Design Paris

Students in garden

The Paris Studio focused on learning about the history of Honfleur.

Design Paris, the first semester-long study abroad program hosted by the College of Art & Design based out of Paris, France, launched in the fall of 2018.

“This is not a passive learning experience,” said Robert Holton, program director and associate professor of architecture. “It’s extreme active learning that goes past the classroom. The students gain hands on experience on field excursions exploring sites, studying buildings in person.”

The interdisciplinary program will welcome architecture and interior design students and faculty in the fall, studying buildings and spaces from multiple vantage point. Collaborative learning opportunities include workshops working with French studies, fostering cross-cultural exchange and discourse.

The Design Paris school is located in the Marais neighborhood, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the heart of the city. The city of Paris acts as a classroom in itself, as all studio instruction is supported by field visits to architectural sites throughout the city and region.

Architecture students in Paris courtyard

Living in France for the entire semester allows them to surpass the tourist experience and begin to understand the subtle nuances of the local culture, exploring Europe more profoundly. “The students become citizens of the city, not just tourists,” Holton said.

Students took advantage of the semester-long stay in Europe to travel to other cities as well, collectively visiting over 30 different destinations. These experiences enriched their design education, as firsthand exposure to the built environment vastly expands the learning experience.

“By studying abroad in Paris for the semester, I am not only getting to experience firsthand one of the most popular cities in the world, but as part of the program we also get to travel outside the city limits to places such as Honfleur, Fountainbleau, and Eveux, to name a few,” said Dakota Boesch, MArch candidate in the program.

“Paris is a historic city, and so students are working in an urban setting that is very old,” Holton said. “They address the contrasts between old and new, which is a unique new experience for them as designers.”

Follow the Design Paris blog to see students’ adventures abroad.

Visit for more information about the program.