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 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.
Jan. 22, 2021
"Light Pavillion," a nested, transportable exhibition pavilion, by Venessa Davidenko from the fall 2020 Digital Craft Advanced Studio "Embedded Intellignece," taught by Al Borhani(@alirezborhani) and Negar Kalantar (@negarkalantar), co-director of CCA Architecture's Digital Craft Lab (@cca.digital.craft.lab).
Embedded Intelligence, an advanced Digital Craft studio, considers the intelligence embedded in tools and materials through the development of design systems that link the intrinsic capabilities embedded in tools with the inherent properties of materials in a series of projects that explore nested fabrication methods.
#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccarchitecture #cca_arch_div #architecture #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #digitalcraftlab #ccadigitalcraftlab #embeddedintelligence #nexttoparchitects #architecturestudents #architecturestudent #architecturedrawing #remakingarchitecture #koozarch #nestedfabrication
Jan. 19, 2021
Ireny Abrahim (BArch 2021) and Navya Sharad's (BArch 2021) final project from this fall's integrated architecture studio, The Post-Carbon Museum, taught by Ryan Keerns (@ryan.keerns) and Daniel Alexis (@_danielalexis_).
Through the design of a museum for experiential art at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, the Post Carbon Museum studio considered architecture’s capacity to cultivate new postures, organizations, and tectonics for a post carbon energy era. All projects in the studio explored the potential of mass timber construction.
#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccarchitecture #architecture #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudents #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #masstimbler #crosslaminatedtimber #nexttoparchitects #architecturedrawing #architecturerendering #koozarch #superarchitects #postcarbonarchitecture #woodarchitecture #renderedmodel #FortMason
Jan. 15, 2021
Swipe to see this very long section (for the upcoming long weekend) from Bachelor of Architecture student Asa Maas from “SNAFU,”a fall 2020 advanced architecture studio taught by Clark Thenhaus (@clarkthenhaus).
SNAFU (Situation Normal All F'ed Up) considers alternative forms of ""preservation"" that amplify heterogeneity and the 'F'd up normal' as springboards for dovetailing familiar building types with social, cultural, formal, and material expressions.
#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccarchitecture #cca_arch_div #architecture #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #nexttoparchitects #architecturestudents #architecturestudent #architecturedrawing #architecturerendering #SNAFU #preservation #section @mastersection
Jan. 14, 2021
"Crane Cove Park” by Maryam Liaghatjoo(MArch 2022) from the fall 2020 MArch Core Studio 3 taught by Nataly Gattegno and Chris Falliers.
MArch Core Studio 3 pursues a semester-long research trajectory that emphasizes the relationship of rigorous analysis to speculative design. The specific program of an urban community center and food hub allows students to explore complex architectural concepts and strategies in relation to the complexities and challenges of contemporary urban life. The studio pursues a thematic study of how "typological thinking" it can establish architectural relationships between diverse urban artifacts and widely-varied historical, conceptual, and physical contexts.
#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccarchitecture #cca_arch_div #architecture #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #nexttoparchitects #architecturestudents #architecturestudent #architecturedrawing #architecturerendering #koozarch #machinearchitecture #movingarchitecture #waterfront
Students inspired to take action
Faculty profiles and initiatives
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, History Theory Experiments, or Urban Works.
We believe architecture can imagine and create alternative futures, and we translate this belief into direct action. Our four 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.
History Theory Experiments
The History Theory Experiments 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.