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Graduate Thesis at SCI-Arc is an opportunity for M.Arch students to explore a set of relevant disciplinary issues as they complete their programs of study and research with a presentation and public exhibition of an individual disciplinary position that expands the boundaries of contemporary architectural practice.

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The M.Arch 1 and M.Arch 2 programs culminate in a year-long graduate thesis project that exemplifies SCI-Arc’s mission to develop independent thinking and promote research and innovation in architecture. Graduate Thesis at SCI-Arc prepares students to articulate, propose, and defend their ideas and positions on architecture as well as engage with professionals as peers and colleagues. The depth and rigor of Graduate Thesis also serve to facilitate the transition from graduate school to professional practice.

In the spring semester of their vertical year, M.Arch students enter thesis preparation, during which they are required to take disciplinary stance in architecture and prototype responses to contemporary architectural issues, in anticipation of the final summer semester dedicated to production and execution of the thesis project. This pedagogical model empowers students to move between theoretical and speculative frameworks in their development of an architectural position.

Heading titleGraduate Thesis Weekend, a Public Forum for Emerging Questions in Architecture

Spanning three days of school-wide presentations, reviews, charrettes, and more, Graduate Thesis Weekend is the school’s largest annual event. Throughout the course of the weekend, graduate students present their thesis projects to practitioners, academics, jurors, and critics from around the world who converge at SCI-Arc in a symposium-like forum to consider, debate, and dispute emerging questions in architecture.

In addition to each student’s thesis presentation, SCI-Arc also hosts the Graduate Thesis Spin Room, which serves as a diversified discussion platform for visiting critics to engage with graduating M.Arch students about their final design projects each year. Featuring round-tables organized by topic, one-on-one conversations between world-renowned guest reviewers and students, as well as a corresponding podcast, each year’s Spin Room provides a complex, in-depth look at the work made and presented by the graduating class.

graduate thesis pin-up discussion keck hall

Heading titleJuried by the International Design Community

Each year SCI-Arc invites over 100 distinguished local and international architects, urbanists, theorists, deans, and chairs from around the globe to review thesis projects. During Graduate Thesis reviews, students defend their ideas to professional peers and luminaries of the field.

Critics have included Thom Mayne, John McMorrough, Greg Lynn, Sylvia Lavin, Axel Killian, Mariana Ibañez, Eva Franch i Gilabert, Gabriel Esquivel, Maristella Casciato, Jeffrey Kipnis, Enrique Norten, Benjamin H. Bratton, Aaron Betsky, Frances Anderton, Marion Weiss, special thesis advisor Brett Steele, Mark Wigley, and Graduate Thesis Coordinator Florencia Pita.

thesis student architecture presentation

Heading titleGehry Prize for Best Graduate Thesis

Endowed by SCI-Arc Trustee Frank Gehry and his wife Bertha, the Gehry Prize is a monetary award recognizing the best graduate thesis projects each year.

The recipient of the Gehry Thesis Prize and the additional Merit Thesis Awards are determined annually by jury commendations and announced during SCI-Arc’s commencement ceremony which concludes Graduate Thesis Weekend.

frank gehry studio final critique
graduate thesis presentation in keck hall

Grad Thesis by M.Arch students Alessio Grancini and Runze Zhang, Gehry Prize recipient (Advisors: Peter Tesla + Devyn Weiser)

large crowd around model at thesis