Past Featured Courses

Architecture & Interior Architecture Capstone Studio 2020

Senior students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Class of 2020, devise their own program and architectural design, in collaboration with local stakeholders, to respond to the needs for a sustainable mixed-use development at the neighborhood’s threshold on the West Side of Chicago at Harrison and Homan.

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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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Whatnot Studio

This is a structured collaboration between SAIC's Designed Objects program and local/international corporate entities, especially product manufacturers, material manufacturers, and retail enterprises. The two-semester long course engages select upper-level undergraduate and graduate students with the particular concerns and constraints of "real-world" projects. 

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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.

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Make/Move: Experiments in Urban Mobility

This two semester experimental research and making studio, takes Chicago as an exemplar and focuses on the future of urban mobility and what data-driven, technological systems it will require.

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Contemporary Issues in Design

Contemporary Issues in Design: The Geological Atlas of Built Chicago

In this course, we will employ traditional and digital techniques to map and model these material flows in the context of the Anthropocene. We will produce two and three-dimensional artifacts that reimagine the city as a geological formation, compiling these documents to produce the first Geological Atlas of Built Chicago.

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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! 

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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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Process(ing) Transformation

What happens to communities when schools close in their neighborhood? What could be the role of design in enabling civic participatory processes to collectively imagine new uses for these schools?

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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. 

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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 multidisciplinary summer studio.

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Furniture Design: Chair Studio

This semester-long intensive furniture studio will critically engage the chair as an archetype. Chairs have long been a fascination of designers as they require a developed understanding of structure, material, and form. Importantly, chairs represent the cultural mores of the time in which they are produced and are inextricably linked to larger systems of power, technology, and economy.

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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 course provides beginning design students with the technical and conceptual tools to express their ideas more effectively in 2D, 3D and 4D. This class concentrates on methods for clarifying and articulating ideas while also developing capacity to work fluidly between digital and analog methods. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Digital Crafting 2.0

Advanced versioning digital crafting is a guided studio exploration of complex modeling and machining processes used in conjunction with metalsmithing techniques. Students will develop a minimum of two projects involving choices from several technologies. 

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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 world-building 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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Light and Space

Lighting is a powerful tool for creating space. As a material in architectural design, light is an ephemeral medium that can be both shaped and manipulated. Light can impart a spirit of place to both buildings and installations.

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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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Critical Artifacts

An interdisciplinary elective for senior undergraduates or graduate students interested in exploring design concerns.  The Critical Artifacts seminar-studio allows for serious play, experimentation, and for the deliberate entanglement of theory and practice.

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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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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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The Future of Making

Using Rhinoceros and 3D scanning tools, art and design students will generate complex forms for fabrication with CNC milling technologies. Students will learn to make and edit complex tool paths using advanced milling strategies

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Contemporary Issues in Design: Objects and Spaces for Angels and Machines

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 tragedy are covered. 

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CNC Integrated Fabrication

Digital fabrication is becoming more prevalent across disciplines and methods in which we create. This course explores techniques in which CNC (Computer Numerical Control) can be integrated into our practice as thinkers, artists, designers, and makers.

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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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Ways of Futuring

Ways of Futuring

Futuring is understanding ways we can use our creative skills to debate and discuss what might happen next, whether that future is tomorrow or 50 years from now. As creative people, we all think about the future. How can we harness that to propose new ways to speculate on how things might be?

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