A field at the intersection of architecture, conservation and design of the built environment, Interior Architecture takes an innovative approach to the reuse and transformation of existing buildings. Every built structure eventually faces three possibilities: demolition, preservation or adaptive reuse. RISD’s Interior Architecture Department has focused on the latter since 1947, with the leadership of Ernst Lichtblau. An architect, designer and student of Otto Wagner, he changed the name and professional orientation of the department from Interior Design to Interior Architecture, which shifted the focus from the application of surface materials to understanding the design of “a building from the interior to the exterior.”

Today, advanced design studios are central to both the BFA, MA and MDes programs. The core curricula include the study of history, theory, drawing, structures, materials, lighting and technology, all of which ensures that students fully understand the concerns of professionals in the building industry and allied fields.