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Academy of Art University Shapes Creative Minds

The Academy of Art University, replaced the Academy of Art College, is a for-profit school founded by Richard S. Stephens in 1929 and is located in San Fransico, California at the edge of San Fransico’s homeless or Tenderloin district., with an enrolment of fifty students. In 1951, his son Richard A. Stephens assumed the role as President. Dr. Elisa Stephens, the granddaughter of Riched S. Stephens and daughter of Richer A. Stephens, in 1992 became the President of the Academy of Art Univerity which has over 12,000 students. Postgraduate students are at least fifty percent of the student body. The urban college also has an online presence. The University students have careers in all the areas of the arts.


Academy of Art University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the National Architectural Accrediting Board and offers masters, bachelors, and associate degrees.


San Francisco’s Tenderloin district of the homeless inspired Academy of Art University undergraduate architecture students to design homeless shelters with the encouragement of their professors. Before working with homeless shelters, students worked on schools and fire stations.


The area for the homeless shelters was bounded by the Golden Gate Bridge on one side which contained nonprofits, soup kitchens, and homeless providers and on the other side, there are tech companies that were changing the neighborhood through gentrification. The goal for the students was to design homeless shelters that acted as a bridge between the nonprofit homeless developments and the high tech companies.


The area for this homeless structure project was to be used as a mixed-use residential building. The students were, therefore, were developing a new concept for homeless shelters using wood.

Before the project was begun homeless people were interviewed to ascertain what they considered were their needs other than a sleeping unit.


As the project developed the students engaged with the neighborhood that served the homeless and met with a landscape architect to better understand the best use of outdoor space. The undergraduate class of students built a neighborhood model with prototypes for homeless shelters.

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