Art Center College of Design

Introduction

Art Center College of Design

Strategic Plan


The Art Center community—students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni—came together throughout 2010 to envision the future of our institution. The results of this shared vision is a five-year strategic plan that will position us to shape and define culture, encourage relevance and social responsibility in art and design, prepare graduates for leadership in an increasingly pluralistic society, and advance learning, research and making at Art Center to the highest level.

The plan, Create Change, sets the stage for the next era of growth for the College. Learn more about the plan and its milestones at Create Change.


Art Center's History


Like many ideas emerging from Art Center during our 80-year history, the very concept for such a school was visionary.

Edward A. “Tink” Adams was an advertising man with a radical idea in education: to teach real-world skills to artists and designers and prepare them for leadership roles in advertising, publishing and industrial design. To achieve that, he would create a faculty of working professionals from those fields. Art Center opened in 1930 with Adams serving as its director.

The viability of the idea he and a small group of colleagues launched was quickly proven. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, Art Center graduates quickly found employment.

In the years since, the caliber of our faculty and visiting artists has been extraordinary: Ansel Adams taught photography here; on a visit to campus, Keith Haring painted a mural. Our alumni include many of the world’s leading car designers, contemporary filmmakers (Armageddon, 300), ad makers (“Thatsa one spicy meatball,” “Got Milk?”), concept illustrators, (Star Wars’ Artoo Detoo), artists (The Blue Dog), product designers (Apple monitor, Oakley Zeros) and others who have shaped culture with their talents and vision.

Our original campus was in a courtyard of buildings on West Seventh Street in Los Angeles, a site sufficient for Art Center’s then 12 teachers and eight students. From the beginning, a simple filled-in circle—what has endured as the Dot—was chosen as a graphic element to add to Art Center’s printed materials. By 1940, enrollment had grown to nearly 500 students representing 37 states and several foreign countries.

After the war, returning veterans pushed enrollment numbers even higher, prompting a move in 1946 to a larger building on Third Street, as well as a commitment to a year-round schedule. In 1948, our renowned Automotive Design Department—now Transportation Design—was founded.

A year later, Art Center became an accredited four-year college, and offered its first bachelor degrees in Industrial Design, Photography, Illustration and Advertising. We played a seminal role in the founding of the first advanced-concept design studio for the automotive industry in the 1950s.

Adams was the first to encourage Art Center’s international relationships. One of the turning points came in 1956, when the Japanese External Trade Recovery Organization began sending students to Art Center. Adams and faculty members George Jergenson and John Coleman visited Japan and wrote a report, The Future of Japanese Industrial Design.

Adams oversaw Art Center for nearly 40 years. When he stepped down, leadership transferred to an alumnus, Don Kubly, who would lead the College for nearly 20 years, including our move to Pasadena.

Throughout our existence, we continued to grow with, and often anticipate, the many cultural and technological landmarks of the 20th century while refining our educational tools and methodologies to remain on the forefront of art and design education. In 1965, we became Art Center College of Design.

New undergraduate departments would be added each decade: Fine Art in 1967, Film in 1973, Graphic Design in 1984, Product Design in 1991 and Environmental Design in 1992, and our newest, Entertainment Design, in 2008. Graduate degree programs were launched in Broadcast Cinema in 1975; Art in 1986; Media Design in 2000 and Industrial Design in 2004.

We moved to Hillside Campus in Pasadena in 1976, into an iconic building designed by the modernist architectural firm Craig Ellwood Associates. In the 1980s, we were the first design school to install computer labs, spearheading the revolution in digital design. More recently, Art Center has focused on design’s potential to generate positive social change and improve people’s lives through our groundbreaking Designmatters educational program. In 2003, we became the first design school to receive Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status by both the United Nations Department of Public Information and the United Nations Populations Fund.

We have long taken a global view of the importance of design and art, and from 1986 to 1996, had a second campus in Switzerland. Today, we continue to leverage opportunities as they arise in the world, sending our students to work on projects across Europe, Asia and Central and South America, in order to address particular design challenges.

Closer to home, our Public Programs reflect our philosophy of design being integral to all aspects of life and being accessible to the surrounding community. The programs are now among those based at our South Campus—a former aviation wind tunnel—opened in 2004. South Campus is also home to our Graduate Art and Media Design programs.

We remain focused on our core educational mission of developing creative leaders and innovators in art and design. We’re leading the way with cross-disciplinary programs and studios that prepare students within and outside their chosen fields.

Our story is one that continues to unfold—and to be told.

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Programs

This school also offers:

MA

Master of Fine Arts in Environmental Design

Campus Full time 2 years September 2016 USA Pasadena

Art Center’s Graduate Environmental Design program addresses the relationships between body, materials, space and emotion. Our focus goes beyond style, considering the links between the psychological, physical, emotional and sensory effects of quality design. [+]

Master of Fine Arts in Environmental DesignArt Center’s Graduate Environmental Design program addresses the relationships between body, materials, space and emotion. Our focus goes beyond style, considering the links between the psychological, physical, emotional and sensory effects of quality design.We design experience—from the first moment of encounter to the last moment of interaction. Our approach dictates that we work in a multi-disciplinary way, and most often we are the ones generating the creative guidelines by which the total experience is explored. We define ourselves as opportunity seekers in the creative process.Tracks in Spatial Experience and Furniture and Fixtures enable students to specialize and obtain advanced knowledge on theory and practice. Our focus points towards hospitality, retail, office, exhibition and event design.The goal of our program is to educate designers to position themselves as author-based design leaders. Our graduates are designers capable of advancing the discipline and the craft of environmental design. Our program concentrates on extensive conceptual rigor crossed with business practices with a focus on theoretical thinking, technical innovation, manufacturing, fabrication and project execution.Art Center’s history of industry partners and internationally acclaimed alumni and faculty create a vibrant environment in which to investigate the future of spatial, furniture, lighting and fixture design.Our students create opportunity, innovation and development within our discipline. Scenography enhances our students’ ability to make meaningful connection in all that they design.Art Center is now accepting applications for students entering the Graduate Environmental Design program in the 2012 Fall Term.... [-]


Master of Fine Arts in Film

Campus Full time 2 years September 2016 USA Pasadena

Learn by doing. Rigor, discipline, tough critiques. Professionalism. These values and traditions are engrained in Art Centers DNA. [+]

Master of Fine Arts in FilmLearn by doing. Rigor, discipline, tough critiques. Professionalism. These values and traditions are engrained in Art Centers DNA.There are no boundaries among disciplines. Collaborations between students and faculty from all majors allow ideas to flourish, providing an unparalleled creative environment for filmmakers.Creative freedom and a strong emphasis in visual storytelling are the hallmarks of our program. Class size is small. Students begin making films immediately and become proficient through the rigorous practice of their craft. We have the flexibility to customize each individual students course of study to best meet their specific goals.Graduate Film students focus on directing; producing; screenwriting; digital, film and stereoscopic 3D cinematography; picture editing, sound design, color grading and VFX. Faculty mentors - exemplary artists and filmmakers from around the globe - guide and assist students in the development, design and production of their projects.There are no barriers to impede a students ability to conceptualize and realize their own works. Aside from short and feature-length narratives films, Graduate Film students will create documentaries, commercials, and public service announcements or promotional films for clients such as the United Nations and the American Red Cross, through Art Centers unique DesignMatters program.Our location in Southern California, capitol of the entertainment industry, makes Art Center an ideal choice for aspiring and current filmmakers to enhance their skills and develop their concepts. Our award-winning alumni are prominent in all aspects of the entertainment industry - directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, composers, executives, editors and VFX artists.... [-]


Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design

Campus Full time 3 years September 2016 USA Santa Barbara

Art Center’s Graduate Industrial Design program, Grad ID, offers a two-year, six-term Master of Science curriculum focusing on theory and practice for the production of insightful research, the development of human-centric designs and the creation of new business opportunities. [+]

Master of Fine Arts in Industrial DesignArt Center’s Graduate Industrial Design program, Grad ID, offers a two-year, six-term Master of Science curriculum focusing on theory and practice for the production of insightful research, the development of human-centric designs and the creation of new business opportunities.We combine Art Center’s renowned excellence in visual design and “making skills” with the knowledge, theories and methods essential for making design solutions for complex and unstructured problems. In doing so, we prepare students to assume leadership roles throughout creative organizations.Our faculty of internationally renowned educators—accomplished professionals across a range of design, technology and business fields—help our students develop their abilities through projects and critical dialogue in a design studio environment.We design with a consciousness that our products and innovations exist in a larger social and ecological context. Our program’s methodology, which takes a systems-level view and strives to balance the business, technological and human aspects of any challenge, is called Strategic Innovation. This creative process produces empathetic solutions to essential human needs. This broadly applicable approach allows designers—and enterprise—to be resilient, and to grow.... [-]


Master of Fine Arts in Media Design Practices

Campus Full time 3 years September 2016 USA Pasadena

Art Center’s graduate program in Media Design Practices offers a two- or three-year Master of Fine Arts curriculum that helps ambitious designers from a variety of backgrounds become design leaders and researchers in emerging fields. [+]

Master of Fine Arts in Media Design PracticesArt Center’s graduate program in Media Design Practices offers a two- or three-year Master of Fine Arts curriculum that helps ambitious designers from a variety of backgrounds become design leaders and researchers in emerging fields. We are dedicated to defining new practices in design. Our graduates are prepared for a lifetime of invention.Our vision is to educate designers not for the world as it is, but as it is becoming, to think hard about what it means to use our agency as designers to make the world as we may want it to be.To take this on, we offer two tracks: Lab and Field. Each track, in its own way, orients the designer toward the challenges of the future and the changing role of design.In the Lab track, students work in a studio context, using design to pose questions through applied and speculative projects that engage with emerging communication technologies and cultural practices. We move beyond the problem-solving paradigm to position the designer as a researcher with a distinct point-of-view who uses design to understand and engage with the world. We are expressly preparing media designers to take high performing roles in domains that are future-oriented and whose effects are far-reaching: information and communication technology, foresight units, industry R&D, scientific research labs, communication media, knowledge production, infrastructure and policy-making, and entrepreneurial or independent practices.In the Field track, run in collaboration with Designmatters, students work in a real-world context where social issues, media infrastructure, and communication technology intersect. With the Field track, we take on the ethics, politics, and practices of design in the realm of social change (including the rhetoric of “good”). Our students experience the power dynamics of high-, low-, and no-tech communications in a social context firsthand. We are preparing designers to take an active role in the creation of new models for international development and civic engagement through work in communities, institutions, governments, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Our graduates build viable lifelong design practices that engage directly with the human condition.In 2009, our department moved into a 14,000-square-foot former supersonic wind tunnel at Art Centers South Campus. A dramatic setting conducive to inspiration and experimentation, this dedicated space houses our students workstations, a digital lab and the Wind Tunnel gallery.... [-]


Master of Fine Arts in Transportation Design

Campus Full time 2 - 3 years September 2016 USA Pasadena

Students of Art Center’s Graduate Program in Transportation Design will help change the thinking of the automotive industry and the wider field of transportation and personal mobility. [+]

Master of Fine Arts in Transportation DesignStudents of Art Center’s Graduate Program in Transportation Design will help change the thinking of the automotive industry and the wider field of transportation and personal mobility.The program will offer a choice of two tracks: the Vehicle Track and the Transportation Systems track.The Vehicle Track will be for those who wish to enter or re-enter the vehicle manufacturing industry and who are motivated to use creativity and strategic thinking beyond the sketchpad.The Transportation Systems track will be for those who are motivated to use design and systems thinking to create better transportation solutions at a systems level rather than at a product level.There is growing recognition within business and industry that designers bring important value well beyond product and service development. Therefore, both tracks of our program are a curricular mix of design methodology, strategic innovation, systems thinking, customer-driven research and superior communication skills. This, combined with a specialist knowledge and understanding of the respective fields, will equip graduates to become agents of change across a broad transportation landscape.Our program is a unique resource of creative leadership for all vehicle manufacturers as well as organizations and agencies responsible for planning, implementing and delivering complex transportation systems solutions for national, state and local use.Our program will flourish with a diverse student population. Vehicle Track students will come with strong transportation design skills. The Transportation Systems track will welcome students with prior degrees in subjects such as design, architecture, urban planning, business administration, engineering, anthropology or economics will bring the multi-disciplinary culture that is essential for advancing transportation design over the coming decades. Their common attribute will be an enthusiasm for wanting to redefine what compelling, sustainable and viable transportation and mobility solutions should be for an inspired future.Our graduates will go on to assume positions of creative leadership in the automotive industry, within and beyond the design studios; creative leadership across the broader field of transportation manufacturing; creative leadership within organizations and agencies responsible for planning, implementing and delivering transportation systems solutions.... [-]