OCAD University
Maya Desai
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Ecological Approaches to Urban Design and Environmental Planning, Cultural Landscapes and Human-Environment Interaction, Public Health in the Built and Natural Environment, Technology in Environmental Design


Maya is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Design whose research and practice focus on ecological and socio-cultural frameworks of the built and natural environment. Her diverse academic and professional background in architecture, planning, and health science informs her interest in studying the relationship between nature, culture, and human health and exploring the integrative role design and technology can play in bridging disciplinary territories. Maya was shortlisted for the Canada Council for the Arts Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners and the recipient of the Architectural Research Consortium’s King Medal for Research and Innovation in Environmental Design for her experimental research into how cultural perspectives on nature can inform technological approaches to environmental conservation. 

Maya’s professional work spans a variety of scales, from managing large-scale planning projects for the Government of Ontario to designing comprehensive master plans, institutional facilities and cultural architecture projects in Canada and the Middle East. Maya continues to practice as the Senior Urban Designer and Planner at the award-winning firm of Moriyama Teshima Architects, leading urban design and environmental planning projects that prioritize cultural narrative, resilient solutions and collaborative community engagement processes. Her work has included urban design projects for institutions and clients such as the Qatar Foundation, the University of Lethbridge, Wilfrid-Laurier University, Conestoga College, the Town of Whitby and the Surrey City Development Corporation. 


  • Graduate Certificate (Mixed Methods Research), School of Social Work, University of Michigan, 2015
  • M.Arch, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Design, University of Toronto, 2010
  • M.Arch Coursework, Tsing Hua University, Beijing, China, 2008
  • BFA with Distinction (Design Art & Computation Arts), Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 2003
  • BSc Coursework (Mathematics, Biology, Ecology), Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 2000
  • DEC (Honours Pure and Applied Science), Cegep Dawson, Montreal, Canada, 1997