CCA's Master of Architecture Program is a professional degree program that emphasizes innovation and experimentation in architectural design. Through a focus on advanced digital technologies and material systems, design research and urban agency, CCA strives to develop the next generation of designers who will shape our future built environments. CCA offers classes and design studios led by world class faculty with active design and research practices. Widely published and exhibited, our faculty supports an open-minded attitude to design and strives to instill in our students a desire to evolve, adapt and respond to the ever-changing architectural landscape. We believe architects are makers of culture and makers of the future — leading and responding to social, economic, and ecological change.
San Francisco is CCA’s urban design laboratory. We tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area and foster collaborative relationships with a number of local practices and organizations that are actively shaping the future. Innovation is at the heart of the Bay Area and CCA’s Master of Architecture Program thrives in this landscape. Our national and international network is amplified by our lecture series which features architects and theorists from both around the world and the Bay Area who come to CCA to present their work and directly engage studios and seminars.
Designed for students who have earned a bachelor's degree in another field, the NAAB-accredited program is a three-year professional master's degree in architecture. The program is also available to students who have begun their architectural studies at the undergraduate level. Advanced standing may be granted to those who have some previous education in the field. Placement is based on a review of portfolio and undergraduate transcripts.
In addition to the NAAB accredited MArch program, CCA also offers a post-professional Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) program with three specializations: Digital Design Technologies; Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology; and Design Theory and Critical Practices.
The heart of architectural education is the design studio, where students learn to synthesize a wide range of ideas, issues, and technologies required for the conceptualization of architecture. It is also the place where aspects of architectural practice are tested out and where history, theory, and technology are integrated into design.
The first three semesters introduce the culture of architecture and the nature of the discipline through rigorous studios that are open to graduate students only. The following two semesters, students choose from a series of elective studios that focus on a broad selection of topics and design methodologies, ranging from speculative to comprehensive building strategies. The final studio semester is spent developing a design thesis that questions the limits of our discipline and asks students to take risk, experiment and be bold with their architectural speculations. Our students present their thesis work to a design jury of established professionals, theoreticians and designers. A public exhibition showcases the graduating class’ work to both the CCA community and the city of San Francisco.
The MArch Curriculum has 4 areas of concentration that are addressed by our studios and seminars: Design Media, History & Theory, Building Technology and Urban Landscape.
- Design Media courses develop primary skills necessary for the visualization and representation of an architectural project and give students tools to work with a range of advanced digital design and fabrication technologies. Electives within the sequence experiment with parametric design methodologies, robotic architecture, building information modeling and advanced digital fabrication techniques.
- History & Theory courses ground studio practice in the world of ideas through an in-depth study of the history of architecture placing architecture in the broader context of culture, politics, technology, and philosophy. Electives within the sequence tackle contemporary issues of nature, utopia and global modernism.
- Building Technology courses build knowledge and skills related to technology and practice issues. Courses in sustainable building systems, building energy, structures, materials, and methods of construction form the heart of this sequence. Electives within the sequence include courses in green building practices, advanced building construction and advanced material systems.
- Urban Landscape courses explore the relationship of our built environment to the ecologies and cultural landscapes of our cities. Courses in landscape theory, landscape analysis and ecology address core principals in urban and landscape design. Electives within the sequence explore pop-up urbanism, resource driven urbanism and extreme sites such as demilitarized zones and post-industrial landscapes.
For a more detailed curriculum chart please visit our curriculum page.
Resources & Travel Programs
The program offers a number of special focus summer workshops and studios, including travel studios.
Summer travel studios explore a number of territories, with a special focus and expertise on Latin America, Asia and Central Europe. These seminars and studios are offered by faculty members deeply familiar with the countries they bring students to. The last 2 years have seen students head to Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Beijing, Germany and Greece.
The program also offers the 333 Summer Studio. Based in San Francisco, this studio is three weeks long, with each week taught by a different internationally recognized architect. Instructors for 333 have included Jenny Sabin, Mason White and Lola Sheppard of Lateral Office, Thomas Wiscombe, Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün of rvtr, Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott of IwamotoScott Architecture.
In August, just before fall classes begin, we offer both incoming and continuing students a number of special focus workshops, covering model making, two-dimensional and three-dimensional digital modeling, as well as advanced digital skills and digital fabrication.
The facilities on the San Francisco campus include dedicated architecture studios with access to a suite of fully equipped shops for various scales of fabrication and multiple computer labs for digital production. Our facilities include dedicated wood, metal and mixed material workshops, as well as a plaster room and welding shop. Students have full access to the Rapid Prototyping Studio with laser cutters, 3-D printers and a CNC router. Our computer labs are frequently updated with the latest hardware and software and the Hybrid Lab provides an interdisciplinary space for making and hacking technologies. The New Materials Resource Center offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection of traditional and innovative material samples and is the only library of its kind housed at an art school.
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