Interim Director of Architecture David Gissen is serving in this role for the 2013-14 academic year.

I remember the day the president of CCA, Stephen Beal, called me in 2007 to tell me that I had been offered a position. I danced in my office in celebration -- something I do rarely (and poorly)!

Inspired by CCA

Moving to San Francisco -- the 21st century’s epicenter of American cultural and technological experimentation -- and teaching architecture at CCA (where some of my academic heroes taught) promised to be an exciting adventure.

We teach here because we believe we can create an architectural and design pedagogy unlike anything at any other school.

Strong Faculty Supports Experimentation

We draw in some of the most talented instructors in the world. Visitors to CCA always remark on the incredible strength of the Architecture faculty and their experimental, but rigorous, approach to education.

When walking through the Nave inside the main Montgomery Building on the San Francisco campus, you witness this exciting and alternative approach to educating future architects and interior designers.

On one wall students build a giant inflatable building structure laced with digital sensors that rises to fill the space. On the opposite wall a group of students make enormous models of skyscrapers -- rethinking the future of these buildings.

In an architecture history course students spend time in the classroom creating a mural-size map of the 19th century transformations of Paris. In technology courses they create conceptual models of a contemporary building’s materials

Facilities for Makers & Thinkers

Upstairs one can marvel at the ever-expanding digital devices our students use to visualize and create buildings and interiors. What’s more -- our students are actually making these innovative tools and creating machines that print buildings (robotic printers anyone?).

But in addition to the things and techniques you see on a quick stroll through the building, you can also walk by classrooms and hear discussions, lectures and debates among our faculty and students.

They’re discussing architecture and design, drawing on their own diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Graduates Have Unique Positioning

And like the general culture of the Bay Area, CCA is a place where students are encouraged to develop their own point of view.

Our students graduate with expertise, the technical skills required to compete in the marketplace, and a desire to make architecture and interior designs that matter.

And we instill in our students a strong sense of intellectual independence.

Ultimately, we want the future of architecture and design to be based on their ideas, and their experiences and experiments.

For me, that’s what CCA is about -- and the promise of teaching and studying here.