The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) offers six graduate-level Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Design (MDes) degrees.
All students are encouraged to apply for project-based design studios such as Industry Partnerships and the collaborative GFRY studio sponsored by Motorola. Recent industry projects include collaborations with CB2, Samsung, Industreal, Danese Milano, Tacoma Museum of Glass, Rossana Orlandi (Salone Internazionale del Mobile), Brand.It, Haworth, and Dupont Corian. The GFRY studio has produced wide-reaching demonstration projects such as 2000 Watt Living, 18% Grey, Com(m)a, RE:, Watershed, and Next Generation Public School Cafeteria Design with partners in the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. At the culmination of their studies, students may participate in the annual SAIC MFA Show or the Graduate Design Exhibition.
Master of Architecture
The Master of Architecture (MArch) program cultivates a new type of architect—one who is grounded in practice, but who also incorporates perspectives from other creative disciplines and draws upon collaborations with artists and designers to become a truly innovative explorer of architecture. It begins with a foundation of required skills and grounding in the histories and theories specific to architecture. Its thematic cluster of courses is integrated around a common intellectual theme, while each component class approaches the theme from a particular vantage point that reinforces the development of comprehensive understanding.
Collaborative studios in the second year offer a chance to develop the interdisciplinary approach demanded by many of today's problems. The third year culminates in work with artists in the wider SAIC community, with teams of artists and designers placing work in the public realm.
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Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture
SAIC's Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture experiments with definitions of space and social ideas through digital explorations, drawn and modeled work, and work built at a range of scales. Students who choose to pursue the MArch with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture work with space, light, and behavior, entirely reimagining the way we live.
The SAIC Interior Architecture program is unique in positioning the designer with the artist, allowing for development of disciplinary strengths while demanding interdisciplinary research, thinking and practice, and material explorations. The AIADO department offers graduate tutorials, studios, seminars, and labs that address current cultural issues. Artists, designers, and architects share in critical seminars and work together. Art, architecture, and design history courses complement studio work, and students may elect fine art and design courses from across other departments at SAIC as well.
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Master of Fine Arts in Studio: Architecture
SAIC's MFA in Studio: Architecture program supports the development of advanced work in architecture and its related fields—work that calls upon a broad range of art and design disciplines to challenge how architecture is defined and practiced. The program is unique in positioning designers beside artists, an arrangement that allows students to pursue the development of disciplinary strengths while engaging design from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Teaching in the program is based on an advising model that allows students to work individually with professors on independent projects that demonstrate the relevance of architecture in areas of specialization ranging from emerging technologies to social practice to interior architecture. The program encourages both rigor and experimentation.
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Master of Design in Designed Objects
The Master of Design (MDes) in Designed Objects provides students with a critical ability to translate compelling ideas into meaningful objects and environments while challenging the boundaries of the field of design itself. It is a two-year, carefully sequenced, course-based curriculum for students who require immersion in the critical and technical skills specific to the practice of object design. Providing a creative and intellectual context in which the nature and potentiality of designed things can be closely examined, the MDes in Designed Objects is focused on the critical and experimental rethinking of the given norms of objects and products. The program encourages deep exploration into the relationship between objects, ideas, users, and contexts. Students are free to pursue commercial, responsible, critical, speculative, or experimental projects, products, and systems.
The AIADO department's distinguished faculty traverse the field with broad experience in the designing, making, and critically analyzing of designed objects. MDes students also draw on the knowledge and skills of faculty working in adjacent and complementary fields such as Architecture, Interior Architecture, Design for Emerging Technologies, Visual Communication Design, and Art and Technology Studies.
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Master of Fine Arts in Studio: Designed Objects
The MFA in Studio: Designed Objects program offers an uncommonly expansive educational model in which designers engage history, critical thinking, and work across disciplines.
This two-year graduate program offers an advanced degree for students with previous experience in 3D design, such as product, furniture, packaging, or exhibit design. The program’s tutorial structure allows students to work individually with advisors in pursuit of independent projects negotiating the design of products, services, and systems. The MFA in Studio: Designed Objects is a close examination and reinvention of the entire range of physical things we use to expedite, decorate, and mediate our lives. The program seeks to cultivate new relationships between the designer and the consumer, the citizen and society.
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Master of Fine Arts in Studio: Design for Emerging Technologies
The MFA in Studio: Design for Emerging Technologies program addresses how the rapid pace of technological change has transformed the conceptual boundaries between design disciplines. AIADO faculty, in long-standing collaboration with faculty in SAIC's Art and Technology Studies department, provide instruction in new design areas such as human-computer interface design, physical interaction design, information architecture, physical computing, software-based optimization and analysis, and design for embedded control and robotic activation.
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Interested in learning more?
Continue to explore the AIADO website to learn more about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, alumni, and more or visit the Master of Architecture, Master of Architecture with an Emphasis in Interior Architecture, Master of Design in Designed Objects, or Master of Fine Arts degree program pages for detailed information or schedule a tour.