Academy of Art University: Rich in History While Embracing the Future

A remarkable achievement by the Academy of Art University occurred this year as they held their 21st annual runway showcase in September of 2017. The show included both menswear and womenswear created by a wide variety of designers hailing from U.S. and international destinations alike. Various fabrics, including some unique advancements in sustainability, were seen throughout the 15 minute show. Organic fabrics and recycled products were also on display. Pieces were inspired from international landscapes and scenery right there in San Francisco.

Although there have been subtle name changes over the years, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California has been open since 1929. The school is no small scale operation, with its distinctions including being one of the largest land owners in all of San Francisco, and its claim as the largest privately owned school for art and design currently in existence within the United States.

The Stephens family has been responsible for the launch and growth of the school for three generations. Founded by Richard S. Stephens, a painter in his own right and a magazine editor, who passed it down to his son Richard A. Stephens, and it was then handed over to his daughter Elisa Stephens. It is Elisa who is credited with the most drastic increase in student population, taking the enrollment from 2,000 students to 18,000 students over a 20 year span of time.

The Academy of Art University is regionally accredited and an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design. In areas of specialization, the fine arts degrees (including both a bachelor’s and a master’s option) are both recognized by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture are accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board.

Another interesting point to note is that the Academy of Art University owns and operates an automobile museum. Aptly named, the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum is home to some of the world’s rarest and most valuable vintage vehicles. In fact, Forbes valued the collection at $70 million. An estimated half of the fleet are owned by the University while the other remain under the ownership of the Stephens family. One of the rare vehicles dates back to before the University was even open: a 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6C.