Professional Studio Program (Fall, Winter or Spring)

Contact Information

Faculty Coordinators
Margot McDonald,

Staff Coordinator
Arlene Gomez,, 001 (805) 756-1316


A Professional Studio consists of a fourth year design studio plus co-op experience that is a collaboration between the Architecture Department and an architectural firm. The Professional Studio immerses students in the life of an office and provides a design experience rich in the knowledge, constraints, and processes that inform and shape a firm's work. Participation in a professional studio is open to all fourth year students in good academic standing.
Download the Professional Studio Syllabus (.pdf)

Application Process

The process begins each fall quarter after the off-campus information meeting and concludes in May.

  1. Review this Professional Studio Program information page and decide on the quarters for which you want to apply.
  2. Download and complete the Off-Campus Application found on the 4th Year Off-Campus web page.
  3. Indicate your interest in participating in a Professional Studio by quarter and priority on the Off-Campus Application.
  4. Submit the Off-Campus Application.
  5. In January, after applications are processed, there will be a Professional Studio meeting for students that ranked the program in their application. At the meeting, the choice of professional studio firms for the coming academic year will be announced and discussed.
  6. Students must submit the on-line Professional Studio Preference Form with the firms they are interested in ranked by quarter. Form must be submitted by Friday, July 10, 2015 by 1:00 PM.
  7. Students must submit a Resume & a Portfolio:
    Email the digital files to:
    Resume & Portfolio must be submitted by Friday, July 10, 2015 by 1:00 PM.

    Name and Contact Information
    Skills: Traditional and Digital
    Work Experience
    Size: 8.5" by 11"
    Total Number of Pages: 1
    Submittal Format: PDF file
    File Name: lastname-firstname-resume.pdf

    Students must submit a portfolio:
    Name and Contact Information
    Size: 8.5" by 11"
    Total Number of Pages: 5
    Submittal Format: PDF file
    File Name: lastname-firstname-portfolio.pdf
  8. Professional Studio placement will be based on your preferences, higher ed cumulative GPA, Resume, Portfolio and firm preferences.

Past and Present Professional Studios

WATG Professional Studio

WATG resort destination image

Design that lifts the spirit --For decades, WATG has been recognized as the world's leading design consultant in the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industry with clients including Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Starwood, Disney, St. Regis, Marriott, Hyatt, and Intercontinental Hotels.  Winning multiple  awards for its designs, WATG operates on 6 continents providing innovative building and experiential design solutions to the hospitality and real estate development industries.  By incorporating a unique design approach and a deep client-focused service model, the firm offers one-of-a-kind full service design services, providing expertise and consulting in planning, urban design, architecture, landscape, interior design and strategy for urban, tourism and resort destinations.  WATG’s unique design approach and service model allow owners, developers, operators, equity and capital partners, management companies, and other hospitality partners the opportunity to collaborate on design and development strategies that unlock new opportunities, create highly successful partnerships and develop inspiring destinations. 

The WATG Professional Studio is held at their offices in Irvine, California. The design project and co-op experience generally focus on the comprehensive design of destination hotels on unique sites. The studio is held two days per week (typically Monday and Friday from 8:30 to 5:30) and the co-op is scheduled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 5:30.

WATG Web Site

LPA Professional Studio

Eye level view of schoolSection through classrooms

The LPA Professional Studio is held at the LPA offices in Irvine California. The design project and co-op experience will focus on the design of sustainable educational facilities. The two images shown above are from the 40th Street East Elementary School designed by several Cal Poly Architecture students in the ARCH 452 Architectural Design studio taught at and by LPA during winter quarter of 2008. The studio is held Monday and Friday from 8 to 5 and the paid co-op is scheduled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 to 5.

LPA Web Site


Collage of model images of student design project

The ZGF Professional Studio is held at the ZGF offices in Los Angeles, California. The design project and co-op experience will focus on the comprehensive design of a research facility. The collage of images shown above are from the J. Craig Venter Synthetic Biofuel and Bioenergy Facility designed by Sandra Kovacs-Birkas, Corey Kawamoto and Julia Arria in the ARCH 451 Architectural Design studio taught at and by ZGF during fall quarter of 2009. The studio is held two days a week from 8 to 5 and the paid co-op is scheduled for three days a week from 8 to 5.

ZGF Web Site

Gensler Professional Studio

The Gensler Los Angeles Co-Op studio is set up as a laboratory to investigate various aspects of urban life in Los Angeles.  Each year, the studio problem is structured around two components: a focused topical research project and a speculative design project that is built around that research.  Sample projects include: SLO Project 2011, Network_LA Transit, and Explore Your Curiosity.  Both the research and design projects leverage the vast resources of Gensler's global network of expertise.  In the Los Angeles office alone, expertise on various building typologies are represented from Airports and Transportation, to Hotels, Retail complexes of various scales, Office buildings, Sports complexes, Educational facilities, Interior workplaces, Urban Planning, and Brand Design.  Each intern works within a studio and is able to participate as a team member on projects in any of the above typologies.  Residing in their newly opened landmark office in downtown (pass: ‘gensler’), Gensler Los Angeles provides all interns with complete access to their entire facility including an extensive materials/samples library and model shop, which includes both digital and traditional wood shop fabrication equipment.

Gensler ‘Ideas’ Books
User: CalPolySLO
Pass: Gensler1

Gensler Web Site

AECom Professional Studio

AECOM is driven to create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments.  They bring life to the projects, cities and communities in which they work.  They strive to build innovation in all of their work and bring value to their clients and communities.

Their designers shape the world around us.  Their LA studio works on a wide range of building types that include corporate, educational, cultural, research, justice, and transportation facilities. Each of their projects provides a unique opportunity to impact public space and shape the urban experience.  Their design process is based on meeting the client’s vision, while identifying unseen opportunities.  Their work is grounded in energy-efficient building systems, and responsive design solutions that maximize user comfort, client flexibility, environmental conditions and long-term performance, while generating iconic imagery. They welcome you to share their passion and experience a supportive environment that allows you to grow and succeed.

AECom website

Roesling Nakamura + Terada Architects Professional Studio

Overall view of study model of classroom buildingsSection through administration building and site swale

The RNT Professional Studio is held at the their offices in San Diego, California. The design project type will vary each quarter. The two images above are from the Carlsbad High School designed by the student team of David J. Pearson, Guilllermo Perez, Dennise Martinez and Mikaela Spielman. A book describing the project is on the Architecture Department's Publications web page. The studio is held Monday and Tuesday from 8 to 5 and the paid co-op is scheduled Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 to 5.

RNT Web Site

Estimated Program Costs

The following is an estimate based on the experience of previous students. Personal expenses vary and depend upon your habits. The costs are similar to studying in here in San Luis Obispo. Since students are enrolled at Cal Poly, they generally have the same access to financial aid as when they are on campus.

Note 1: Cal Poly tuition and fees are subject to University increases.
Note 2: Please consult with your Program Coordinator regarding housing, transportation, and books/supplies expenses. 

Item Estimated Cost
Program Fees  
Cal Poly Tuition & Fees TBD
Estimated Personal Spending Costs Per Student  
Lodging $1,875.00
Local Bus/Taxi $200.00
Cultural and Event Admissions $65.00
Personal Daily Spending $1,400.00
Total Cost Per Quarter TBD


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