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.

 

Creating opportunities for excellence

We are stewarding our discipline toward a more sustainable and inclusive future for everyone. With the generous support of the Gensler family and the award-winning Gensler firm, and in honor of the late former board chair, we’ve established the M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design Excellence, a dedicated academic and professional initiative that advocates for diversity and social justice within the field, supports forward-looking design research and practices, and connects students with leading professionals in the field. Through scholarships, mentorships, and tailored curricular engagements, you’ll connect with industry leaders, discover-cutting edge faculty research, and find inspiring opportunities to construct your career in shaping the future of the built environment.

The M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design Excellence was created through the generosity of the Gensler Family and the Gensler firm to celebrate the life and legacy of visionary architect, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Art Gensler.


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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May 22, 2024

Congratulations to Miti Mehta (MArch 2025) for receiving the Advanced Studio Conceptual Audacity Award for her project “Jamming with Cork” from last fall’s Advanced Architecture Studio “Material Streaming,” taught by professors Arthur Harsuvanakit (@harsuvanakit) and Gil Sunshine (@gil_sunshine).

“Material Streaming” explored an emerging material paradigm based not in extraction but rather in a reinterpretation of what is already existing, taking advantage of advances in 3D scanning and computation to manage the complexities of working with nonstandard materials. This new material paradigm demands a new tectonic sensibility based on the irregularity and three dimensionality of material gleaned from local waste streams in contrast to the homogeneity and flatness of the standardized material palette. Throughout the studio students explored techniques for working with nonstandard materials–developing strategies for quantifying and depicting material lifecycles, and harnessing computational design and digital fabrication techniques to address surface irregularity, unpredictable material streams, and inherited geometries–with the goal of extending the use and shifting the perception of these “waste” materials. The studio culminated in the design and fabrication of a chair that embodies the material narratives, modeling strategies and fabrication techniques developed over the course of the semester.

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

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May 21, 2024

Study architecture at CCA in San Francisco this summer!

"Speculative Images: Parafictional Preservation in the Age of AI,” taught by Morgane Copp (@morganecopp), will focus on image making as a tool to convey speculative scenarios in which the new and the old converge. Students will work with translations and mediations of multiple photographs, both real and AI-generated, stitching images together seamlessly or curating them to ‘not fit’. The course will foreground architects’ and designers’ agency as storytellers, as we tackle questions of realism and the ethics of para-fictional realism in the age of AI. The course will focus on existing buildings in San Francisco’s Design District where the typologies range from warehouses to vernacular buildings to low rise stucco structures. As we imagine the consequences of densifying in place, an alternate, mixed and juxtaposed architectural aesthetics will begin to emerge. The course thus interrogates what forms preservation may take. The format of the course will include walking tours, guest lectures and multiple explorations of various mediums.

This 3-credit course, which runs from July 8 - August 9 and meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-6:00 pm, is open to current undergraduate and graduate students at CCA, as well as students from other colleges and universities. Email [email protected] to begin the registration process.

Housing is available through CCA. To learn more please email [email protected].

Please contact [email protected] with any questions about the course.

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #architecturestudio #sanfrancisco #imadethat #summerschool #architectureschool

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May 6, 2024

👏👏And finally, a huge congratulations to Jesus Guillermo Macias Franco (@guillermo.arq), CCA Bachelor of Architecture class of 2024, who was selected for the 2024 Metropolis (@metropolismag) Future 100!!!

About this achievement, Guillermo reflects: “Conjuring the right words to talk about my 2024 Metropolis Future 100 recognition isn’t easy. Running around in my mind are memories from 14 years ago, when I first embarked on this journey back home in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico. I see myself camping in the studio for days at a time with my classmates and remember the first time I came to California to study. Being recognized as one of the top 100 graduating students in the country isn't just another academic achievement, it’s a reminder that the struggle I endured for 14 years was noticed by others and that although I felt alone for many of those years I never really was. It is proof that there has always been someone rooting for me.”

Guillermo was nominated by Antje Steinmuller, Chair of the BArch program, who says “It’s wonderful to see Guillermo recognized in the Future 100 this year. He has a distinct creative voice that recognizes and translates community needs in times of urban transformation and climate change into playful yet thoughtful spatial experiments. His work, which links an understanding of social tensions and economic challenges with unexpected programmatic imagination, reflects a curious mindset, a mature analytical ability, and confident formal exploration.”

Images:
1. Jesus Guillermo Macias Franco
2-3. Food Cultures, 2022, BArch Core Studio Four, Instructor: Janette Kim.
4. Indian Valley Trading Post, 2022, Advanced Studio, with Bennett Grisley, Instructor: J. Kim.
5-7. ReWeaving: The Warp & Weft of the Community, 2023, Integrated Studio, with Bennett Grisley, Instructors: Mark Donohue & Lisa Findley.
8. Farmhouse, 2021, Studio 2, Instructor: Clark Thenhaus.
9. No Room for Walls, 2023, Advanced Studio, Instructor: Thom Faulders
10. Permeable Mission, 2022, Design Media Four, Instructor: Antje Steinmuller.

@cacollegeofarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #imadethat #architectureschool #metropolisfuture100

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May 3, 2024

👏👏Congratulations to Soojee Choi (@sooj__space), CCA BFA Interior Design class of 2024, who was selected for the 2024 Metropolis (@metropolismag) Future 100!!!

Each year, Metropolis selects the top 100 graduating architecture and interior design students in the United States and Canada through its Future100 program. Soojee is one of five CCA Architecture Division winners this year!!!

Here's what Soojee has to say about this achievement: “I am honored to be the winner of Metropolis Future 100. 3 years in this program, I have undergone personal and professional growth as a designer. Every moment at school was new, exciting, inspiring and challenging. This was possible with all faculty, staff and friends' support. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to my fellow winners from CCA!”

Soojee was nominated by Margaux Schindler, Chair of the Interior Design program and Cofounder and Director of SIZL Studio (@sizlstudio), who shares that “Soojee continuously challenges herself to develop complex design solutions, exploring the possibilities of a project at multiple scales. She has the dedication, motivation, and passion to be a leader within the community.”

Images:
1. Soojee Choi
2. Infinite Fold, 2022, Lighting Design Studio, Instructor: Margo Majewska.
3-4. Infinite Fold, 2022, Interior Design Studio 2, Instructor: Margaux Schindler.
5. Post-It Tessellation, 2021, Materiality and Space 1, Instructor: Negar Kalanter.
6. Interactive Modular Pavilion, 2022, Materiality and Space 3, Instructor: Margaux Schindler.
7-10. Converge, 2023, Interior Design Studio 3, Instructor: Negar Kalanter.

@cacollegeofarts #ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #ccainteriordesign #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #imadethat #architectureschool #Chimeramade #metropolisfuture100

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

+1 415-610-7004 (call, text)

[email protected]
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Graduate Admissions

+1 415-548-2271 (call, text)

[email protected]

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