Graduating with a Master of Architecture, Michael Arias in his final thesis project transformed the simple concept of the line into a storytelling narrative, exploring how lines function in architecture physically and metaphorically. During his time at USC, Michael helped host 250+ high school students from the ACE Mentor Program and studied abroad in Japan. Moving forward, he hopes to make an impact on the current housing crisis while developing and designing his own projects.

Learn more about Michael’s journey.

Q: Tell us briefly about your background and why you chose your program at USC Architecture.

I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated with an English Literature degree from the University of California, Davis. I chose USC for the quality and breadth of student work and the talented faculty that drives the curriculum forward. I knew I wanted to come to USC after a one-on-one meeting with our Graduate Director, Alvin Huang. Taking the time to meet with admitted students on a personal level showed me the care and devotion that USC has for its students.

Q: What is the title and short description of your final thesis project?

The title of my thesis is “Archipelago of the Line.” It investigates the creative process by distilling our built world down to the most fundamental element: the line. It was an exploration of how the line manifests both in two and three dimensions and how we inhabit the spaces that line creates. In a storybook-like narrative, the protagonist travels to islands in an archipelago, each island a host to a concept of the line in architecture whether it be a physical feature or a metaphorical circumstance: a path, a barrier, an armature, a tether, an event. The story becomes a glossary of architectural concepts, a reference to evaluate form and order, and a tool to generate one’s own architectural language.

Q: What have been your best experiences during your program?

There are a few memories that stand out: studying abroad in Japan or hosting over 250 high school students from the ACE Mentor Program with our AIAS Vice President Grace Poillucci. However, I think my favorite part about the program are the experiences with the talented and passionate people I’ve met along the way, from newfound, lifelong friends to the professors that have made a serious impact on how I think about architecture and challenge the world around me.

Q: What are you hoping to pursue after graduation?

My goal is to become a registered architect and develop and design my own projects. I want to make an impact on our current housing crisis. I’m confident what I have learned here at USC from both the Master of Architecture program and the Certificate in Real Estate Development from the Price School of Public Policy has given me the skills to make a difference.



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