The Architecture Class offers a unique alternative to the other, prominent post-graduate Master programs specializing in advanced architectural design. SAC's unique features stem from its relatively small size and the ensuing attention given to each student for his or her personal development as an architect.
Situated in one half of an early 20th-century town house next to the main building of the Städelschule, SAC provides a near domestic setting for the social and academic life of its members. The house offers ample space for each student and sees three to five students share an atmospheric studio space. The administrative and faculty office, the model workshops and seminar rooms are housed on the floors below the studios.
Thus, the daily life of SAC consists bustling studio activities interspersed with numerous collective events taking place on a weekly basis. Visiting lecturers and other guests frequently drop in on the studios, and some of the most memorable visits have included planned or improvised discussion about the ongoing work with these guests. On these occasions the discussion stays very close to the ongoing research and the work of the respective students, and the informality of the setting allows for the student work to be reviewed with an incisive and yet friendly focus.
The small size of the program produces an intense and intimate setting that is different from any other, comparable program. This environment is not only the result of unique scholars, academics and professionals coming by; first of all, it results from SAC members spending a vast amount of time in their respective studios and the building. The life of SAC is a 24/7 pulse of energy.
The teaching in SAC is much like in comparable programs; it consists of seminars and lectures, project reviews and desk crits. Yet, SAC offers an additional dimension to this pedagogical agenda: SAC presents the ultimate personal setting for motivated students to develop and excel in relation to current, international concerns in architecture based on individual talents and abilities. Part of this is the informal setting and the many conversations that take place throughout the building or in the Städelschule at any odd time. Or, in the words of SAC's former dean, Sir Peter Cook: "The Städelschule Architecture Class (is) small, perfectly formed, concentrated and genuinely international." This "perfect" form revolves first of all around the personal relations that are formed in SAC - between students, between students and teachers as much as between students and visitors.
SAC's activities and program is part of the larger program of the Städelschule. This includes an extended lecture and event series on art, architecture and related topics, various workshops and seminars and an exhibition program. The latter centers on the world-famous gallery, Portikus, which is located in a separate building on an island on the river, Main, a ten minute walk from the school.
The small Städelschule campus is adjacent to the Städel Museum, one of Germany's best art historical museum, and only three hundred meters away from the picturesque Main riverside. The area on the south-side of the river hosts a large range of museum, including the German Architectural Museum which provides a substantial lecture and exhibition program supplementing that of SAC. Additional programs are provided by the other museums and - not the least, the Frankfurt Fair, and add to the vibrant atmosphere the city.
Frankfurt, with its almost 700.000 people and an influx of 300.000 commuters on work days, is one of Germany's central cities. Its history as one of Europe's most important trade and infrastructural nodes spans centuries back. For this reason, the city combines its modest size with an intense international quality and supplies the Städelschule and SAC with a fertile context for research and work.