CCA Logo

Campus Planning Questions & Answers

Posted December 14, 2017, 12:00 AM Updated November 7, 2019, 10:43 AM

Please Note: This Q&A document was originally posted on December 14, 2017. There have been many updates since then so we updated content below on June 17, 2019.

Have a question about CCA’s campus Unification? We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about the initiative in one easy place for you to access. Check it out here! Can't find the answer you’re looking for? Email us at

Why is CCA unifying and expanding its campus in San Francisco?

CCA is unifying into a single campus in San Francisco to create a richer learning experience for students. Building on 112 years of “learning through making,” the unified campus will be a living, learning laboratory, a model of sustainable design and operation, and a catalyst for creativity and changemaking in San Francisco’s burgeoning art and design district. It will provide on-campus housing for nearly half our student body, easing pressure on area housing stock in the region, and will build a stronger community by bringing all of our programs together for the first time in decades. This will create unlimited opportunities for interaction within and outside of our community.

How did CCA come to this decision?

After nearly a decade of both qualitative and quantitative research, CCA finalized a strategic plan for our future and growth through outreach to our community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees. During the process, we confirmed that one of our greatest challenges is CCA’s two-campus structure and its effect on teaching and learning inside and outside of the classroom. The physical divide that currently separates our community presents social, logistical, and—most importantly—pedagogical challenges.

We also determined the far-reaching benefits of bringing our academic programs together. These include significantly increasing synergies among disciplines, allowing us to build new, improved, and integrated facilities for making, learning and living, and increasing connections among CCA community members and with leading practitioners, industries, and supporters outside of the college.

Who is designing the expanded main academic building in San Francisco?

Award-winning architecture firm Studio Gang was selected to design our new main academic building. In addition, new student housing projects by award-winning firms LMS Architects and Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc. have opened and are underway. The overall Unification project will also feature renovations of current buildings on the San Francisco campus.

When will Unification be complete?

We’ll share an updated timeline by fall 2019. See the Campus Planning site for an overall Unification timeline since 2010.

How is Unification being funded?

A number of financing strategies will be employed, including a major capital campaign, prudent borrowing, use of reserves built up for this purpose, and leveraging other CCA assets. As in the past, no tuition dollars will be used for campus expansion efforts.

When, how, and why was Studio Gang selected to design the main academic building for the project?

After the completion of an international architect search, CCA announced in November 2016 the selection of MacArthur Award-winning architect Jeanne Gang and her firm Studio Gang to design the expanded campus in San Francisco. Through an extensive review process, involving CCA trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends, Studio Gang was selected for their visionary work, commitment to innovation and sustainability, and collaborative style.

Why is CCA expanding in San Francisco and not Oakland?

CCA was able to purchase a large property behind our main academic building on the San Francisco campus, which allows for the needed expansion. The Oakland campus is landlocked and does not have the space or facilities needed to bring all CCA programs and students together.

San Francisco has become so expensive. How will students be able to afford to live there?

Our San Francisco campus will include on-campus, below-market-rate housing for more than 700 students, with housing nearby for another 200 students—fully housing all first- and second-year students.

CCA has been a trailblazer in creating student housing in San Francisco. Along with a handful of other institutions, CCA worked with the city of San Francisco in 2010 to establish a special student housing ordinance that recognized this urgent need. CCA has three of the first four projects to be completed under this ordinance (Panoramic, Blattner Hall, and 188 Hooper 2020).

To attract burgeoning talent, CCA’s ability to house incoming students is vital to its long-term growth plan in San Francisco. CCA sees providing housing as not only a necessity for taking care of our students, but as part of being a responsible civic partner, making an investment at the community level.

Artists have been leaving San Francisco in droves. Why would we want to move all our programs there?

For over 100 years CCA has been a leader in creativity and innovation. With our 1,950 students, 500-plus faculty, 200 staff, and 34 degree programs, we have an opportunity to add tangible value in San Francisco, to contribute to the burgeoning arts community in our immediate neighborhood, and to lead conversations around the important role of artists and designers in the life of the city and region.

Does this mean that you’re eliminating the Oakland-based (crafts) programs?

No, we do not plan to eliminate any of our programs. We’re excited about the possibility of creating new and improved facilities for all kinds of making, including traditional crafts such as ceramics, jewelry and metal arts, glass, and textiles. By bringing the academic programs together, we hope to create synergies among all our programs in fine arts, crafts, design, architecture, and writing.

What’s going to happen to the Oakland CCA property?

After an extensive search and review process, CCA selected Equity Community Builders and Emerald Fund (ECB/EF) to work with us on the Oakland property redevelopment process. We selected both firms, based on their experience creating places that strengthen and contribute to community vitality. CCA has worked with these firms to develop a vision for the property that honors our artistic legacy, features spaces dedicated to artists and the arts, enhances public access to the site, and provides much-needed affordable and market-rate housing. A plan was submitted to the city in fall 2018.

ECB/EF held a series of visioning sessions with CCA’s Board of Trustees, faculty, alumni, staff, and students to develop a draft plan for the site. CCA and ECB/EF are now in the process of receiving feedback from the community about these projects. Presentations have been made to CCA faculty and staff and to the Alumni Campus Planning Council, the President’s Alumni Council, and the Rockridge community.

Will CCA continue to own the Oakland site?

CCA has entered into an option agreement with ECB/EF that will allow them to purchase the property after an extensive entitlement process is completed. If ECB/EF chooses to purchase the property, they’ll own and manage it once it’s developed. This agreement enables us to work closely with ECB/EF to both develop immediate plans for the property and help leave a lasting legacy of the arts on the site.