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 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.

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 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 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 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.

Explore Architecture

@cca_arch_div
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June 17, 2021

🏳️‍🌈Celebrate Pride Month! Angelic Williams' (BArch 2011) app, MyUmbrella (@myumbrellahq), creates a safe space for our LGBTQ people of color. It was inspired by "The Green Book," which helped African Americans travel safely in Jim Crow America.

"Each of us has a story to tell - it’s just a matter of finding the right platform. Are you wanting a new way to connect with LGBTQ+ community members from around the world? Join the MyUmbrella Writers Cohort! MyUmbrella is an LGBTQ+ safe-space, a little corner of the internet for community members to share their stories, experiences, and connect. We accept anyone who wishes to participate in our Writers Cohort, no writing experience needed! Just fill out the intake form and follow the instructions in the following email to get your work published on our website.”

📕Read more about Angelic and many other stories that shed a light on queer and POC voices at myumbrella.co/blog.

#pride #blm #blacklivesmatter

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June 16, 2021

The Walled City. Celdin Fajardo's (MArch 2021) final thesis works from this spring's MArch Thesis Studio, led by Nataly Gattegno, Thom Faulders and Neal Schwartz.

"During my thesis research, I was interested in studying Intramuros: The Walled City. People generally know of Intramuros through any of these three things: its walls, the tourist destinations within the city, and the inescapable poverty that contrasts the elegant Spanish colonial era architecture. The first project is focusing on inhabiting the wall as a community space for the city of Intramuros. This design is re-thinking what post-covid will look like in the near future. Instead of separating, the wall brings the community together to create new life by activating spaces inside of the wall as a community shared platform. The second project is using a methodological approach of subtraction. Using the wall as a foundation to define a settled condition and the use of subtraction to create spaces of unsettlement. Subtracting arches in different scales from the old wall that create an inhabitable space of public and private. The third project is to explore and create a monumental space inside Intramuros. Along the colonial houses lie communities of informal settlers, sometimes their houses piling up one on top of the other. What if there is a way of connecting those communities of informal settlers, by inserting a monumental structure that will be unique in its form to bring new life into the city of Intramuros."

Explore his work at scholarships.cca.edu/artist/celdin-fajardo/.

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #thebestnewarchitects #thebna #remakingatcca

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June 15, 2021

Pop-UP at our second exhibition at Space 37 of the San Francisco Ferry Building. “Urban Works: Working on the Urban” showcases recent projects from CCA's @urbanworksagency and explores how architects can reshape social justice, ecological vitality, and economic resilience in cities today. On view now thru June 29th. Our next pop-up will run thru July 10th.

Exploring local histories and futures, social justice and territorialization, and ecology and climate change, this series of exhibitions asks viewers to reconsider their relationship with architecture in a rapidly changing world. Each exhibition challenges long-held architectural norms by presenting work through three large-scale multimedia projections, visible from the storefront windows on the south and southeast sides of the building. Displayed inside one of San Francisco’s most iconic buildings, the multifaceted exhibition series grounds itself in ideas of making, un-making, and re-making. Together, the three exhibitions ask viewers and makers alike to reflect on how past architectures move the many concepts of “us” into the future.

📍Learn more about the Architecture Division Pop-Up Exhibitions at the link in bio.

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #thebestnewarchitects #thebna #remakingatcca

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June 14, 2021

Our very own (!!) Keith Krumwiede, Dean of Architecture at CCA, was interviewed for the third episode of the podcast "When Socrates Was An Architect."

"When Socrates Was An Architect" is produced monthly by Francisco Moura Veiga, a Portuguese architect teaching at the ETH in Zurich. The Q&A show is based on a fictional premise in which Socrates was interning at Eupalino’s architecture office in Lisbon, in 450 BC. Not clear about his role, he started questioning everything. Thus was born the Socratic method. With each episode, Francisco asks a question, provided by students of architecture, to three guests. In this episode three guests, Carla Juaçaba, Valle Medina and Keith Krumwiede, respond to the question "What type of Professor are you?"

Listen to the session at our link in bio!

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #Chimeramade #bayarea #thebestnewarchitects #thebna #remakingatcca #socrates

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

Students gather around a table setting up architectural models.

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

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 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

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.

Architecture students work on a 15 foot tall pvc pipe structure.

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:

  • 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:

  • 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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