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
Instagram post 17962865083756401

July 1, 2022

CCA’s @architecturalecologieslab team, including: Geada Alagha (MArch 2022), David Rico-Gomez (BArch 2022), and Chak Ying Wong (BArch 2022) presented their project, “Re-commission Project for Nike Wildlife,” at the 2022 Biodesign Challenge Summit (@biodesigned)! Over 54 teams from 18 countries presented their projects that bridge design and biology. Congratulations, team!🙌🏼✨

🔗Learn more about the team's project at our link in bio!

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #chimeramade #biodesign #chakyingwong #geadaalagha

Instagram post 17908119725601569

June 30, 2022

Highlights of work by Aditya Kosman (BARCH 2023), from last spring’s advanced studio “NEW NOONAN - Art at the Margins” taught by faculty members Ryan Golenberg and Craig Scott.

“The NEW NOONAN studio offers students the opportunity to design a new kind of space for art and public life. The aim of the project is to provoke and cultivate in-depth design inquiry into questions regarding the relationship between architecture and art, and environment and culture…The studio focused attention on questioning the ways in which public art is traditionally incorporated into the built environment and look to foster paradigm shifts from the typical private developer and commissioned artist standard to a dialogue about new platforms for public forum, participation, activism, plurality, and inclusivity.”

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

Instagram post 18041069287356363

June 29, 2022

Chromatic Compositions + Color Projections. Final work by Soojee Choi (BFA Interior Design 2024) from this past spring’s Materiality & Space 2 taught by Bryan Sloan (sloaninteriors).

Images 1-4
“Based on Color projection project image 5, I used tinted or translucent acrylic rectangular planes to explore the spatial dimensions of color planes in a way that invites multiple and simultaneous readings of space.”

Images 5-7
“In this project, I explored the capacity of projected light and color to define space. Inspired by James Turrell’s conception of light as a material, I materialized a space through the simple means of light projection.”

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #architecturestudent #architecturestudentblog #chimeramade #tapplastics

Instagram post 17953855261814687

June 28, 2022

"METAMORPHOSIS" by Claire Leffler (BArch 2023) and Venessa Davidenko (BArch 2022) from last spring's integrated architecture studio, "Buoyant Ecologies," taught by faculty members Margaret Ikeda and Evan Jones. Congratulations to Claire and Venessa for winning the Advanced Architecture Studio: Comprehensive Development Award at this year's divisional award ceremony!

"Providing a space for restoration and food production that gives back to its community through a new ecologically inclusive environment will help recreate the landscape of Islais Creek. Historically, the original shoreline existed more inland and was a place of varying marshlands and ecology. As it became artificially infilled by the city’s activities, the surrounding landscape and neighborhoods have been neglected. These past events will eventually be faced with future environmental conditions of sea level rise which will flood the neighborhood. Our project is formally inspired by the pattern and movement of water currents as they play a strong factor in shaping the past, present and future site conditions. Emphasizing a geometry that imitates the currents in the water provides both aesthetic continuity and a functionality similar to that of a living system. Flows of people, water, food and social interactions can be enhanced through an adaptable design that gives back to its community over time."

#ccarts #californiacollegeofthearts #ccaarchitecture #architecture #interiordesign #studio #sanfrancisco #artschool #architectureschool #ccainteriordesign #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

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

[email protected]

Get more details about your program of interest

Request information