Design better futures
We believe that architecture and interior design are critical cultural practices that can and should serve the common good. Architecture at CCA is an arena for the free and open exchange of ideas about the future—of our buildings, cities, and planet—and a laboratory where these ideas are tested through speculative architectural research. Our students challenge conventional ideas at every turn in an innovative culture of making that weds discipline-specific skills and knowledge to emerging technical and conceptual methods.
With each passing semester, you’ll increasingly see yourself as a designer actively engaged in the most important issues of the day, becoming ever more confident as your knowledge base grows, your skills sharpen, and your ability to identify, develop, and communicate your ideas matures. Guided by a faculty with practice-based expertise—ranging from experimental history to pioneering digital fabrication to fresh urban form-making to novel representational methods to down and dirty design-build—you’ll transform theory into action as you produce new disciplinary knowledge and discover career opportunities that value design speculation and versatile leadership.
The city is your urban laboratory
Central to your experience at CCA is our San Francisco location: a place where the leading edge of digital culture meets an enduring legacy of social and environmental action. Here, new ideas about how we inhabit this planet are continuously being tested. You’ll study in a world-class, top art and design college that values interdisciplinary exchange and open dialogue.
Meet the dean of Architecture
Dean Keith Krumwiede is an award-winning educator and the author of Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction, a satirical assessment of the American Dream. Named “Book of the Year” by critics Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, Atlas of Another America reflects Krumwiede’s multifaceted and humorous approach to the culture of architecture and its often-complicit relationship to power and privilege. His work has been been exhibited globally at renowned architecture biennials, universities, and galleries. A pioneering researcher, Krumwiede’s scholarly articles have appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Praxis, Domus, and elsewhere. Prior to joining CCA in fall 2018, he was an Arnold W. Brunner/Katherine Edwards Gordon Rome Prize Fellow in Architecture.
High-profile architecture and design educators
Our award-winning faculty drive the success of our discipline. As teachers, researchers, practitioners, and public intellectuals, we’re active in shaping important conversations around architecture and interior design. Our faculty believe that architecture and interior design are critical cultural practices that reflect values, impact lives, shape urban spaces, harness technological innovation for positive change, and envision other futures for an environmentally challenged world.
Robust public programming
Our national and international networks are amplified by our lecture series and symposia. Open to all disciplines, our keynote lectures feature architects, designers, and theorists from the Bay Area and around the world. Recent guests include Wang Shu, Jeanne Gang, Eyal Weizman, Amanda Williams, Tatiana Bilbao, and Neyran Turan.
We also host numerous symposia each semester, inviting faculty and scholars from other architecture schools to join us in wrestling with controversial, provocative, and future-focused topics. Often directly tied to projects our students, faculty, and external partners advance in our architecture research labs, symposia are opportunities to learn from scientists, engineers, and other practitioners whose work intersects many different disciplines. Recent symposia topics include Reckoning: Monuments and Racial History, Domestic Affairs: Housing the Multitude, and Designing Material Innovation.
June 1, 2020
Please join us in celebration of the @cca_arch_div graduating class of 2020! Around this time of the year, we’d be watching you all walk across the stage at Commencement. Near or far, our faculty wanted to prepare a special message. 🎓✨ To learn more about our @cca_arch_div graduating class of 2020, follow the link in our bio!
#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #classof2020 #masterofarchitecture #barch2020 #bfainteriordesign #commencement
May 29, 2020
“Co-Living the Dream” by BArch student @sayer_squared from his Spring 2020 Independent Study led by Chair of the BArch program and instructor, @antjesteinmuller. — “The project examines various ways people struggled and strived to live together. From communes to cults, essentially human questions regarding freedom, family, and industry helped shape visions of ideal communities. These communities’ alternative ways of life serve as a reflection and critique of their contemporaries and context. Lavish greenery, clean air, joy in labor, and free love are among the values many of these utopias share sometimes inspiring a determined enlightened few to put theory to practice. But not all is rosy in the usually arid fields they occupy, nor is all work joyous, and when faced with the difficulty of life off the grid, many communities falter and dissipate leaving only specks of a social dream dared dreamt. This is a story about those dreamers and the tensions that arise from the manifestation of their Edenic visions tainted by forceful change, questionable determination, and ulterior motives.” #ccarts #ccarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #finalreviews #finals #studio #virtualcrit #remotecrit #critique #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #finals #finalreviews #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #design #interiors #classof2020 #barch2020 #curatorspick #bayarea #interiorarchitecture #chimeramade #coliving #livingthedream #communalliving #community #californiacollegeofthearts
May 28, 2020
“Glass Top Community” by MArch student @javier_breceda. This project won him the MArch 2nd Year Design Studio Award! Congratulations, Javier!👏 "’Glass Top Community’ focuses on the precarious aspects of the life of the tech worker from the physical, psychological, and economic. As the tech worker deals with a cycle of anxiety, stress, comfort eating, and time management they are also simultaneously exploring the benefits of communal living as a way to accommodate comfort eating through programmatic functions and architecture. Promoting healthier habits through the implementation of light and nature, by increasing courtyard spaces and natural light on both sides of the units, allowing dual direct access to exterior courtyards and pedestrian streets...’Glass Top Community’ creates a village type Housing project in which residents encounter an alternative way of dealing...bringing the communal spaces and private kitchens into a process in which a person may acknowledge their unhealthy eating habits and be motivated into moving to healthier habits." —
#ccarts #ccarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #finalreviews #finals #studio #virtualcrit #remotecrit #critique #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #finals #finalreviews #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #design #interiors #classof2020 #MArch2020 #masterofarchitecture #curatorspick #bayarea #interiorarchitecture #chimeramade #architecturalmodel #modelmaking #communalhousing #communalspaces
May 27, 2020
A closer look at “CIRRUS” by Interior Design student @jamie.nguyen. Jamie’s project has been awarded Curator’s Pick at our CCA Graduating Class of 2020 Showcase. Congratulations, Jamie!⚡️ “‘CIRRUS’: made of wool, felt, metal, and silk organza. This acoustical screen absorbs sound while allowing light to pass through the exposed perforations and translucent organza elements. The size and the openings are catered to the kind of experience desired...Smaller openings allow for privacy while larger openings encourage greater human interaction.” —
To learn more about @cca_arch_div’s Curator’s Picks, follow the link in our bio.
#ccarts #ccarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #finalreviews #finals #studio #virtualcrit #remotecrit #critique #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #finals #finalreviews #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #design #interiors #classof2020 #bfa2020 #bfainteriordesign #curatorspick #bayarea #interiorarchitecture #chimeramade #californiacollegeofthearts #partitionwall #humaninteraction #partition
Students inspired to take action
Faculty profiles and initiatives
Architecture Professor Neal Schwartz's firm wins the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design
Professor Sandra Vivanco receives a Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant
Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab faculty win a 2020 ACSA Faculty Design Award
Professor David Gissen's story highlights the rarely considered physical challenges of being an architect
Architect Magazine features associate professor of Architecture Neeraj Bhatia and his firm The Open Workshop
Professor of Architecture Craig Scott wins a 2019 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award
Create innovative work across disciplines
The five-year Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) program is NAAB-accredited and STEM-designated. With a focus on critical thinking and creative making, students learn how to be agents of change, leveraging their skills toward environmental, social, and political impact. Design studios emphasize conceptual rigor, engaged research, and material and formal experimentation, setting students up for success across a range of project scales.
Our second undergraduate degree, the BFA in Interior Design, is a four-year accredited program with a focus on sustainable material practices and spatial innovation. Students learn to design for various human environments, including the home, workplace, and public sphere. Internships with prominent Bay Area architecture and interior design firms give students a first-hand look at the daily processes they’ll encounter throughout their careers.
Connect architectural innovation with social impact
Our Master of Architecture (MArch) program champions innovation and experimentation in architectural design, preparing students to lead conversations and develop solutions around some of the world’s most pressing issues. NAAB-accredited and STEM-designated, the MArch program guides students through three years of advanced study, leveraging design, research, and material innovation to merge conceptual, historical, and physical contexts.
Our second STEM-designated program, the Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD), is for early-to-mid-career professionals interested in collaborative and experimental design practices. Over the course of one intensive year, students focus on an independent research or design project through mentored study and a range of elective offerings in one of three areas associated with our research labs: Digital Craft, Experimental History, or Urban Works.
We believe architecture can imagine and create alternative futures, and we translate this belief into direct action. Our five research labs, which are formulated around faculty interests and expertise, present students with myriad project opportunities, such as developing solutions to regional issues brought on by climate change for the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge.
From gritty experiments with alternative materials to groundbreaking thinking about urban issues, these projects are often conceived and realized in collaboration with external partners. Recent collaborators include Autodesk, the City of San Francisco, Kreysler & Associates, and the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge.
Digital Craft Lab
The Digital Craft Lab features experimental making through emerging technologies. Advanced computation, robotics, responsive environments, and rapid prototyping are motivations to reconsider how architecture is produced.
Urban Works Agency
The Urban Works Agency responds to the politics of the contemporary city. Equity, ecological vitality, and economic resilience are reimagined through urban and territory scaled analysis, narratives, and arguments.
Architectural Ecologies Lab
The Architectural Ecologies Lab serves as a platform for collaborative research between designers, scientists, and manufacturers. This interdisciplinary setting provides the tools to address ecological challenges like sea level rise, habitat restoration, and climate change.
The BuildLab is a setting to participate in the hands-on development of full-scale structures, bringing fabrication, project management, and realization skills directly into the hands of designers.
Experimental History Project
The Experimental History Project works to preserve and present the immaterial aspects of architectural heritage through the reconstruction of environments, immersive augmented reality, and cutting-edge conservation techniques.
Student and faculty excellence
Vertical electives are courses that integrate graduate and undergraduate architecture students as they learn the process of taking conceptual ideation to practical implementation; the objective of vertical electives is to deepen students’ understanding of and ability to create what’s possible when theory, practice, and experimentation converge. While electives vary from year to year, we’re particularly excited about these two:
- Mixed Reality – Leverage mixed reality technologies, such as gaming engines for experience design, to create architectural effects and immersive environments
- Design and Build for the City – Combine full-scale fabrication and community participation to deploy everything from mobile classrooms to prototyping festivals to parklets and shaded pavilions
Advanced and integrated studios
Our advanced studios, which undergraduates can take during their final two years, are either embedded within our research labs or framed around collaborations with external partners. Studios, like the ones featured below, focus on how architectural design can solve for challenging environments and increasingly dense cities.
Creative Architecture Machines
This evolving advanced studio series operates at the intersection of digital fabrication, interactive robotics, and custom software. Students create original fabrication robots that draw, print, scrape, ooze, and dig architecture. Projects challenge students to blur the lines between the digital and physical and expand what architecture is capable of achieving.
Interior Design and Ceramics
Interdisciplinary by nature, this advanced studio investigates historic terracotta traditions alongside contemporary fabrication techniques for building surfaces (or “architectural skins”). Students engage both the aesthetic and functional aspects of ceramics to explore the importance of empty space in exterior and interior environments.
We encourage every undergraduate and graduate student to study abroad at least once. You’ll broaden your cultural influences, explore new environments, and meet other creative practitioners. Our most recent travel studios focused on the following themes:
- China | Picking Up Threads: Stitchlink 2020 – Explore the burgeoning southeastern region of China studying the work of several contemporary Chinese architects
- Mexico | Material Cultures in Mexico City + Oaxaca – The studio weaves together cultural research, material exploration, and design innovation to explore resonance between traditional craft practices and contemporary techniques of architectural design and production.
333 Studio at CCA
In addition to study-abroad opportunities, we host the 333 Studio at CCA’s San Francisco campus every summer. Three outside critics, including those with civil engineering and urban planning backgrounds, work with students for three weeks in an intensive lab environment.
We’re here to answer your questions
We’re happy to share more information about our alumni, faculty, and the ambitious projects we’re pursuing in our five research labs.