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Fact Sheet:
Program Type:: Cal Poly Global Program Minimum GPA:: 2.5
Language of Instruction:: English Areas of Study:: Architecture
Program Description:


Cal Poly Global Programs offer Cal Poly courses taught by Cal Poly faculty.
Spend the Fall quarter living and traveling in Italy, learning about Architecture and Italian language & culture!


Rome, Italy

This program is based in a beautiful, historic Roman palazzo, and includes two weeks of program travel to dozens of cultural sites plus a weeklong break for independent travel.  The creative and productive design studio will culminate in the design of a large, complex urban building in Rome. 


Some classes will take place in furnished design studios and classrooms provided by Academic Initiatives Abroad (AIA), the Service Provider on this program, but much of the course work takes place outside of the classroom. 


Students take three seminar courses and a design studio, earning a total of 15 architecture credits.  This program is an excellent opportunity to develop a broader understanding of global issues.  All classes are taught in English.  
The courses are taught by Cal Poly professor Tom Rankin plus several local experts, and most course work takes place outside of the classroom.  The creative and productive design studio will culminate in the design of a large, complex urban building in Rome.  All courses are academically challenging, with topics including: Integrated Sustainable Design, History, Theory, Analysis, and Community Development.  The program also provides an engaging Italian language and culture course. 
You will earn Cal Poly credit on this program. 
- ARCH 420 Seminar in Architectural History (4 units)
- ARCH 445 Urban Design in Architecture (3 units)
- ARCH 451 Architectural Design 4.1 (5 units)
- ARCH 480 Special Studies in Architecture (3 units)
Meet the Faculty

Tom Rankin 
Faculty Leader: Tom Rankin (MArch Harvard University Graduate School of Design; BA Princeton) is an American architect who has been practicing and teaching in Rome since 1991.  He is the founder and director of Tom Rankin Architects (TRA_20), a design firm devoted to research and practice of environmentally sustainable architecture and urbanism, a topic on which he frequently writes and speaks.  He received a ‘laurea’ at the Universita di Roma.  Contact him at


This program is open to students majoring in Architecture.   
NOTE: Only students who have been pre-approved by Architecture faculty may apply to this program. 

- Minimum 2.5 GPA
- Not actively on academic probation
- Good disciplinary standing
- Approval from the Architecture department and the Faculty Leader 

Minimum Enrollment 

Maximum Enrollment
How to Apply
First, attend the Architecture Away 101 Workshop and complete the Architecture Away Module online.  
If selected for participation in this program, you will be prompted to complete the online Cal Poly Abroad Application in March 2017.  

Program Details

Housing & Meals
You will live in centrally located furnished apartments arranged by Academic Initiatives Abroad (AIA), which is the Service Provider on this program.   Student apartments include shared kitchen facilities, so that students can prepare their own meals over the duration of the program (note that daily meals are not included in the program fee).  However, several group meals are included in the program (Welcome Dinner, Thanksgiving, group meals on Excursions, and Farewell Dinner).  

At the AIA Rome Center, classroom space, design studios, a library, computer and printing resources, as well as common spaces are available for students to use. 
Fall 2017 
Mon, Sept 4 Program Starts
Orientation at AIA Rome Center
Sept 5-8 Cal Poly classes (week 1)
Sept 9-10 Weekend ~ free time 
Welcome Dinner in Rome (Saturday evening)
Sept 11-15 Cal Poly classes (week 2)
Excursion 1: Castelvecchio Calvisio, Abruzzo (Thurs & Fri)
Group dinner in Abruzzo hill town (Thurs) & group lunch in Abruzzo (Fri)
Sept 16-17 Return to Rome (Saturday)
Weekend ~ free time
Sept 18-22 Cal Poly classes (week 3)
Day Trip to Ostia Antica (Friday)
Sept 23-24 Weekend ~ free time 
Sept 25-29  Cal Poly classes (week 4)
Sept 30-Oct 1 Weekend ~ free time 
Oct 2-6 Cal Poly classes (week 5)
Excursion 2: Terracina, Herculaneum & Paestum (Tues-Thurs)
Group pizza lunch in Naples (Tues), group dinner in Naples (Weds), group picnic lunch on Vesuvius (Thurs), and Paestum Seaside Dinner (Thurs)
Oct 7-8 Weekend ~ free time 
Oct 9-13 Cal Poly classes (week 6)
Oct 14-15 Weekend ~ free time 
Oct 16-20 Cal Poly classes (week 7)
Day Trip to Tivoli (Thursday)
Oct 21-22 Weekend ~ free time 
Oct 23-27 Cal Poly classes (week 8)
Oct 28 Saturday ~ free time 
Oct 29-Nov 3 Cal Poly classes (week 9)
Excursion 3: Central and Northern Italy hill towns, Verona & Venice
Group Tuscan dinner in Siena (Sunday), and group lunch in Veneto (Weds)
Nov 4-5 Weekend ~ free time 
Nov 6-10 Fall Break ~ no classes (week 10)
Nov 11-12 Weekend ~ free time 
Nov 13-17 Cal Poly classes (week 11)
Nov 18-19 Weekend ~ free time 
Nov 20-24 Cal Poly classes (week 12)
Thanksgiving Group Dinner (Thursday)
Nov 25-26 Weekend ~ free time 
Nov 27-Dec 1 Cal Poly classes (week 13)
Dec 2-3 Weekend ~ free time 
Dec 4-8 Cal Poly classes (week 14)
Dec 9-10 Weekend ~ free time 
Dec 11-15 Cal Poly classes (week 15)
Dec 16-17 Weekend ~ free time
Dec 18-20 Final Reviews & Exhibit Reception 
Pizza luncheon & Farewell Dinner (Wednesday)
Dec 21 Program ends ~ return to the U.S. 

The following excursions and field trips are part of the program, and include lecture material that is part of the Cal Poly courses.  Excursions and field trips will be guided by local experts. 
Castelvecchio Calvisio, Abruzzo
This exclusive field study workshop in the hill towns of the Abruzzo region of Italy focuses on the medieval walled town of Castelvechio Calvisio, with visits to other surrounding hamlets. Students will also examine disaster response efforts in the earthquake-damaged city of Aquila. Working intensely on-site, students will research and draw the existing urban and landscape conditions of this picturesque place, in preparation for a brief and creative design studio problem to follow in Rome.

Terracina, Herculaneum & Paestum
The AIA Rome Center organizes a serious conservation and development workshop at the ancient site/modern city at Herculaneum near Naples. This travel workshop is intended to introduce students to serious issues of cultural heritage management and urban/territorial development. Students will work with local professionals to research the urban, territorial, cultural and economic condition of the coastal towns in south-central Italy. Students will continue the workshop in their design studio in Rome.  Visits may include a selection of the following: an extraordinary botanical garden built on the ruins of a medieval town of Ninfa, the medieval Fossanova Abbey at Priverno, the 2,500 year old seaside town of Terracina, the ancient cities of Ercolano and Pompeii, the Roman villa at Oplontis, the Greek temples at Paestum, and the summit of the Mount Vesuvius volcano.

Various Central Italian Hill towns, Verona & Venice
The dual emphasis for this extensive trip includes: 1) the inter-relationship of compact urbanism and sustainable use of landscape and 2) the integration of Modern and contemporary art and architecture into the Italy’s historical contexts. The travel study begins in Tuscany and/or Umbria regions with possible visits to the hill towns of Chiusi, Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico D’Orcia, Bagno Vignoni and Siena. The hill town portion of this travel focuses on ecology, infrastructure and sustainable urbanism and may examine Etruscan walls, Roman cisterns, medieval waterworks, economics and town planning.

The second portion of the travel highlights the modern architecture of Carlo Scarpa and Modern art in Veneto and Venice. Stops include: the city of Verona and Scarpa’s Castelvecchio Museum, the landscape of the Veneto and Scarpa’a Brion Cemetery, Masimilliano Fuksas’ ultra-modern “Bolle” and Andrea Palladio’s Villa Emo; the city of Venice and Scarpa’s Galleria Querini Stampalia and the Venice architecture school, the work of Renzo Piano, Tadao Ando and Santiago Calatrava, and the extraordinary Modern art collections of Peggy Guggenheim and Francios Penault.

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall Quarter 2018 03/10/2018 03/30/2018 TBA TBA