Academic Bio Photo
Maya Mahgoub-Desai
Associate Professor, Chair of Environmental Design
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Ecological Approaches to Urban Design and Environmental Planning, Public Health in the Built and Natural Environment, Inclusion and decolonization in design studio pedagogy


Maya Mahgoub-Desai is an Associate Professor and the current Chair of Environmental Design at OCAD University. Maya Mahgoub-Desai is an Associate Professor and the current Chair of Environmental Design at OCAD University. Maya is both a researcher and practitioner whose approaches to Architecture, Urban Design and design education are informed by her research interests in public health and health design; cultural narratives and socio-ecological models of urban development; and addressing issues of equity through inclusive studio teaching pedagogies. Maya’s current research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC / CRSH) and investigates themes related to human-environment behaviour; public health and public space design and policy; and inclusive approaches to community collaboration in urban planning.

As the Senior Urban Designer and Planner for the award-winning firm, Moriyama Teshima Architects, Maya has led many local and international urban and peri-urban campus, community and municipal plans which aim to provide resilient and equitable solutions and a collaborative community engagement approach. Maya’s professional experience includes serving as a subject matter expert for Waterfront Toronto; developing master plans for Qatar’s Education City, Surrey City Development Corporation and the Town of Whitby and campus plans for the University of Lethbridge, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.

Maya also remains actively engaged in professional and volunteer activities that focus on health, equity and racialized communities: serving as an executive member of BEAT (Building Equality in Architecture Toronto); a committee member of ClimateACT and previously as a crisis counsellor for the Toronto Women’s Rape and Crisis Centre.


  • 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