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The Department of Interior Architecture is focused on the subject of adaptive reuse in both undergraduate and graduate programs: BFA in Interior Studies, MDes in Interior Studies and MA in Adaptive Reuse. Through distinct lenses, these programs promote creative explorations of the subject of adaptive reuse. Its domain encompasses issues of preservation, conservation, alteration and interventions in the field of architecture and interior studies and practice, but also in the realms of urban and landscape design, and their repercussions in the history and theory of architecture, urbanism, art and design.

The 4-year BFA in Interior Studies, ranked 3rd in the U.S. by Design Intelligence, explores the spatial possibilities of adaptive reuse through design studio and related courses while incorporating a liberal arts curriculum. The program begins in the first year with Experimental and Foundation Studies. The students join the department with a major declaration in spring of Freshman year. 

for information on the BFA Program

The 2+ year MDes in Interior Studies focuses broadly on the potential of interventions within the existing built environment through two different options of study: Adaptive Reuse (AR) or Exhibition and Narrative Environments (EXNE).

The 1+ year MA in Adaptive Reuse is a post-professional immersion into altering and intervening in existing structures.

Ranked 2nd in the U.S. by Design Intelligence, both graduate programs offer a specialist design education in the alteration of existing built environments. They share the pedagogical objective of designing interventions in the existing built environment but diverge in their approach. Studies begin with an immersive summer program in either a 6-week study of the fundamentals of design in Providence (MDes) or a 7-week focus on adaptive reuse through both a design and travel program based in Copenhagen, Denmark (MA).

The curricula of the graduate and undergraduate programs are distinct with the exception of the Advanced Design Studios, where there is some overlap. Generally, the interaction between graduate and undergraduate students is one of reciprocity between the energy and creative exuberance of the undergrad, and the experience and wisdom of the graduate student.

for information on the MA and MDes Graduate Programs

As part of the curriculum, the department promotes the exploration of design issues in a real-life setting. These take the form of collaborations, from corporate sponsorship to community engagement, and through external partners as well as among the different divisions on campus.

External collaborations include opportunities to work with institutions, from foundations, to corporations, to non-profit organizations. They provide experience for the student in designing to a client-based agenda, and present a valuable opportunity for students in both community building and public engagement. Recent external collaborations include the van Beuren Charitable Foundation for the exploration of adaptive reuse in Newport, Textron Inc., the Anthony Carnevale School and its focus on education and autism, the Pine Street Inn - the largest homeless shelter in New England, GGP Inc. - a retail real estate company, and Blackstone Valley Neighborworks.

Advanced design studios offer a venue for collaboration with RISD departments, including Landscape Architecture, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, and more recently, with Fine Arts Division departments, such as Textiles and Ceramics.

The new Master of Design (MDes) option in Exhibition and Narrative Environment (EXNE) offers curricular collaboration through elective classes in related departments: Graphic Design, History of Art & Visual Culture, Digital + Media and the Museum.

Exhibition of work is the hallmark of the RISD education. In the department, there are shared opportunities for all three programs as well as exhibitions distinguished by program. These opportunities include the Woods Gerry Triennial Department Show; The Annual Graduation Show; Open Studio, an informal showcase of the student work across campus; The Senior Show; Graduate Biennial Show; and the Graduate Thesis Show.

Finally, there are collaborations with Brown University programs and centers, including the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, and in the future, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.