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 Interior Architecture

SAIC’s Interior Architecture and Architecture courses recognize that the study of human habitation and experience is a lifelong undertaking and critically essential to achieving a new balance in the way we live. Students interested in rethinking how we build, inhabit, and transform our environment explore ideas about materials and construction with sustainability as a goal.

Studio work reconfigures definitions of habitation integrated with complex biological, technological, and cultural systems. Students negotiate between the natural, the artificial, and systems of global development and develop an ethical imagination in working in the public sphere.


SAIC offers a Bachelor of Interior Architecture (BIA) degree. The four-year BIA is an academic qualification that provides a rounded competency and deep understanding of the field. The degree allows students to enter professional practice as interns or proceed toward graduate studies in architecture or a wide range of specialized design fields. As such, past students have entered practice, top graduate programs in architecture, the fields of installation and set design, lighting design, and more entrepreneurial design opportunities.

This curriculum sits alongside the undergraduate Architecture Pathway and the Designed Objects Pathway. The three curricular options are highly articulated, especially during the initial five semesters of study. The integrated curricula mimic the professional graduate programs in Architecture and Interior Architecture at SAIC and invite unique intersections between art and design.

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—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?

Learn more about undergraduate degree program requirements by visiting our BIA web page.

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 ugadmiss@saic.edu.