The Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is a place where students can explore design activities and ideas which regularly cross the boundaries between design and nondesign disciplines.

The unique structure of design pathways at SAIC enables students to combine their interests in the fine and/or media arts—painting, performance, sculpture, film, video, and new media—with their primary studies in design, which follow three pathways: interior architecture, architecture, and designed objects.

Design studios form the core of the undergraduate curriculum. These studios are supported by labs, critical seminars, and research courses focused on current cultural and social conditions. A unique combination of courses in design, technology, materiality, theory, history, and visualization expand students' awareness, understanding, and ability to design for human needs and desires. “Midday Musings” noontime lectures by faculty, students, and Chicago architects and designers, along with visiting guest lectures and professional partnership opportunities, offer stimulating insight and discussion into current practices.

Bachelor of Fine Arts—Architecture Pathway

The Bachelor of Fine Arts—Architecture Pathway allows students to develop an understanding of conditions within the urban environment that calls for a more holistic, systemic, and redirective approach toward the role that architecture can and should play in society. The knowledge threads that inform the core design studios integrate an ethical concern with the promise of technological inventiveness and an understanding of design history and theory with spatial explorations that look toward the future without ignoring Chicago’s great architectural heritage.

The four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is not a terminal professional degree, but provides students with an excellent opportunity to enter the top graduate programs in architecture.

Bachelor of Fine Arts—Interior Architecture Pathway

Interior Architecture isn't just the design of the inside. Focusing on experimental practices in space, students in the Interior Architecture pathway work across boundaries between the body, objects, events, and environments, developing a broad understanding of interiority. Interior Architecture courses focus on material and light, action and interaction, technology and environment, equipping students with a wide range of visual skills and challenging them to discover new relationships between space and culture.

Bachelor of Fine Arts—Designed Objects Pathway

The Designed Objects Pathway focuses on the critical and creative rethinking of the systems, tools, furnishings, and products that we use or interact with in our everyday lives. Investigations into how objects extend human potential and inspire imagination are balanced with studies in the responsible and imaginative use of new technologies, materials, and production processes. A concern for sustainability provides an opportunity to explore alternative visions of how we live, work, communicate, and play.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts—Designed Objects Pathway embraces elements from product design, systems design, furniture design, speculative design, and interaction design. The program envisions designers as agentive, social citizens, and maintains an expansive understanding of the object. The curriculum immerses students in the most critical approaches to contemporary object design—experience design, co-design, and on-demand manufacturing—while grounding them in the material world, with a focus on designing and making.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or