OCAD University
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, Technology in Environmental Design, Cultural Landscapes and Human-Environment Relationships


Maya Mahgoub-Desai is a faculty member in the Faculty of Design and Graduate Studies at OCAD University since 2015, where she is an Associate Professor, current Chair of the Environmental Design program and the former Graduate Program Director for the Master of Design for Health.

Maya is both a researcher and practitioner whose approach to urban design is informed by her research interests in ecological approaches to urban and environmental design, environmental determinants of health and socio-cultural frameworks of the built and natural environment. 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 speculative research into how cultural perspectives on nature can inform technological approaches to environmental conservation. Her recent research projects focus on human-environment behaviour and urban health; inclusive approaches to community engagement; affordable housing typology; and addressing inclusion and diversity in design studio pedagogy.

As the Senior Urban Designer for the award-winning firm of Moriyama Teshima Architects, Maya leads campus and municipal master plans that negotiate peri-urban areas (in Canada and the Middle East) and prioritize cultural narrative, resilient solutions and a collaborative community engagement approach. Maya’s professional experience includes master plans for Qatar’s Education City and the Surrey City Development Corporation; campus plans for University of Lethbridge, Wilfrid Laurier and Conestoga; and most recently, a community master plan for the civic centre lands for the Town of Whitby.

Maya also remains actively engaged in professional activities that address equity in profession, such as serving on the Architectural Advisory Board for the North York Women’s Shelter new build and as an executive member of BEAT (Buildings Equality in Architecture Toronto).



  • 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