Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) Urban Works

MAAD Urban Works is a one-year (two semester) Master of Advanced Architectural Design post-professional degree program with a concentration in architecture and urbanism. Urban Works equips students with skills for leveraging architectural design and form to affect social justice, ecological vitality, and economic resilience. We advance novel strategies of research, design, and scholarship to model new forms of practice and engage with urban design challenges of the 21st century. The MAAD Digital Craft degree is STEM designated.


Design Agency and the City   

These days, it seems, we are all ‘urbanists.’ Designers—as well as policy-makers, industry leaders and activists—are forming new images of the city that can make sense of complex and often invisible conditions like climate change, globalization, neoliberalism, and migration. From sanctuary cities to micro-Utopias, and from public infrastructure to investment opportunities, urbanization today demands that designers find new ways to bridge among laws, markets, and publics. In this spirit, Urban Works is dedicated to shaping both the spaces and protocols of the built environment. Work in this program ranges from the scale of furniture to urban territories at large, and across models of practice that include private practice, municipal agencies, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Pedagogical Approach

Urban Works provides early- to mid-career professionals and students the opportunity to advance their knowledge base about architecture and urbanism, and shape new directions for engaged, professional practice. Individuals with backgrounds in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and other allied disciplines are welcome to apply. Students in the program will focus on research-driven and project-oriented design in advanced studios and urban elective seminars, and take part in workshops, symposia, and other events at the school. Our curriculum frames in-depth investigations associated with architecture’s disciplinary expertise (such as urban form, systems, program, organizational logic, territorial operations, aesthetic expression, and tools for visualization and public outreach) alongside broad, extra-disciplinary studies in urban geography, ecology, and digital technology. We also frequently work in partnership with urban agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry leaders. This exposure prepares students to join and form experimental design practices of their own that can provocatively shape urban issues. Each year, a specific theme is used to focused curriculum and collaborations that result in tangible formats of communication (book, exhibition, symposium, etc.). This production of a ‘work’ acts as a vehicle for students to launch their own career trajectories.   

San Francisco Bay Area and beyond

We engage students as active agents within the entrepreneurial and counter-cultural legacies of the Bay Area. As a hub and incubator of technological innovation, San Francisco provides an urban laboratory for on-site research. The region’s history of activism and entrepreneurship has produced fertile ground for discussions on contemporary city-making, alternative urban planning, and environmental innovation. In addition to our hands-on approach in the Bay Area, the Urban Works curriculum studies the implications of local findings to cities around the globe. Such an approach recognizes that networked infrastructures and territories have continually become more integrated across municipal and national boundaries. The redistribution and interdependence among populations, wealth, energy, matter, and ecologies has created unprecedented levels of complexity in urban conditions. We begin in our local geographic context to develop applicable strategies that can be applied globally.   


Students in MAAD Urban Works can tailor their course sequence to reflect their research priorities. Each student must complete 30 credits over two semesters (fall and spring), to include at least one Advanced Design Studio and three seminars per semester. Students may also select courses from across the Architecture Division and the College. To see work and course offerings taught by Urban Works-affiliated faculty, please visit



Each program cycle is framed as a think tank on a set of topical issues, which span across the advanced studios and seminars. Current investigations include:

  • Housing affordability and collective living

  • Politics of energy

  • Water management and resources

  • Pop-up urbanism

  • Climate risk

  • Public engagement and decision-making processes

Faculty and Affiliates

The program leverages and fuels advanced urban research in the Urban Works Agency. Depth to the topic at hand would be developed by a visiting critic paired with a core CCA faculty member


Associate Directors:

  • Antje Steinmuller, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Urban Works Agency Associate Director, studio URBIS.

  • Chris Roach, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Urban Works Agency, Associate Director, Studio VARA.

Affiliated faculty at CCA include Irene Cheng, Chris Falliers. Lisa Findley, David Gissen, Gregory Hurcomb, Brian Price, Katherine Rinne, Neal Schwartz, and Sandra Vivanco.

Partner institutions include SPUR, SF Planning, Embassy Network, Build Public, Youth American Project, South America Project, Openscope Studio, The Architecture Lobby, Harvard GSD, Yale School of Architecture, TU Dortmund, Soongsil University Seoul, and AIASF.

The Urban Works Advisory Board includes Allison Arieff, Neil Brenner, Julia Czerniak, Keller Easterling, Rahul Mehrotra, Erik Rodenbeck, and Mason White.

Facilities  & Resources

The Architecture Division is located in CCA’s San Francisco campus in the heart of the design district in a converted Greyhound bus depot that spans across a single city block. Here, architecture students enjoy dedicated studio space with access to state of the art workshops and computer labs for fabrication and digital production at multiple scales. Students also work side-by-side with colleagues from furniture design, fashion design, graduate fine arts, interaction design, and design MBA programs. Under this one roof, CCA offers access to Rapid Prototyping Studios with laser cutters, 3D printers, and a CNC router, as well as workshops specializing in wood, metal and mixed-material processes, as well as a plaster room and welding shop. Other facilities also include the Hybrid Lab maker space sponsored by Intel, the New Materials Resource Center, the Simpson and Meyer Libraries, and other resources available at the Oakland campus.


Events and the Urban Works Agency

MAAD students have the opportunity to engage in events, workshops, and ongoing research projects at CCA. Architecture Division Lecture Series brings a world-class group of guests to CCA to present their work and interact with our students and faculty. Students also have the opportunity to work with the Urban Works Agency, a research lab at CCA that works with interdisciplinary partners to produce original research and design projects. UWA work is disseminated through books, exhibitions, symposia, interactive media, and The Agent, a biannual publication.

Recent events and exhibitions include:

  • Domesticity After Belonging. Symposium co-organized by the After Belonging Agency (Curators of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016), with keynote speaker Andrés Jaque.

  • Rebuild by Design University. Symposium on climate resilience co-hosted with Rebuild by Design.

  • Panel discussion + launch of The Agent. with Chip Lord, Curtis Schreier, Blaine Merker and Simon Sadler at the Market Street Prototyping Festival.

  • The City and the City: Housing the Next 100,000. exhibition at SPUR in collaboration with Pier Vittorio Aureli and Emily Abruzzo / Yale University.

  • Investigations in Collective Form: A series of workshops run by Albert Pope, Peggy Deamer, and Rafi Segal

  • Inequality and Collective Form: Lecture and Discussion with Pier Vittorio Aureli and Reinhold Martin

  • more events >

Student Diversity

(Note: The following passage is from a faculty statement issued in the spring of 2017. For more, please see here.) The California College of the Arts is an art and design college deeply committed to diversity, inclusivity, and international exchange. Our students and faculty encompass individuals of many racial and ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations, and they hail from many nations. We treasure these differences because they enrich the intellectual, creative, and social life of the school, expand our curriculum and our understanding of the world, and enhance the equity and diversity of our professions. We commit to respect and to uphold the rights of all members of our community, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual identity, or national origin. We represent one of the most progressive regions of the United States, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland--both self-declared sanctuary cities in which municipal governments have pledged to protect undocumented immigrants from prosecution.

MAAD Application

Please find the MAAD application here. Individuals who have earned a professional degree in architecture or equivalent is eligible to apply.


For questions about the MAAD Application process or about the Architecture Division, email For questions about Urban Works, please contact Janette Kim or Neeraj Bhatia. Please also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up with upcoming events.


General Inquiries:

Leah Kandel
Program Manager
Master of Architecture
Master of Advanced Architectural Design

Postal Address
Graduate Architecture Programs
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247

Architecture Staff
See a complete staff list for the division of Architecture »