Interior Architecture (BFA)
In Columbia College Chicago's Interior Architecture program, you'll develop a professional portfolio and a skill set that will prepare you to design interior space. Our program integrates the worlds of manual and digital project work, and the conceptual with the practical. You'll develop an understanding of the creative design process, including research and analysis. Your learning is focused in the design studio, where you'll develop solutions to a variety of project types and gain an understanding of your eventual professional focus.
You'll learn how to design spaces for safety, functionality, and aesthetics. You'll develop a deep working knowledge of human needs, materials, structures, planning, building systems, and building codes. After you graduate, you'll qualify to take the required National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam for licensure.
Please note: to apply for this BFA program, you'll need to include some additional materials.
The interior design program leading to the BFA in Interior Architecture is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, https://www.accredit-id.org/, 206 Grandville Avenue, Suite 350, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503.
The CIDA-accredited program prepares students for entry-level interior design practice, for advanced study, and to apply for membership in professional interior design organizations. The BFA in Interior Architecture granted by Columbia College Chicago meets the educational requirement for eligibility to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination (NCIDQ Exam). For more information about NCIDQ Exam eligibility visit: https:/https://www.cidq.org/eligibility-requirements.
In the Classroom
In addition to shared art and design foundation courses, you'll spend your first year exploring the practice of interior architecture. Introductory courses on the industry, design thinking, and human-centered design will help you understand the role of interior architecture in society through case studies, guest speakers, and interactive exercises.
You'll take specialized courses that will give you hands-on experience with research, materials, construction, lighting, building codes, drafting, and documentation.
Our studio design courses are the heart of the program. These hands-on experiences are designed to reflect a professional interior architecture/design studio, in which you'll research, plan, and prototype projects in a variety of contexts.
You'll take courses on professional practices and portfolio development specifically designed for the field. You'll learn about developing creative solutions for a client's spatial requirements, business structures, project management, and communication. Your faculty mentors will prepare you for the licensure process and help you organize your body of work around your specific career goals and areas of expertise.
In your final studio course during your last semester, you’ll apply all the skills, knowledge, and experience to a real-world project. You'll select a client, a building, and a site—real clients, often—and develop a professional project proposal. Your final presentation in front of guests from the Chicago architecture and design community will give you the chance to experience how critique works in the real world.
Chicago: An Architecture Icon
Chicago is one of the most iconic cities in the world for architecture and design. Chicago is home to the Chicago Architecture Center, the Merchandise Mart, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, along with prominent professional organizations and lecture series. Many of your courses will bring professionals into the classroom from this vibrant community. And, you'll often have opportunities to visit and tour architecture firms and design studios throughout the city.
Internships are required and critically important to eventual professional success. During your fifth semester, you’ll take a course to prepare your portfolio for internships, and you’ll likely be interning with firms during your last three semesters in the program.
Companies employing Columbia interns have consistently been pleased with our students’ approach to projects and the skills and abilities brought to bear in project development. Faculty connections lead to many internship opportunities, and listings are shared through the department’s social media; there are typically more internship opportunities than available interns.
Students have interned at firms such as:
- RGLA, one of the top 15 retail design firms in America
- Perkins + Will Global, an award-winning firm known for its legacy of design excellence
- GREC Architects, a firm that is known for its collaborative team environment
- Designs 4 Dignity, a pro-bono firm that uses donated materials to transform nonprofit spaces
Interior Architecture faculty members are professional architects and designers in addition to passionate educators. They conduct important research for the field on topics such as sustainability and experimental design.
Dave Broz is a Visiting Professor and has led the creation of over 7 million square feet of new buildings and renovations at clients across the globe, with many of his projects receiving design awards. He has been recognized for his commitment to service by being awarded The Buckminster Fuller AIA Illinois Service Award, Crain’s Chicago 2021 Most Notable Not Profit Board Leaders, and the University of Kansas Alumni Service Award.
As a prolific public speaker, Dave has presented at dozens of conferences across the Globe and has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Kansas, Illinois Institute of Technology, Florida State University, St Mary’s College, and now Columbia College Chicago. Dave lives and teaches that designers have the ability AND the responsibility to make our world a better place through their design vision.
Tim Cozzens is an Associate Professor with over 40 years of professional design experience across numerous project typologies and is president of workshop/Cozzens, a design-build studio specializing in custom spaces and objects. He has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, Penland School of Crafts, and Northern Illinois University. Previous professional design experience includes positions at Perkins + Will, Swanke Hayden Connell, DesignBridge, The Environments Group, and ISD Incorporated.
Rene Kingis an Assistant Professor and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin; an experience which ignited her passion for urban environments. Her teaching interests are wide-ranging, covering various aspects of design; civic engagement, social justice, story-telling, and participatory design.
Seeking enhanced impact, she has cultivated partnerships with a wide spectrum of civic institutions in Chicago and her hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin. These partnerships are rooted in her commitment to engaging future users in participatory design processes. René is also the co-founder of the Chicago Pattern Project and the founder of Pattern Squared, an innovative initiative focused on exploring the communities we inhabit to generate artifacts that stimulate conversations surrounding community, environmental attachment and placemaking. Through these collaborative efforts, she aims to foster enthusiasm, engagement, and a deep sense of agency throughout the design journey. Her ultimate goal is to co-create spaces that genuinely mirror the distinct needs and aspirations of the communities they are intended to serve. Her dedication to community involvement and the creation of meaningful, community-centered spaces is at the heart of her work.
Rebecca Midden is an Assistant Professor and Chicago based designer. Throughout her career, Rebecca has successfully completed a diverse array of architectural and design projects. Her portfolio includes the design and planning of corporate headquarters, mixed-use residential towers, private residences, and luxury hotels. In addition, her practice includes interdisciplinary explorations, with an interest in making the invisible visible as it pertains to our emotional and psychological experiences in spatial environments. These explorations are experienced through art installations, object design, and landscape projects.
Rebecca is the founder of Dutch Miller Design, a multidisciplinary practice based in Chicago with projects nationwide. Rebecca received a MArch from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010 and she received a BA from Bowling Green State University in Art History in 2003.
Lucy Trimarco is an Assistant Professor, an NCIDQ Registered Interior Designer by the State of Illinois, and certified as a LEED AP ID+C professional. Previous design experience with architecture firms includes VOA Associates, OWP&P, Partner by Design, The Environments Group, Fitzgerald APD and as a consultant to Perkins &Will, Lieber Group, TKA Partners and McCann Associates. She holds a Master of Science in Product Design & Development from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design with Honors from The International Academy of Design & Technology.
Guided by empathy and inclusivity in collaboration, Lucy has developed interiors for commercial offices, showrooms, and healthcare institutions. Her most recent Chicago projects are Bloomer Chocolate’s Corporate Office and Thomas West Hair Salon. In her current role at Columbia College Chicago, she is working to integrate more DEI content strategies into student projects and investigating how to integrate new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) into the classroom.
“The fact that my professors worked in the field was critical for me. And because the professors were practitioners, it led to a deep network.”
Michelle McMinn MFA ’06
Columbia Interior Architecture alumni frequently join interior design or architectural firms across the metropolitan region. Our graduates work at firms such as:
- Aria Group Architects
- Perkins + Will
- Designs 4 Dignity
- Susan Fredman Design
- Studio Gang Architects
- Studio O+A
- Crate and Barrel
Other alumni do entrepreneurial or sales work, and some pursue advanced education and graduate school.
Jordyn Hunter ’16 is design and logistics coordinator at Designs For Dignity, a Chicago-based firm that works with nonprofits to provide pro-bono design solutions.
Brian Wiley ’16 is a lighting designer at Schuler Shook, a firm specializing in theatre and architectural lighting projects such as the Chicago Riverwalk and Hyatt’s global headquarters.
Kelai Diebel ’12 is design manager at MOSS, an Amsterdam-based sustainable design firm specializing on rooftop landscapes, greenhouses, and urban farming concepts.
Michael Bonomo ’99 is principal and director of global workplace for CannonDesign, a global design firm that unites architects, engineers, industry experts, and builders around the world.
Chris Bennett ’09 is a design team member at Studio Gang Architects, legendary architect Jeanne Gang’s studio, where he works on urban design practice.
Student Achievement Data
The Graduating Senior Survey assesses early post-graduation outcomes among students who complete their degree at Columbia College Chicago. Among the 2020-21 Interior Design bachelor's degree recipients there was a 38% response rate. Interior Design students near graduation time reported 56% full-time employment, 11% part-time employment, and 33% not employed but still seeking out employment opportunities. No Interior Design students reported graduate school plans following graduation.
Among those who secured employment, two-thirds indicated their primary job will be highly related to their Interior Design degree with the remaining one-third indicating moderately related.