The institute was established to lay a foundation for: promoting studies and creative activities of fine arts in terms of quality; creating a culture of high level of arts through cooperation with industries; and having arts get closer to the public. It consists of four departments to study art theory, fine arts, design and architecture and administration and support offices. Researchers are mostly professors of the School, but experts out of the school are also appointed if necessary.
Art theory department conducts basic and academic researches on arts history, aesthetics, criticism, and exhibition, and is in charge of academic seminars, publications, exhibition planning, and exhibition venue operation. Fine arts department studies: Eastern and Western painting, fresco, calligraphy, engraving, print, and mosaic; sculpture, environmental sculpture, and relief installation; ceramics, glass, metal, and wood; and photography, light & laser, video image, computer, and holography. Design department covers all kinds of design-related areas including visual, product, and industrial design. Architecture department is in charge of architecture, complex, and interior planning & design, feasibility study analysis on facilities, study on historic buildings, and hosting and organization of events.
The institute is currently running the galleries of the School, and publishing
The institute, which started its operation in 2004, was based on Seoul School of Architecture (SA), an educational community created by architects seeking its future direction in 1995. SA, which strived to find a new discourse and issues, felt the need to transform itself from an educational community to a knowledge community. As a result, SA and the faculty of Architect of the School joined forces to establish the UA-SA City Architecture Institute.