statement of Need via the online submission form at https://www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca/mucp-son
  • The SON defines the general nature of the problem to be solved
  • Briefly explain the main idea or problem in one or two paragraphs
  • Include a problem/question that is specific enough so that a solution/answer will be recognizable, and requires a design solution. The problem/question should require a degree of sophistication to solve
  • An organization may submit multiple SONs 
  • Organizations can request for a Non-Disclosure Agreement to be signed by the students and supervisor.

Please review our overview on the design process PDF iconMUCP Design process.pdf

Completed SONs should be submitted before March 5, 2021. For applicants that wish to apply past the deadline, please contact capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca

Accepting SON

Acceptance notifications will be issued within one week after the deadline.

Selection Criteria For Projects

High value of the Project to the Partner Organization

The project should have the potential for real, positive impact on the organization or its clients. Multidisciplinary projects will address an urban related issue or challenge that the organization needs resolved, but may not have the resources or knowledge to complete on their own.

Appropriate Level of Risk to the Partner Organization

The project should not unduly expose the organization or its clients to downside risk should there be any delays or failure to deliver on the part of the students

High Relevance of Project to Students

In order to provide each student with the opportunity to apply their disciplinary skills and knowledge, MUCP seeks projects that span at least three disciplines.

Contact us:

For questions and inquiries please email capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Start and End time of the Course?

The course will run from September 2021 to March 2022 and will be equivalent to one full-year course of 10 hours per week for 26 weeks.

What can I have the students do?

The MUCP is not an internship or a co-op program. It is an independent research/capstone course. As such, student capacity will be limited to the time frame, in addition to their other course load. Clients should not expect students to go above the 10 hour per week commitment or have the same expectations of deliverables as an internship or co-op program. 

What kind of support do the teams need?

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This includes answering questions posed by the team, and reviewing and critiquing the project on an ongoing basis. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts.

Can I ask the students to continue working on the problem after the course has finalized?

Of course. You are welcome to do so but please discuss the matter with the student team. While the team is not required to continue work after the course ends, they may wish to volunteer to continue.

What is a Statement of Need? 

The Statement of Need (SON) provides students and faculty with an overview of your organization’s need. SON describes a problem that the team is to solve. The problem should be solvable using design-based methods (see next question). This will be clearly articulated in the Problem Statement component of the SON. However, the SON should not be prescriptive as to define an answer for the students.

The Scope of the Problem should also be clearly identified. For example, is there a geographic area? Are there specific components the students should consider? Which data set to use? What Experts are there to interview?

Sample SON format:  The problem of affordable housing. This below sections should expand, define, and articulate the constraints of providing affordable housing, and the broader specifications of need.

  1. Your organization’s need: Provide context for Organization X. 
  2. Project description: Organization X has resources A and B, but needs C to provide affordable housing. However, Organization X do not have resources to achieve C.
  3. Project requirements: Can you design a solution/answer to Organization X’s problem?
    1. Solution may be: How can you achieve C? Can we circumvent C? Is there an alternative to C? 

Most importantly, we hope the SON can provide the students with a rich, educational challenge, and will be of value to both the students and your organization. 

What is the “design process”?

A design process is a systematic problem-solving strategy, with criteria and constraints, used to develop many possible solutions to solve or satisfy human needs or wants and to narrow down the possible solutions to one final choice (ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy). The design process is used to explore the space for possible solutions or alternative solutions to the problem, from which the solution that best satisfies the requirements and constraints is selected. 

For more information, please review this PowerPoint: PDF iconMUCP Design process.pdf

What are the course deliverables?

The course assignments are designed to build towards achieving the course deliverables. The final deliverable will be a report that summarizes the research and investigation resulting from the design process. The following are the student deliverables:

  1. Project Requirements: defines the background of the problem, frames the problem, and outlines the scope. In addition, the Project Requirement should clearly state what the students expect from the Client, and the Client expectations for the students. 
  2. Design Proposal: The students are expected to explore and evaluate a number of potential solutions to arrive at a final solution informed to the best of their knowledge and propose the solution to the Client. 
  3. Design Review and Critique: The team will present and defend their design proposal. This is an opportunity to receive feedback and critique from the Clients and Supervisor(s), as well as additional direction.
  4. Final Report and Deliverable: The Final Report contains the complete design process from definition of the problem to the implementation of the solution and the results of testing (reflecting suitable iterations). It contains a discussion of the required future work in enough detail that the Client can implement the design without additional input from the Team. Elements of the final report may include drawings; analysis and simulation results, a prototype, etc. 

The MUCP is designed for exceptional fourth-year students who are looking for a unique, challenging capstone design experience. Students in the MUCP:

  • Apply knowledge, skills and processes from several disciplines to conduct analysis;
  • Demonstrate judgement as they integrate economic, environmental, social, and other pertinent interdisciplinary factors;
  • Incorporate teamwork, project management, and direct stakeholder and Client interaction; and
  • Prove the feasibility of their design concepts through simulation and prototyping.

Student Information Session:


Application Requirement:

Interested students from participating faculities and departments can submit their applications to capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca 

Your application should include:

  • Online application form
  • Statement of Interest (not to exceed 300 words).
    • This statement should clearly assert your interest in participating in the course. Please speak to a specific project, how would you approach the project (from your discipline), or what would you learn from it.
  • Resume
  • Unofficial Transcript

Round 1 student applications due May 28, 2021, 11:59 PM

Please check in Mid-April for the complete roster of projects available for the 2021/2022 year

Student Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Am I eligible applying for it?

You are eligible to apply if you are scheduled to take a capstone course. MUCP is a substitute course, you can take it in place of your departmental capstone or independent thesis course. 

Can I source my own project?

All submitted MUCP need an external client. Students can source a project but it will have to be approved by the disciplinary capstone coordinator and the course coordinator. 

What resources/facilities does the university provide to support the project?

These facilities and resources are posted on the course website once registered in the course.

If my team needs technical support or advice, is there another source of expertise aside from our supervisor and client whom we can approach?

If your team knows a faculty that is an expert, the team can seek advice from that individual directly. Note that the capstone coordinators are subject matter experts by default. They can also help you. 

The Client is expected to spend about 1-2 hours per week to support the project from September to March. This support includes timely access to any data essential for completing the project. The specific details and scope of the project are discussed in an initial meeting in September with the student team, faculty supervisor, and appropriate subject matter experts. 

What is the time commitment?

Each student will work 10 hours per week for about 26 weeks. This includes 6 workshops hosted by the course Supervisor to support the design process and the delivery of the project.

Can I form my own team?

While students can form their own team, each team member must apply separately. The departments will select team members that best reflect the needs of the client. 

I am not a student of participating departments, can I still apply for the MUCP?

At this time MUCP is open to participating departments. If your department is not currently listed and you wish to apply, please contact us at capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca. You may request a written permission from your host department to participate in the course along with your Statement of Interest and resume. 


2021-2022 Student Projects

Please check back in Mid-April for a list of available projects. 


2020-2021 Student Projects

WSP, an international management and consultancy services to the built and natural environment, has requested U of T students to develop a creative, evidence-based Master Plan overlay for Downtown Toronto's underutilised open spaces. Students will be challenged to assess what makes a public place successful (why do you chose to spend time there - such as built form; amenities; optimal/minimum size; location and context; materials; access and connectivity; comfort, seasonality and shading, etc.), and identify solutions that reimagine how the City maximises use and benefit from all outdoor spaces. Students will be presented with an opportunity to engage in primary research, as well as gathering information, interpretation and proposed application of global best practices in Complete Community design, with a focus on how to best use traditionally underutilised spaces (both existing and as a part of future development).

Click here to read more


The Neighbourhood Organization of Thorncliffe Park, a multicultural community located in the City of Toronto, to examine the following and aid in the development of a new Thorncliffe Park master plan for 21st century living. The proposed project is to re-envision and realize the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood as a complete community by contemporary standards, respecting both its current and future residents, by identifying gaps in social and physical infrastructure and proposing a program of solutions.

Click here to read more


The City of Toronto, Real Estate Services has called upon U of T students to aid in the development of a Master Plan for the First Parliament site. The First Parliament site is located on the SW corner of Front and Parliament Streets. It has historic significance as the site of Upper Canada's first purpose-built parliamentary buildings. Recognizing the importance of the site, the City of Toronto, working co-operatively with the Ontario Heritage Trust, commissioned a Heritage Interpretation Study and a Master Plan. The Heritage Interpretation Strategy is complete but the Master Plan and its guiding principles are currently in draft form. The timeline for the completion of the Master Plan is the Fall of 2020. 

Click here to read more

Missing middle housing can be defined as a cluster of housing types that can assist in meeting the increasing demand for affordable housing in large urban areas and is a strategy that can be incorporated into the City built form. However, despite its benefits, there are significant obstacles to "middle" housing that need to be addressed. Building small is not economical, but there are new forms of building techniques just coming on stream which may help narrow the gap such as wood frame (timber) and modular construction. Kehilla calls upon UofT students to study the cost implications of "missing middle" housing and develop a case study model that can illustrate what planning regulations need to be changed and what incentives need to be provided to make this type of housing both possible to be built and affordable to rent.

Click here to read more

Go Green Youth Centre (GGYC) started with an initiative to rejuvenate Valley Park Middle School’s backyard and adjacent Hydro land. Community members recognized that many newly immigrated South Asian youth were passionate about cricket in the Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park area, yet there were no facilities that could facilitate their games. The project asks students to engage in a strategic planning exercise, which involves envisioning a future site masterplan for the Go Green Cricket & Sports Field at Valley Park Middle School.

Click here to read more

On July 16, 17 and 18, 2019 Toronto City Council adopted a host of night city planning initiatives designed to support ‘around-the-clock’ economic vibrancy. These included the Toronto Nightlife Action Plan and that a Member of Council be designated as Toronto’s Night Ambassador. The project will be a collaborative effort between the City of Toronto and Arup. Primarily drawing on Arup IDEA resources, the project will pursue research, planning, and design work for night city planning initiatives that build on the City’s “Not Zoned for Dancing” report and can inform the City of Toronto’s strategic directions for implementing its Nightlife ActionPlan in areas outside the downtown core. The student Capstone team will be expected to identify priorities for nighttime economic development outside Toronto’s downtown core, research relevant planning and policy frameworks, and develop a high-level design brief that proposes means of implementing these findings, such as through a potential nightlife activation pilot project. 

Click here to read more

"At STEPS, we believe that public spaces—as sites of community—are disappearing It is our mission to validate diverse lived experiences, celebrate local culture, and foster inclusive spaces for people to gather, connect and participate in building vibrant cities." The City of Toronto has recently released the Toronto Public Art Strategy (2020-2030) that asks artists and art organizations to incorporate truth and reconciliation into public art as a means of celebrating Indigenous culture, educating the public about Indigenous history, fostering the agency of Indigenous creators and communities, and supporting Indigenous place-making. The STEPS Initiative is seeking to fulfill its role in advancing truth and reconciliation within the arts sector. The primary focus of this project is to explore the role of public art in reconciliation, given the complex histories of stolen land and the processes of gentrification that characterize urban public space. 

Click here to read more

Key Living (www.keyliving.com) is creating a totally new form of home ownership. Key Living aims increase accessibility to home ownership for millennials, new Canadians and others by having institutional investors participate in ownership alongside owner-residents. The firm has agreements in place to take control of 3300 newly built units valued at over $2.8 billion over the next 6 years. Key Living asks MUCP students to identify important metrics for success in developing a sense of community among potential owner-residents. How might these metrics be measured and evaluated?

Click here to read more

Stone Soup Network (SSN) is a community development project of Windermere United Church. The SSN calls upon UofT students to explore how SSN can contribute to neighbourhood resilience, in a way that is resourceful, caring, equitable and sustainable. 

Click here to read more


2019-2020 MUCP Student Projects