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As an integral part of a fine arts school, Architecture at RISD emphasizes process, artistic sensibilities and social and ethical responsibility. Students hone the ability to think and communicate through drawing, making, writing and discussing ideas with others as they define and articulate a personal approach to the discipline.

Degree programs

5–year undergraduate program
2- and 3–year graduate programs

Architecture majors inspire each other as they get direct experience building with materials and learning to understand the technical demands of architecture through a process of inquiry, reflection and invention.

Sophie Chien | junior


"At RISD we practice architecture at the intersection of art, design and humanity. Students constantly question what it means to create structures and push to find their conceptual and concrete limits. In my work I find myself both designing for the built world and exploring its relationship to the cultural, environmental and socioeconomic conditions that it will inhabit."

Amy Kulper | department head

"In Architecture you’ll discover that we value individual sensibilities, material reasoning, facility with symbiotic meaning/making and perhaps above all, imagination. As you develop a fluency with design and spatial cognition, you’ll find a new sense of authority and confidence in your own voice as a creative thinker and maker."

Architecture alumni make their mark as creative professionals in many different ways. Some launch their own practices designing and building residential and/or commercial projects, while others join larger established firms or smaller studios. In addition to practicing as architects, alumni have also gone on to stand out as sustainability specialists, author/illustrators, educators, health care designers and more.

Alumni at work

Deborah Berke BArch 77 | architect/educator

Known for an economy of form and function, Deborah Berke has built her New York firm based on a commitment to community and sustainability. She regularly returns to RISD as a critic and is a long-time faculty member at Yale University, where she has been named the first female dean of the School of Architecture, effective in July 2016. In 2012 Deborah earned the Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize—a $100,000 award and teaching appointment at UC/Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. She credits her success to a combination of practice, teaching and public service.

Michael Maltzan BArch 85 | architect/social activist

Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan designs homes, art centers, public housing complexes and landscapes to stimulate and engage users. Whether designed for the privileged or the poor, his buildings are graceful, minimalist and striking. Maltzan began earning recognition as early as his undergraduate days at RISD, when he won the Henry Adams AIA Scholastic Gold Medal. Since then his firm has been widely recognized – including with a 2012 American Academy of Arts & Letters Award – and its projects have been exhibited at major museums worldwide.