Graduate Courses


333: Architecture Summer Studio

3 critics for 3 projects in 3 weeks

Instructors: Mauricio Soto + Sean Ahlquist + 1 visiting architect TBA
SF / 15 sessions / ARCHT–444 / MARCH–604
Prerequisite: permission of graduate department chair
July 28-August 15, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

333 is an intensive architecture design studio that brings leaders in the field to work with students in a laboratory–like environment at CCA. 333 emphasizes exploration and innovation with cutting–edge methods, materials and technology. 333 capitalizes on the rich geographical, social and cultural features of the San Francisco Bay Area as resources and catalysts for experiments in architecture and urban design. CCA’s digital fabrication labs and shops will be available for the duration of the course.

Mauricio Soto is an assistant professor of architecture at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he teaches comprehensive building design studios, building technologies and seminars related with lightweight and membrane structures. He is also a founding partner of the Studio for Lightweight Design, a multidisciplinary firm that specializes in the design, manufacturing and installation of lightweight, membrane and deployable structures. Soto’s research focuses in the intersection between architecture, structural engineering and environmental design. He considers issues regarding tectonics, structures, materials, manufacturing and installation methods not as problems that need to be solved, but as creative elements that should re-enforce the conceptual basis of any architectural proposal.

Sean Ahlquist is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning developing research on the topic of Material Computation and co-directing the Master of Science in Material Systems program. He is a part of the Cluster in Computational Media and Interactive Systems which connects Architecture with the fields of Material Science, Computer Science, Art & Design and Music. Currently, Ahlquist is completing his Doctorate (Dr.Ing) at the University of Stuttgart Institute for Computational Design (expected 2014). Ahlquist's research agenda is directed at formulating computational design frameworks, which place materiality as an a priori agent in the organization of architectural systems and their spatial tectonics. In particular, the research explores technologies in the design and fabrication of variegated textile and fibrous material assemblages.

This course satisfies 3 units of Advanced Studio, a Studio Elective, or a BT Elective for BArch students; for MArch students, this course satisfies an architecture Elective or BT Elective.

The following summer study abroad courses also satisfy Architecture Studio Requirements:

Seeing Rome


Social Ventures

Instructor: Steve Diller
SF / DSMBA–638 / 5 sessions
Prerequisite: current enrollment in CCA's DMBA program
San Francisco campus and off-campus
June 5–August 2

This course offers graduate students an immersive introduction into social issues and ventures in the United States and, potentially, abroad. Students explore a series of issues to gain an understanding of the field of social ventures: the stakeholders, business models, and realities of starting a social venture. In addition, students document and craft their experiences into marketing plans that can be used by local organizations.

Through a combination of classes, consulting with the instructor, and community immersion, students investigate key concepts in social entrepreneurship: cultural sensitivities, economic structures, business models, and social issues. The class exposes students to the social venture landscape, allowing them to understand and influence the factors that contribute to systemic social impact through the use of marketing and design thinking.

This course satisfies an MBA in Design Strategy Elective.

Section 1: Pre-class activities:
May 7–June 5: Readings
Section 2: First residency, June 5-8
June 5: In-class instruction, foundations
June 6: In-class instruction, research, collaboration with partners, plans
June 7: In field (location TBD)
June 8: In-class work: process information from field, create project plans
Section 3: Production, June 9–Aug 1
June 9–11: Field research (research findings due July 11)
July 12–19: Meetings with local partners to evaluate findings, set direction
July 20–August 1: Write venture plans (plans due August 1)
Section 4: Final Residency
August 2: In-class brainstorming, information dissemination, and finalizing deliverables

For costs associated with fieldwork, each student is provided with up to $350 by the college, provided that the student provides original receipts for legitimate project-related expenses by August 15, 2014. Participants are responsible for any travel costs over $350 associated with the course or any expenses for which an original receipt cannot be provided.

Fine Arts Seminar or Social Practice

Marfa Fieldwork Project

Instructor: Lindsey White, Shaun O’Dell
Prerequisite: graduate standing and instructor approval. In addition all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2013–14 academic year
May 26-June 16, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

More detailed information is available at Earlier registration and payment/refund deadlines apply.

This course satisfies a Fine Arts Seminar or Social Practice requirement or Grad-wide Elective.

Studio Research Lab

Ground Up: Theory in Action

Instructor: Brian Conley
SF / FINAR-604 / 10 sessions
Prerequisite: graduate standing
July 11-August 13, Wed. & Fri., 3-6 p.m.

This research seminar focuses on the student’s work, but instead of looking at the final product and determining whether it is successful, students start at the other end -- what might be called “the beginning” -- the ground from which the artist’s project has sprung.

The class, both students and instructor, investigate operating principles, purposes, experiences, and goals, which generate the student’s work. What that ground is, in each case, remains to be seen, and anything is possible. The conversation might delve into seminal experiences, the nature of the art work, its capacities, certain political and social commitments, religious or spiritual ideas, sexual and gender identifications, sensual importance, sexual engagements with an abstract audience, philosophical constructs, cultural differences, and so forth.

Because new beginnings, reformulations, and radical self-consumption are the very stuff of interesting art, students will be asked to propose and make the next step, however large or small, in the presence of a set of live, interested viewers. Some minimal reading assignments are given, which can be used to help think under and around the foundational material. These readings won’t be directly discussed in class, but students are asked to find ways of bringing them into their presentations when appropriate.

This course satisfies a Studio Research Lab or Grad-wide Elective.

Visual and Critical Studies


Instructor: Rebekah Edwards
SF / VISCR–608 / 15 sessions
Prerequisite: graduate standing
June 2–July 2, Mon. & Wed., 2-5 p.m. (+ 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays only)
July 28-30, Mon./Tues./ Wed., 2-5 p.m. (+ 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays only)

All writing is a process of translation – translating the chaos of images, feelings, and curiosity about objects, spaces, movements, and people into cogent, provocative meaning. While language and thought are indistinguishable, writing condenses and clarifies multiple contradictory ideas into a tangible, single-minded whole. As writers we take on this single-minded role, calling it “voice.” In this course, students explore many different ways of translating the world into words through a variety of situational, low-stakes writing exercises that focus on our complex relationship with authorial voice. Students practice all stages of the writing process, from brainstorming to revising and deep editing, all with the intention of harnessing the power of voice for the myriad rhetorical situations in which the professional visual and cultural critic find themselves. This course provides students the opportunity to develop tools and techniques for critical writing.

The summer session of Voices focuses specifically on clarifying and articulating a larger thesis project:

  • What is a sustained research project and where do I get one?
  • How do I translate a glimmer of an idea, a continuing obsession, a semester project or a seminar paper into a thesis project?

The class also explores different forms related to project/thesis development such as: the artist statement, abstract, exhibition proposal, and prospectus.

Meeting intensively in June, to prepare for a supervised research/writing practicum that will take place in the month of July, the class will also meet the week of July 28-Aug 2nd to workshop the work produced during the praxis period. Individualized workshops will be scheduled with students on Wednesdays, 6-7 p.m.

This course satisfies the Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies Voices requirement or a Grad-wide Elective for non-Visual and Critical Studies majors.


Instructor: Robert Marks
SF / VISCR–602 / 15 sessions
Prerequisite: graduate standing
July 15-August 12, Tues. & Thurs., 2-6 p.m.

This course examines discourses surrounding vision, perception, and representation with the aim of developing a critical understanding of these complexities. Vision and perception are complex fields shaped by demands to convey information, desires to induce feelings of pleasure or repulsion, schemes to enhance consumption, and motivations to maintain or challenge hierarchies of power.

The past 150 years have witnessed a revolutionary transformation in visual perception. Following the development of linear perspective during the Early Modern era, the invention of the photographic camera has led to a series of new technologies that have transformed our understandings of subjectivity, power, and politics. The class accounts for the historical trajectory within which these discourses and practices have arisen through the examination of developments such as one-point perspective, the camera obscura, photographic and cinematographic cameras, the physiological and psychological science of optics, theories of the unconscious, and digital imaging. In reading the works of historians, theorists, and critics who have studied such topics as the gaze, the spectacle, and surveillance, we will also consider how we might conceptualize the visual to account for its multiple and seemingly contradictory modes of interpellating and policing subjects.

Students sharpen their research, verbal and written skills through weekly readings, discussions, and response papers, and the development of a research-based paper on a topic of their choice related to visual perception.

The class examines a broad range of subjects within visual culture with an emphasis on photography, film, and new media, but also including scientific accounts of the physiology of visual perception, social and political interrogations of surveillance, psychoanalytic accounts of the gaze, and literary representations of vision. In discussions, students also consider the ways in which understandings of race, gender, and sexuality condition and shape the power to look, that which is perceived, and the theories that attempt to capture the complex relationships between vision, representation, and perception.

This class includes a weekend field trip, date to be determined.

This course satisfies the Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies Perceptions requirement or a Grad-wide Elective for non-Visual and Critical Studies majors.

Rob Marks writes about the nature of the aesthetic experience, the effect of the aesthetic experience on self and society, and the ways in which constructions of “truth” find expression in aesthetic experiences. His thesis, “The Sublime and the Beautiful in Richard Serra’s The Matter of Time,” explores Serra’s eight-sculpture Guggenheim Bilbao installation in terms of Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory and Judith Butler’s theories of selfhood.

In September 2012, Marks won the inaugural Hannah Arendt Prize in Critical Theory and Creative Research for an essay called “The Site of Imaginative Contention.” Between September and December, he applied the thinking of John Cage and others to the conundrum of museum commentary and structures in a four-essay series for DailyServing (reprinted in late December as part of the Best of 2012 series). He is developing essays on the unexplored surfaces of Serra’s steel sculptures, site-specificity in Serra’s work, selfhood and the aesthetic experience, and representations of homelessness. As Publications and Training Manager at the UCSF Alliance Health Project, he oversees the development of books, newsletters, and trainings on HIV and LGBTQ counseling and mental health.

In addition to a VCS MA, Marks has an MA in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. He practices life drawing and picture-taking and has collaborated on book arts projects with his partner, Saul Rosenfield.

Contact Information: robmarks[at]sonic[dot]net

Recent Happenings:
12.12.2013 / Rob Marks on Serra’s The Matter of Time in Forthcoming Anthology
12.12.2013 / Rob Marks to Present at 2014 CAA Conference in Chicago
Rob Marks Reflects on “The Clock” in Daily Serving
Rob Marks, on Abstract Art in Daily Serving
Rob Marks on DeFeo’s Exhibition in DailyServing
#museumpractices, A 4-Part Series by Rob Marks in DailyServing
Rob Marks Awarded Inaugural Hannah Arendt Prize in Critical Theory and Creative Research
Rob Marks Contributes to Daily Serving
Matter and Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler by Rob Marks in Art Practical
Rob Marks on the Work of John Cage in Art Practical


Mentored Study in Writing

Instructor: Hugh Behm–Steinberg
SF / WRITE–660
Prerequisite: graduate standing
June 2-August 1, individual meeting times to be scheduled with students

Mentored study provides one–on–one study over the summer with a faculty mentor. It gives students the freedom to pursue their own intellectual work seriously and intensively, while the faculty mentor engages and guides them through in–depth discussion and detailed critical commentary. In consultation with the mentor, a student also incorporates relevant reading into the course. This reading provides the basis for reflective or critical writing by the student that becomes part of the overall dialogue.

Appropriate for students at all levels, from those just starting out to those who are interested in pursuing more advanced projects, and it has been proven particularly useful to those working on thesis projects. Frequent, regular meetings are based on writing the student produces.

This course satisfies a Grad-wide Elective.