Designing Material Innovation (drone view), 2017


Architecture students at California College of the Arts are challenged to be creative and visionary. Across four academic programs and five research and teaching labs, they design with aesthetic, social, and environmental issues in mind, producing work that links image to identity, form to performance, and order to equity.


Embrace innovative thinking and making

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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.

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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.

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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.


Fundamentally collaborative


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.

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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.

Explore Architecture

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Jan. 15, 2019

Digital Craft Lab exhibition “Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation, Volume II” will be opening on January 22, 2019 at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union in New York City @thecooperunion @schoolofarchitecture. On Tuesday January 29 at 6pm, curators Adam Marcus @radadam and Andrew Kudless @matsysdesign will join Nader Tehrani @nadertehrani47, Michael Young @young_ayata, Sean Anderson @seanify22 of @themuseumofmodernart, and several contributors to the show for a Gallery Roundtable followed by a reception.
For more details please visit
#cca #ccaarchitecture #architecture #exhibition #drawing #nyc #design

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Jan. 7, 2019

Soft Resonance
1/2” scale model of tether wall conduit
Project by Jen Tai @bicoastaljet and Carlos Serrano @carlosedserrano for @architecturalecologieslab studio Buoyant Ecologies in the Maldives. Taught by: Margaret Ikeda, Evan Jones.
“Soft Resonance, a floating housing proposal for Dhangethi, is undergirded by a malleable system of resource tethers that act as shared infrastructure. These allow the transport waste water, clean water, rain water, electricity, and methane gas, and allow for their decentralized distribution. Pneumatic walls that house flexible conduits with direct access to stub-outs allow users to access resources as needed. The tethers also allow for a range of proximities to one’s neighbors, which can be changed based on social preferences, storm conditions.”
#cca #ccaarchitecture #maldives #model #architecture #studio #design

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Jan. 5, 2019

Architecture advanced studio “Odd Facades”
By student Daniela M. Granillo @dmaureeng
Taught by Clark Thenhaus @clarkthenhaus
“A teenager living in San Francisco during the Summer of Love goes out to explore the city, and fills herself with the magnitud of love and drugs that surrounds her. While on her LSD experience, she realizes that the idea that “All the world’s a stage” becomes a reality. Everyone is acting, playing characters like it’s a play, and she starts to dissociate her self and finally takes off her mask, her true self out in the world. There are multiple masques embedded in Victorian houses. This has been done throughout the years with events such as the Summer of Love during the 1960s and the cultural fascination with drugs, sexuality and social transformation. The technique of creating masks within the Victorian houses produces an effect of revealing the interior and uniqueness of each room. From sex rooms, to LSD trips... This home hides it’s darkest secrets in its core.”
#ccaarchitecture #studio #architecture #facade #sanfrancisco #victorian #odd #model #design #drawing #story

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Jan. 3, 2019

Affect/Effect abstract model by student Caine Knuckles @caines_portfolio for BArch Design Media 1 taught by: @kenkeez & @ax.scho
Students were asked to create a chunk that best describes a particular form of geometry, in tandem with a graphic system that was evocative of spatial depth. The two were then fused together through orthographic projection mapping, and expanded upon through extrusions and boolean operations. In some instances, the drawing produced an effect over the model. In other instances, the extrusions affected the chunk.
#cca #ccaarchitecture #architecture #model #drawing #abstraction #shape #studymodel #studio #design

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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.


Reimagine our cities and environments


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.

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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.


Architecture matters

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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.

Labs + Research

Engage with urgent issues

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CCA BuildLab at the Salesforce Conference

Instigate change

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.


Experiments in Collective Living, Fall 2018

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.

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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.

HTX Digital Conservation Imaging and Sensing Workshops

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.

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Vertical electives

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
CCA faculty holding a seabird with the ceramic nest made in collaboration with CCA Ceramics and Oikonos

CCA Ceramics and Oikonos partner to create ceramic nest modules that provide durable and sustainable nesting habitats for threatened seabirds.

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.

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Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain.

Travel studios

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:

  • Project Tokyo: Experiments in Living – Explore and analyze a range of internationally recognized projects by prize-winning design firms and emerging architectural practices
  • Spain: The Silk Road Studio – Follow paths of the historic trade route across Spain and visit major buildings and sites, from the sacred mosques of Córdoba to Gaudi’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona

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.

Get more details about your program of interest

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