Architecture

Architecture students at California College of the Arts are challenged to be creative and visionary. Across four academic programs and four 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.

A student's face is reflected on a wall of mirrored objects.

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 and leading-edge digital fabrication to fresh urban form-making, novel representational methods, and 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 prototype 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 continually 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 exhibited globally at renowned architecture biennials, universities, and galleries. A thought-leading 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.

A groups sits in a circle listening to a lecture.

Robust public programming

Our national and international networks are amplified by our lecture series and symposia. Open to the public, 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.

Explore Architecture

@cca_arch_div
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Sept. 24, 2021

“Andrew Kudless (@matsysdesign) and Adam Marcus (@radadam) Want You to Draw: An Interview About Drawing Codes Volume II.”

📓Check out the latest SCAFFOLD story on our Drawing Codes Vol. II exhibition at our link in bio.🔗

"Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation, Volume II," is the second part of the two-part exhibition curated by CCA Associate Professor Adam Marcus and former CCA Professor Andrew Kudless (now at the University of Houston). The show brings together another 24 drawings from and architects of varying backgrounds to explore the ideas and forms activated by constraints and limitations. It is on view at the CCA Hubbell Street Gallery (@ccaexhibitions) until October 8th. The Architecture Division will host Erik Herrmann and Ashley Bigham of the architectural practice Outpost Office for a remote lecture and workshop.

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccainteriordesign #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #ccascaffold

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Sept. 22, 2021

Ashley Rodriguez (BArch 2022) and RJ Hafiz' (MArch 2022) "REEF" from last spring's "Sanctuary" advanced architecture studio, taught by Jason Kelly Johnson (@futureformslab).

"REEF" is the Restorative Earth Ecologies Farm in year 2120. Through the use of a network of biopods, Ashley and RJ tell a narrative about how two protagonists successfully restore underwater ecologies and marine life affected by climate change in the (not-so) distant future.

The "Sanctuary" studio explores speculative futures for the western section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Similar to the recently replaced eastern section, the western bridge will soon become obsolete. Instead of tearing it down, the studio will explore the reuse of the bridge’s superstructure as a social, cultural and ecological catalyst for the region. This studio radically rethinks how the Bay Bridge could be re-utilized in the future. Could the bridge become more than an elevated highway? Could it be a sanctuary or refuge for people, plants or animals? Could it become a public space, a place that bridges communities, inspires awe, ritual or meaning?

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccainteriordesign #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade

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Sept. 21, 2021

We're back with another segment of #studenttakeovertuesdays @cca_arch_div! Meet second year MArch student Maryam Liaghatjoo! 👋 🛩

1. Hi all! My name is Maryam Liaghatjoo. I'm originally from Iran. I got my bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Tehran. Currently, I'm in the last year of my MArch program at CCA. Throughout this academic journey I found my passion in parametric, adaptive, and responsive design in which I can control all the environmental, social, and aesthetic aspects of the building/space. I'm also passionate about integrating media and architecture interactively to enhance the user experience.

2. I'm thrilled that I got an internship position in San Francisco Public Works (@sfpublicworks) for the summer, which I'm continuing part-time during Fall and Spring semesters.

3. My SFPW internship started in-person for one week, but later I shifted to remote work at my home-office. My home-office was also my studio/workspace during the 2019-2020 semesters.

4 - 6. This is the "Synthetic Archipelago" that Leo Miranda (@leon_4) and I worked on from last spring’s “Sanctuary,” an advanced architecture studio.

7. We started this semester in-person! This is my physical wood model of Sun-Pu church structure as a precedent study for my integrated studio course.

8. "Re-Interact" is my pavilion design from “Synthetic Forms,” an architecture elective course from my first semester at CCA.

9. Recently, I visited San Diego for the first time. Only for one day. I fell in love with it.🌴

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccainteriordesign #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade

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Sept. 20, 2021

✨Join us this Wednesday, September 22nd, at 5pm Pacific Time for a conversation with Javier Senosiain (@javiersenosiaina), featuring music by Howard Wiley (@howard.wiley).

Javier Senosiain is a Mexican architect best known for his explorations of the interrelationship between natural and built environments. He graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1972 and is now professor in its architecture department. Senosiain is the founder of the Arquitectura Orgánica (Organic Architecture) firm in Mexico City and author of the books Bio-Architecture and Organic Architecture.

Howard Wiley is “the most prodigious Bay Area saxophonist of his generation” (Berkeleyside).

This event is co-presented by [email protected] and the Fall 2021 Architecture Lecture Series. It is funded by an endowment gift to support The Deborah and Kenneth Novack Creative Citizens Series at CCA, an annual series of public programs focused on creative activism. @ccaexhibitions

📌Register to attend at our link in bio!

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccainteriordesign #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool  #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade

Undergraduate

Reimagine our cities and environments

BArch Studio students pose for a photo in front of a cardboard structure.

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 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

An architecture student presents to a group of faculty.

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, History Theory Experiments, or Urban Works.

Labs & Research

Engage with urgent issues

A student points to an architectural rendering.

Instigate change

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.

A student works on a model in the 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.

Looking down at an architectural model, hands are placing small items onto the model.

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.

A student looks over a display at the Architectural Ecologies Lab.

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.

A student teaches people about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Black Lives Matter Teach-In: On Race, Architecture, and the City

History Theory Experiments

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.

An architectural student looks closely at a machine drawing on paper.

Advanced 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:

  • Mechanized Natures – Explore architectural attitudes toward machines and nature through drawing projects that engage processes of automation and ecological thinking.
  • Urban Imaginaries – Reflect on "the urban imaginary" by examining how cities are defined through material forces, social acts, political directives, and market exchanges, as well as historically informed ideas about what defines "the city."
Rendering of Pollinator Power Hub by Roxana Yaquelin Breceda and Javier Breceda from the "Buoyant Ecologies: Urban Ecotones at Islais Creek integrated studio, 2020.

Pollintor Power Hub by Roxana and Javier Breceda from the "Bouyant Ecologies: Urban Ecotones at Islais Creek integrated studio, 2020.

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 problem-solve for challenging environments and increasingly dense cities.

Buoyant Ecologies

In contrast to anthropocentric technologies of “resilience” motivated primarily by self-preservation, this evolving advanced studio series explores alternative strategies for human adaptation to ecological change that both depend on and support the health and diversity of nonhuman terrestrial and marine species.

Common Ground: Re-Making the Ground Floor

This advanced urban studio explores the role of social infrastructure in building a more just, inclusive, and thriving city. Students reimagine the ground floor of the city as a shared infrastructure in the service of the public good by imagining new configurations of our collective urban ground.

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:

  • 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.

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 four research labs.

interior of CCA main building on San Francisco campus

CCA Admissions

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[email protected]

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