Skip to main content

Undergraduate 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.

Jenny Wu Faculty Portraits

“There is no greater contribution an architect can make to the progress of the discipline than a project. In the final year of their education, SCI-Arc students develop an architectural thesis that advances the highest degree of design and technical expertise coupled with critical thinking.”

- Jenny Wu, Undergraduate Thesis Coordinator

Heading title

The culmination of SCI-Arc's five-year B.Arch curriculum is the year-long Undergraduate Thesis, which challenges the next generation of architects and designers to take firm positions, form fresh perspectives, and propose solutions for eminent architectural issues.

During their final year in the B.Arch program, students are required to take disciplinary stances in architecture, expressed through the development of a building design. This pedagogical model empowers students to move between speculative frameworks and the tangible considerations built architecture confronts.

simultaneous undergraduate thesis presentations keck hall

Heading titleDeveloping a Professional Position on Architecture

During SCI-Arc’s thesis prep semester, students build upon the knowledge and perspective acquired over the previous four years of liberal arts courses and elective seminars to develop an individual position in relation to contemporary architectural discourse.

Through engaging with research methods and architectural precedents students create drawings, images, and models that effectively illustrate their developing ideas.

In the final semester of the B.Arch program, students continue to hone their positions and define design challenges that address both their personal points of view as well as global issues relevant to the discipline and practice of architecture. Students then select sites and establish programs, ultimately conceiving schematic designs for structures that intellectually and tectonically resolve their initial design problems.

Thesis culminates with a presentation and public exhibition of a holistically-researched architectural thesis.

Heading titleCritiqued by Remarkable Critics and Thinkers

Throughout their thesis year, B.Arch students regularly present their in-progress projects during reviews with the aim of fostering direction, discussion, and debate.

Each year, SCI-Arc invites world-renowned architects to serve as special advisors to Undergraduate Thesis students. Past Special Thesis Advisors have included Wolf D. Prix, Ferda Kolatan, and Neil M. Denari.

Undergraduate Thesis by Chu Wen Ong

Heading titleUndergraduate Thesis Weekend

Undergraduate Thesis Weekend is a public platform where students launch their careers as architects during which over 70 jurors, critics, and architecture professionals from around the globe converge at SCI-Arc to discuss, debate, and dispute emerging questions in architecture. Leading the conversation about architecture’s current and evolving role, B.Arch thesis projects speculate on how theoretical and technological innovation will shape the future of the built environment.

Over the course of Thesis Weekend, B.Arch students present their final projects to panels of faculty and guest juries comprised of some of the top architects, critics, and theorists in the field. Past thesis critics have included Thom Mayne, Sir Peter Cook, Winka Dubbeldam, Graham Harman, Catherine Ingraham, Nanako Umemoto, and Hitoshi Abe.

Heading titleUndergraduate Thesis Prize

SCI-Arc’s Undergraduate Thesis prize is endowed by Blythe Mayne and Pritzker Prize-winning architect and SCI-Arc founding faculty Thom Mayne to recognize an outstanding B.Arch thesis project that exemplifies the highest degree of design skill, technical expertise, and critical thinking. The recipient of the Blythe and Thom Mayne Undergraduate Thesis Prize is determined each year by jury commendations and announced during SCI-Arc’s commencement ceremony in September.

Heading titleUndergraduate Thesis Prize Recipients

Undergraduate Thesis by Abel Maqueira and Phoebe Ou-Yang

undergraduate thesis presentation jury interacts with student

Isabela de Souza final presentation

Undergraduate Thesis by Alejandro Loor

birds eye thesis student presentation keck hall

Luciano Menghini final presentation

building render

Undergraduate Thesis by Ka Leung, Wilson Chan, Yi Peng Liu and Zixiao Kiwi Zhu (Advisor: Marcelo Spina)

Axonometric drawing of a building with extruded lobbies from a thin building

Undergraduate Thesis axonometric drawing by Karim Saleh