Tuesday, January 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Pit, Architecture Building
Carleton University
Learn how to apply. Hear from students and instructors. Discover the exciting five-week schedule.

RSVP at studiofirst@carleton.ca

Want to pursue a career in architecture? STUDIO FIRST will help you create a competitive PORTFOLIO for application to any 3-year Master of Architecture program!

MAY 20 – JUNE 24, 2020

Click here to Apply to STUDIO FIRST 2020

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STUDIO FIRST is a stepping stone to a 3-year professional architecture degree

Did you know that a Master of Architecture professional degree is available to students with an undergraduate major in any field. We have developed a ‘bridge’ program called STUDIO FIRST, to help students who are interested in such a degree.

“The Studio First program was amazing and made me fall further in love with architecture.”

2019 STUDIO FIRST survey response

Program Description

STUDIO FIRST, the first program of its kind in Canada – is an intensive immersion studio for participants with no formal academic background in architecture. The main goal of the program is to allow participants the opportunity to generate portfolio material appropriate for application to the three year Master of Architecture accredited degree.

STUDIO FIRST includes field trips to prominent architectural landmarks in the Capital Region and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, architectural, focused lectures from major thinkers in the theory and practice of architecture, as well as workshops in digital applications, portfolio preparation, and writing statements of interest.

“STUDIO FIRST provided a nice outlet of exploration, through different mediums and thinking. Throughout the program I learned to find comfort in presenting my thoughts and ideas and not solely finished products. By the program’s end, I felt at ease that despite not having a bachelor’s in architecture I was still in the right place.”

2017 STUDIO FIRST student testimonial

Why you should participate in Studio First

  • STUDIO FIRST is designed for you if you have no formal academic background in architecture and want to pursue graduate education in architecture, urbanism, and/ or other design related academic fields.
  • You will get the chance to work on your graduate school portfolio under the supervision of our studio instructors, experience intensive studio culture, and network with like-minded participants.
  • You will be exposed to leaders in the fields of architecture, urbanism, heritage conservation, digital fabrication, as well as, participate in private tours of local architecture firms.
  • You will have the opportunity to explore architecture in the Nation’s Capital City, and participate in an exclusive tour at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
  • Your learning will take place in the Architecture studios and labs at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism on the Carleton University campus in Ottawa.


Zach Colbert and Kevin Tomm

Professor Zach Colbert OAA/MRAIC, Studio First Director, discussing a study model with Kevin, Studio First Alumnus and current Master of Architecture candidate.

I loved meeting so many interesting people and the environment was amazing. As the course progressed I felt more comfortable and inspired. The professors and TAs were all very kind and provided valuable feedback. Overall I’m super happy I enrolled in the program and it was an amazing experience – it really does tell you if you should continue into the M Arch program.

2018 STUDIO FIRST participate feedback


You are eligible for STUDIO FIRST if one of the following applies to you:

  • You have a Bachelor’s degree from a University or equivalent (it does not matter which year you completed your degree).
  • You are an upper year student (2nd year and above) currently enrolled in a degree program.
  • You are an international student who falls into any of the two criteria above.

The application process is the same for all applicants (graduates, undergrads and international students). Feel free to contact us for any questions regarding your eligibility for the program.

Please note: To be eligible for most Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree programs in Canada, you need to have an Honours Bachelor’s degree (or 4-years bachelor’s degree).

Participants who are planning to apply to Carleton’s MArch program are encouraged to visit the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) page for information about the Masters.

I was very pleased with the program. It gave me the opportunity to explore my creative freedom and interest in Architecture. Inspite of not having an undergraduate degree in architecture, Studio first helped me have the courage in persuing a studies in Architecture.

2018 STUDIO FIRST student feedback

Program Cost

Program Fee: $2960 + HST (includes some studio supplies, and access to computer software while enrolled in the program).

Non-refundable application fee: $45

After being admitted into the program, a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the program cost is due on April 9. If your application is submitted and/or processed after this date, the deposit is due two weeks after you receive notification of being accepted into the program. The balance of the tuition owing will be due by May 8 to keep your spot. If you are admitted into the program after May 8, your tuition will be due within one week and/or before the start of the program.

The cost of STUDIO FIRST is considerably lower than the many similar programs in the US.  Coming to Carleton would allow students to experience living for 5 weeks in Ottawa and a studio excursion to Montreal. Please note: Participants will cover their accommodation and transportation costs while in Ottawa. Check the visiting Ottawa website for on-campus accommodation info.

Typical STUDIO FIRST Schedule

STUDIO FIRST Academic Team


Studio First Director, Zach Colbert is an award-winning architect from New York City by way of the American West and is a licensed practitioner in the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. states of New York and Arizona. He is an assistant professor at the Carleton University Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism and is a member of the Ontario Association of Architects, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the American Institute of Architects, the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects and the Urban Land Institute (Toronto Chapter). He was previously on faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and the Parsons New School for Design School of Constructed Environments. His work has been featured in Art Forum, Architect, Architectural Record, GOOD and URBAN magazines and showcased in galleries and museums in New York City, Los Angeles, Dubai, Santiago de Chile, Rotterdam, Ottawa and Beijing. Prior to practicing independently, he worked for SHoP Architects and Bernard Tschumi Architects in New York City. His externally funded research program at Carleton focuses on using architectural thinking to productively engage intersections of politics, infrastructure and multi-family housing within a changing climate.



Adriana Ross was born and raised in Bulgaria and developed a keen interest in design and architecture after moving to Canada. Adriana has been teaching for the last 10 years as a sessional instructor. Her research, teaching and original work focuses on the translation of meaning from past tradition to a contemporary context in a way that incorporates the evolution of social values. Adriana has published and presented papers internationally on matters of the state and future of ecclesial buildings. Her personal work on the creation and preservation of ephemeral structures has been published in the international magazine DOMUS. Through her research and studies she has received several awards and grants. Adriana holds first place and honourable mentions from local and international architectural competitions.

Photo of Mustafa FarukiMustafa Faruki is the 2018-2019 University at Buffalo Reyner Banham Fellow and has exhibited, presented and lectured on his design work at Barnard College, Parsons, the New Museum’s Ideas for the New City and the Drawing Center. Faruki has worked for and alongside a number of New York City design firms and institutions, including Marvel Architects, Supermass Studio, WASA Studio, and the Brooklyn Museum. Before coming to Buffalo, he was a Lecturer in the Asian American Studies Program at CUNY Hunter College, where his teaching centered on narratives of struggle and resilience found in the visual culture of Asians in America. His practice, theLab-lab, focuses on architectures that are instigated by clients such as humor, desire, memory, irony, alienation, humor, vulgarity and loss. Projects by theLab-lab have received support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Drawing Center, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. In 2017, theLab-lab was one of six firms awarded the prestigious League Prize for Young Architects and Designers by the Architectural League of New York.

Piper Bernbaum is an assistant professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, teaching as a part of the architecture program in both the undergraduate and graduate design programs. Previously, Professor Bernbaum was an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, teaching design studio as a part of the undergraduate program in Cambridge, Ontario and in Rome, Italy. Professor Bernbaum received her Bachelor of Architectural Studies (2013) and Masters of Architecture (2016) from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. She received the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada’s Student Medal for work on the Eruv, the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence, and the Canada Council’s Prix de Rome for Emerging Practitioners. She has worked in architectural offices globally, such as Atelier Jean Nouvel in Paris, Sauerbruch Hutton in Berlin, and Kohn Pederson Fox Associates in New York City. Focusing more recently on exhibition work in the architectural field, she was a team member of the University of Waterloo’s submission to the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, The Evidence Room.


Josh Wallace PhotoJosh Wallace holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design Studies from Dalhousie University and a Master of Architecture from Carleton University. Prior to his career in architecture, Josh pursued musical practices as a composer, performer and youth instructor. He plays an array of musical instruments and has performed in multiple musical ensembles. From the beginning of his M.Arch degree, much of his design work has focused on various parallels and intersections between music and architecture, exploring themes on time, notation and spatial rhythms. His current thesis work focuses on acoustics and architecture’s ability to facilitate and produce novel modes of listening to and interacting with environmental phenomenon, and the cultural implications of these modes.

Romano Ian Dayagbil is the research coordinator for the Carleton Urban Research Lab and a graduate of Carleton’s BAS program majoring in Urbanism. In the last year he has been running workshops/tutorials for undergrad and graduate students on digital tools for design/visualization including 3d modeling, GIS, & animation at Carleton and he plans to attend graduate school at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) beginning this fall.

“Over the past month, I have found the instructors for this program very helpful in teaching us the basics of studio and assisting us through our various projects. I have learned a lot through this program that I am sure will be very helpful moving forward into a masters of architecture degree.”

2016 STUDIO FIRST survey response

“STUDIO FIRST had great instructors. Thank you!”

2016 STUDIO FIRST survey response

Follow us on Social Media

For a behind the scenes look at previous year’s program, visit us on:

Instagram: @StudioFirstCarleton

Facebook: @StudioFirstCarleton      @azrielischoolofarchitectureurbanism

Twitter: @CarletonU_Arch

Hashtag: #StudioFirst2016 #StudioFirst2017 #StudioFirst2018

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Email: StudioFirst@carleton.ca

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