Designing Material Innovation (drone view), 2017

Architecture

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.

Overview

Embrace innovative thinking and making

B'Arch students working together on a cardboard model

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.

Architecture students working on Buoyant Ecologies research materials

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.

Two students hold up a 3-d protoype of a hexagonal mesh against a window with the SF Bay Bridge in the background.

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.

Community

Fundamentally collaborative

Keith Krumwiede speaking to students during M'Arch critiques.

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.

Janette Kim smiling while giving critique to a student.

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.

Image of the MArch Disrupted, Alumni Panel, 2017

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.

Undergraduate

Reimagine our cities and environments

A student dances inside of a white cube covered in projections.

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.

Negar Kalantar laughs with a student in a rapid prototyping lab.

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.

Graduate

Architecture matters

Architecture student carves prototype for a structural model

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.

A crowd watches as a small robot walks on a screen displaying small green dots.

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

People posing in front of a large tree-shaped construction with many branches.

CCA BuildLab in front of their work at the 826 Valencia grand opening in Mission Bay.

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

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.jpg

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.jpg

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.

Bijangos School Pavilion for Architecture Build Lab

BuildLab

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.

Image of HTX Digital Conservation Imaging and Sensing Workshop

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.

Architecture students work on a 15 foot tall pvc pipe structure

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.

Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain where CCA Architecture students can attend a study abroad

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.

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