Maya Profile Pic
Maya Mahgoub-Desai
Associate Professor, Chair of Environmental Design
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Socio-ecological Approaches to Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, Public Health in the Built and Natural Environment, Addressing Equity in Design Education and Inclusive Teaching Pedagogies


Maya Mahgoub-Desai is an Associate Professor and the current Chair of Environmental Design at OCAD University. Maya is a researcher and practitioner whose current research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC / CRSH) and the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program and investigates themes related: to human-environment behaviour, public health and public realm design, addressing equity in design education (with a focus on disability) and inclusive teaching pedagogies.

Maya's previous speculative research focused on how cultural perspectives of nature can inform approaches to environmental conservation and was awarded the Architectural Research Consortium's King Medal for Excellence in Architectural and Environmental Research and shortlisted for the Canada Council for the Arts Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners.

As the Senior Urban Designer for Moriyama Teshima Architects, Maya has led several urban and peri-urban campus, community and municipal plans which focus on sustainable approaches, cultural resilience, and a collaborative community engagement process. Her portfolio 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 and equity; serving as an executive member of BEAT (Building Equality in Architecture Toronto); a committee member of the RAIC (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) Promoting Equity and Justice Advisory Committee; and formerly, a committee member of ClimateACT. Maya is also a frequent guest critic and lecturer in architecture and urban design studios at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, Concordia University, UC Irvine, Kent State University and l'Université de Montréal.


  • 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, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 2000
  • DEC (Honours Pure and Applied Science), Cegep Dawson, Montreal, Canada, 1997

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

Co-Chair, ODESI (Office of Diversity, Equity, Sustainability Initiatives) Faculty Equity Advisory Committee, OCAD University

Executive Member, BEAT (Building Equality Architecture Toronto)

Committee Member, RAIC Promoting Justice and Equity Advisory Committee