San Francisco Institute of Architecture

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The San Francisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA) was founded in 1990 by Fred A. Stitt, architect, as a school devoted to innovation in design and experimental research and reform in architectural education. Its goal: to offer a new kind of architectural education, grounded in nature-based architecture and sustainable design. The school was co founded by Lou Marines, former CEO of the national American Institute of Architects. A year later Marines left SFIA to pursue independent continuing education professional development programs.

Prior to SFIA, Fred Stitt taught for three years at UC Berkeley, where he studied and documented problems and potential reforms in architectural education. He previously conducted the same kind of research on all aspects of architectural practice at various architecture firms. The results were presented over time in 18 books authored by Stitt and published by McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, and others. He also created and published over 70 architectural manuals through his own publishing company, Guidelines. The most recent textbook produced by Fred Stitt, The Ecological Design Handbook, was published by McGraw-Hill and recently translated into Chinese, and is used as a university textbook around the world.

Stitt and SFIA's distinguished faculty are now applying extended problem seeking and creative problem solving to every aspect of contemporary sustainable architecture. In pursuit of this work, SFIA created the first major national and international green building conferences (the Eco Wave Series) and has held recurring workshops for design professionals and educators in over 50 cities across the U.S.

Since 1997 SFIA has provided low-cost distance learning programs to architecture and engineering students and professionals in every state in the U.S. and on every continent around the world. Today, SFIA is the world's oldest and largest green building school in the world.

In 2007 SFIA relocated to Berkeley, California. SFIA plans to eventually establish onsite programs in additional cities.

In 2008 SFIA introduced a new program--"Universal Green" -- which will ultimately offer universal online education on every aspect of architecture and green building, at no cost to anyone, anywhere--whoever wants it.

Degree programs[edit]

SFIA is a graduate school offering two-year Master of Architecture and Master of Ecological Design distance learning degrees for those with an undergraduate degree in architecture, and a three-year (or longer) program for those with little or no previous architectural education. Graduates of four-year architecture programs who have experience working in design, construction, or related professions qualify for these degree programs. Licensed architects qualify. Licensed engineers may qualify, depending on experience and areas of specialization.

SFIA also offers a Master of Business Administration in Sustainability (Green MBA) degree, a Master of Project Management degree and a Master of Science in Green Building.

SFIA encourages working students who want to complete their degrees through part-time study. Classes are scheduled for evenings and occasionally on Saturdays.

Graduates of SFIA have gone on to teach at other schools, become licensed architects, and enter the profession in a variety of roles, from contractors and developers, to green building consultants and administrators, to responsible positions in such agencies as the San Francisco Department of the Environment.


The San Francisco Institute of Architecture received the 2008 Beyond GreenTM Award from the national Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, for SFIA's Universal Green Initiative--Universal Education in Green Building and Whole Building Design.

SFIA Director Fred Stitt received the award at a ceremony in the United States House of Representatives building in Washington, D.C. on February 26, 2009. There he briefed architect attendees and congressional delegates and officials concerned with the future of green building and green building education.

Affiliations and memberships[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°51′09″N 122°16′09″W / 37.852505°N 122.269287°W / 37.852505; -122.269287