Past Featured Courses


ACTIVATE is a series of pop-ups that bring life to unexpected spaces in the Loop. These free events give the public a chance to interact with local art, music, and performance and take part in transforming environments. Students will collaborate with the Chicago Loop Alliance to re-imagine and create one of these pop-up events. 

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Extreme Furniture

Starting from tabula rasa, this hands-on studio questions conventions of furniture design and construction, exploring alternate materials, typologies, contexts, and production methods. Foregrounding spontaneous and ad-hoc making processes over fine craftsmanship, creative brainstorming, and sketching flow directly into making thus offering an exciting and dynamic series of experiential investigations.

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External Partnerships: Sight Unseen Presents

This two-semester long course (Winter and Spring) engages select mid-and upper-level undergraduate and graduate students with the particular concerns and constraints of ‘real-world’ projects. Working with design influencer Sight Unseen, students will design and execute work to be exhibited in Sight Unseen Presents, an event that pairs designers with retailers, galleries, and restaurants throughout NYC as part of NY Design Week.

Read more about Sight Unseen Presents here

Go Fund Yourself!

Go Fund Yourself! is a two-semester multidisciplinary studio course that immerses you in business practices related to your creative future. Over the year-long course, you will develop your own ideas into crowdfunding campaigns in direct partnership with advisors from Kickstarter. You will earn your own money in this class! 

Read more about Go Fund Yourself! here

Pedways: Chicago Underground

Inviting students to explore the unique forms of study that occur below the surface, Pedways: Chicago Underground posits alternative narratives for the Pedway and the city through research, engagement, and art and design interventions on the space of the Pedway itself.

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Designer Artist Citizen Site: Exploring Belonging

Designer Artist Citizen Site: Exploring Belonging will create an independent exhibition that responds to, expands, and challenges the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, “Dimensions of Citizenship,” commissioned by SAIC and UChicago. 

Read more about Exploring Belonging here

Realizing Chambord

The Domaine National de Chambord, and the office of Dominique Perrault Architect who will curate the exhibit, is inviting twenty architecture schools, worldwide, to propose a speculative vision for the monument, utilizing the concept of Utopia, which was essential at the time of its development.  The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is responding to this invitation and proposes a 3 credit elective multidisiplinary summer studio.

Read more about Realizing Chambord here

Visionary Drawing

Visionary Drawing combines research and studio practice in the exploration of drawings and images that are uniquely compelling and have the power to advance visionary proposals in the realms of art, architecture, film, and spatial invention. 

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Eco Design Riverworks: Cultural and Environmental Mapping

The class researches ecological urbanism, sustainable acoustic ecology, and public engagement with local water issues in riverwalk and soundscape settings. Readings and case studies in architecture, eco sensing, and data recording reinforce field trips.

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Design Storytelling

This studio introduces various techniques that will allow the articulation of ideas to be foregrounded. A comprehensive reading list of literature and film texts will be read and screened throughout the class alongside studio practice. Students will progress from research methods, 2D sketching and mapping, to exploring the use of physical models and time-based media; such as film and animation.

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Interface Design Seminar

Through presentations, discussions, and exercises, this studio-seminar will introduce methods to understand the functions of things, their relationship with users, and how to develop and create an interface that not only improves the usability, but can be seamlessly integrated with and enhance the design and experience of an object.

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Design Action: Homan Square

This multidisciplinary studio builds upon previous analysis of housing developments in North Lawndale, including some in historic districts, and newly proposed strategies for the production of affordable housing in underserved neighborhoods, to collaborate with community organizations, schools, and businesses on a supportive housing program.

Read more about Design Action: Homan Square here

Contemporary Issues in Design: Smart Intersections: Connecting Communities Through Interventions

Students in "Reimagining Smart Interactions with Communities" will work through their practices to create interventions at street intersections around Chicago.

Read more about Smart Intersections here

Eco Design RiverWorks: Water is Essential for Life

Riverworks Chicago is an interactive transient sound mapping and community engagement series of classes that reimagines and visualizes the sustainable world above and beneath the surface of the Chicago River.

Read more about Water is Essential for Life here

North Lawndale: Housing, Otherwise

This course is for students in art and design interested in understanding the process in which affordable housing is delivered in the US and in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, in particular. This course will analyze several housing developments in North Lawndale and propose new strategies for the production of affordable housing in under-served neighborhoods, taking advantage of local resources and collaboration with community organizations, schools, and businesses.

Read more about Housing, Otherwise here

Minifacture: Designer-driven Production and Distribution

Minifacture is a course designed for students who are interested in exploring the possibilities of a career as an independent designer who produces and distributes their own work. Recent developments including digital fabrication and online platforms have enabled independent designers to viably enter the marketplace with their own product offerings. 

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Post-Geographic City Workshop

This is an interdisciplinary studio about 'the future of the city,' in which we will use multimedia techniques to imagine new kinds of urban experience that arise from the collision of culture and emerging automation, computation and media technologies. 

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Contemporary Issues in Design: Safety in Numbers

Working with community participants from the Homan Square / North Lawndale area of Chicago, the course developed tools of inquiry and instructional modules for exploring space and place. 

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Ceramics and Architecture

The uses of many materials is expanding through exploration of both design and fabrication through digital technology which allows us to visualize, analyze and fabricate forms that were previously out of reach.

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Contemporary Issues in Design: Future Documentary

Investigating and making media from alternative futures, this is a class about the worldbuilding required to imagine and immerse ourselves and others in possible universes.

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Narrative Proximities: Art, Design, Politics of Maps

This studio explored mapping and diagramming as interdependent techniques. With an emphasis on representing spatial relationships as products of political, economic, or cultural constraints and interests, and vice-versa, the visual representation of locales and their associated narratives was taught as an act of intentional abstraction. 

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Prototyping for Furniture

This hands-on course creates a scaffold for decision making in the furniture design process. Through exercises that build physical knowledge and capabilities in the studio, students develop the confidence to utilize hand and power tools to iterate through tangible protoypes. 

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Architecture/Interior Architecture Graduate Studio 2: Thick Skins

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Loop Post Office in Chicago provides an exemplary building for the study of skins in architecture. The building skin becomes a surface opened to investigations through the various strategies of material, perception, temporal and programmatic thickenings.

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Interior Architecture Graduate Studio 4: Autonomous Intelligent Transportation System

Today, creating a readily multipliable form of brand identity ranks high on the list of the client’s goals and their desire for effective messaging. Contemporary issues of urban sprawl, environmental concerns, speed of communication and effectiveness of high-performance work ground the subject of the semester’s design studio.  

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Topics in Design Research

The studio/seminar advocates for the emergence and the mobility of research in design.  Our goal is not to merely amass results, but rather, with the aid of results to demonstrate how design research can adapt itself to new procedures

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Seems Real, On the Surface

Students enrolled in the seminar will work between digital and physical models and will be familiarized with various rendering softwares, 3D scanning technologies, and VR systems. We will use these tools to develop projects and interventions that address issues of surface, image, perception, and materiality and that highlight the seams of our constructed reality.

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Design Action: North Lawndale

This interdisciplinary course will address and highlight North Lawndale's current inititiatives and celebratory events. It will build upon the analysis of previous SAIC actions in North Lawndale, and propose, collaboratively with community organizations, a method for sustained development and trust.

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Eco Design Riverworks: Taking the Waters

What do we know about water and what do we need to know about water? How is it relative to our practice as artists? How can we visualize water politics to engage the public? 

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Design for Nonhuman Kinds: Toys for Elephants

Design for Nonhuman Kinds is a course series that asks students to think “outside the human,” by decentering human perception and subjectivity in favor of animal thinking. This semester will challenge students to design and build cognitive tools that enrich the lives of elephants in captivity.

Read more about Toys for Elephants here

Architecture on Display

Curating architecture inhabits a double bind: curating implies the care, collection, and display of objects; architecture is not object-centric and instead defines itself as a stance towards the activity of building. 

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Contemporary Issues in Design

This is an experimental, transdisciplinary class. Students will develop objects and spaces while working with 2D and 3D materials, digital and physical. The formats will range from props, scripts, costumes, and video, amongst others.

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Advanced CNC Milling

Using Rhinoceros and 3D scanning students will generate complex forms for fabrication on both the 3 axis CNC in the Sullivan Fabrication Shop (SFS) and an offsite 7 axis robot mill.

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Guns: Myth and Manufacture

A seminar to complement the Art Institute of Chicago's Arms and Armor collection. Firearm design and patents, military and civilian usage, shooting and hunting clubs, movies and mythology, gun stores, and urban tradedy are covered. 

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Theory of Architecture and Everything

Each week the class goes to at least one lecture or exhibit, which gives us the chance to actively take part in Chicago’s design arts discourse. Most VAP lectures are attended, as they occur during class time. Before each lecture we read about the person and ideas, at the event we listen, and after the event we critique and write.

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