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 STG), and the Faculty of Information.

We are now accepting project submissions from organizations for the 2020-2021 academic year. Organizations may submit a Statement of Need (SON) through the online submission form until March 27, 2020. The SON should define the general nature of the problem to be solved and it must require a design solution. More detailed information about the submission process can be found below under Prospective Clients.

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 consists 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

  • Request a Statement of Need (SON) form by sending an email to capstone.sofc@utoronto.ca or 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 27th, 2020. 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 2020 to March 2021 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.

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. 
  • Resume

Next round of applications opens March 30, 2020 along with project information

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. 

2020-2021 Projects

The Bronte Village BIA, in the Town of Oakville, has called upon students at U of T to develop a short-term interim public realm strategy, best practice guidelines for seniors’ neighbourhoods and a strategy for evolving Bronte as a '20-minute neighbourhood.’'

Under new leadership, the Bronte Village BIA will undertake a visioning & engagement initiative in Summer 2020 to Re-imagine Bronte; to collectively define what locals and visitors want Bronte to look, feel, taste and smell like in 2040. The results of the public visioning exercise will enable the BIA to create a three-year strategic plan that champions, supports and enables the significant transition that is coming to the neighbourhood. The vision for the neighbourhood should lead to advocacy strategies for the BIA to promote active mobility, managed growth, and mitigation of construction impacts. Ideally, it will also serve as a foundational and/or reference document for the Town as it implements growth initiatives and/or developers or businesses as they consider locating in the area. The visioning exercise’s intended outcomes will help better define who the local audience is, what their lifestyle and consumer needs are, now, and in the future, ideally what a ’20-minute neighbourhood’ could look like in Bronte, expectations of current and future retailers, developers and residents, and the collective aspirational dream for the area. 

Click here to read more

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

The project includes developing an overlay to the existing Parks and Open Spaces Master Plans for downtown Toronto to integrate underutilised spaces into the open space network (or another growth centre within the GTA). 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). Creative, bold ideas will be encouraged, and students will have opportunity tohone their ability to critique and evaluate solutions.

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. 

Provincial Government announced in April 2019 that Metrolinx will build a new rapid transit line, called the Ontario Line, between Thorncliffe Park and downtown Toronto by 2027. TNO led public consultations about the Ontario Line in Thorncliffe Park in October 2019, which included a town hall and an online survey. While support for new transit opportunities was high, 82%, residents demonstrated through their input that they want to actively participate in planning the future of their community. 

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. We would like University of Toronto students in the MUCP program to:

Develop a conceptual framework for a "healthy built environment" to serve as a guide for Thorncliffe Park's future growth and economic development that aligns with the proposed Ontario Line project.

  • Develop design recommendations and approaches to improve existing open spaces in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood (RV Burgess Park, Leaside Park, side and front of 79 Thorncliffe Park, front and back left of 75, front left of 53 Thorncliffe Park, front right of 49 Thorncliffe Park, front of 47 Thorncliffe Park, front of 43 Thorncliffe Park, East York Town Centre Mall parking lot, walkway from Leaside Park to Thorncliffe Park)
  • Consider how to make these open spaces more usable, safer, greener, with improved pedestrian connections
  • Include one outreach component to promote the design recommendation (ex: report, pamphlet, multimedia campaign, social media, etc.)

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. 

Provincial Government announced in April 2019 that Metrolinx will build a new rapid transit line, called the Ontario Line, between Thorncliffe Park and downtown Toronto by 2027. TNO led public consultations about the Ontario Line in Thorncliffe Park in October 2019, which included a town hall and an online survey. While support for new transit opportunities was high, 82%, residents demonstrated through their input that they want to actively participate in planning the future of their community. 

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. We would like University of Toronto students in the MUCP program to:

Design a community benefits plan for the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.

  • Consider local employment, opportunities for social enterprise, and ways to strengthen the community foundation for economic development, business incubation, and resilient business strategies for the neighbourhoood to most benefit from the development of the Ontario Line
  • Include one outreach component to promote the design recommendation (ex: report, pamphlet, multimedia campaign, social media, etc.)

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. 

Students are asked to:

  • Review the Master Plan's vision and guiding principles
  • Identify opportunities and issues/constraints
  • Develop a conceptual plan showing proposed uses, potential locations/building footprints, site elements, park and park features and interpretation activities
  • Provide a rationale for the location of the uses/elements/features/activities

Of particular interest is the central portion of the site which is the area of archaeological potential. From archaeological investigations that the City has undertaken, there are traces of the First and Second parliament buildings underneath the ground. However, these remains are fragile and are embedded in contaminated soil. One of the guiding principles recommended by the Master Plan is that the central portion of the site be celebrated. How does one bring the site's history to light where there are no buildings or structures to help illuminate its past? This is a key question requiring thought and creativity and as there can be many solutions, it is an ideal student project. To assist the student team, the Heritage Interpretation Strategy outlines the stories that can be told and identifies an interpretation framework including methods of communication and interpretation tools.

Click here to read more

Students of U of T are called upon to undertake multiple lines of inquiry into Harbourfront Centre's long-term financial sustainability, and that could have immediate application to City policy and intergovernmental advocacy efforts. Toronto's Harbourfront Centre is today a critical component of both Toronto's cultural life and its increasingly vibrant waterfront district. However, its aspirational origins as a federal urban development initiative have left a mixed legacy in terms of the Harbourfront Centre's (HC) ongoing financial sustainability.

Students undertaking the proposed project would be expected to produce analysis that offered an independent assessment of HC's challenges as well as pointed to options not currently under consideration by key stakeholders such as the City, the federal government and HC itself. Such analysis could include advice on the following: business model refinements; inter-governmental advocacy strategies; solutions integrated with HC's broader position in the local cultural economy and that of the redeveloping waterfront, to include potential linkages with other major adjacent city-building initiatives such as Villiers Island, Quayside, Bathurst Quay, etc. Specific products could include research reports and presentations to key stakeholders such as the City's Economic Development and Culture Division, the Department of Canadian Heritage of the federal government and the board and management of Harbourfront Centre.

Click here to read more

2019-2020 Projects