Twenty-first cen­tury Berlin is a dynamic palimpsest of its dis­rupted his­tory, one that is actively unfold­ing as the city and the Ger­man state attempts to res­ur­rect Berlin’s pres­ence as a global cap­i­tal. It has oscil­lated from being a global intel­lec­tual and artis­tic cen­ter, to a mar­gin­al­ized urban hostage of polit­i­cal divi­sions, and back to the gov­ern­men­tal and exis­ten­tial cen­ter of a uni­fied Germany.

Berlin is a city of rad­i­cal archi­tec­tural and urban trans­for­ma­tions. As a result, Berlin’s urban form is a col­lage of con­tra­dic­tory urban types, such as the nine­teenth cen­tury mon­u­men­tal­ity, the post-war cap­i­tal­ist devel­op­ments of West Berlin, the com­mu­nist hous­ing blocks of East Berlin, and the late twen­ti­eth and early twenty-first cen­tury recon­struc­tions of a uni­fied Berlin. No ter­ri­tory in Berlin is neu­tral: each build­ing, mon­u­ment, street, and dis­trict of the city embod­ies part of its volatile urban history.

Today, Berlin, and all of Ger­many, is a cen­ter of con­tem­po­rary and sus­tain­able archi­tec­ture and urban­ism. A strong soci­etal and polit­i­cal will to man­date high-performing, energy-efficient archi­tec­ture and urban strate­gies has pro­duced a body of con­tem­po­rary prece­dents that has become the bench­mark for sus­tain­able design glob­ally. Addi­tion­ally, sus­tain­able archi­tec­tural and urban design has proven to be a pow­er­ful sym­bol for a newly uni­fied Ger­many as a pro­gres­sive, respon­si­ble, and pros­per­ous state.


Berlin is an ideal lab­o­ra­tory for study­ing the design of urban inter­ven­tions, the his­tory of nine­teenth, twen­ti­eth and twenty-first cen­tury archi­tec­ture and urban­ism, and cut­ting edge strate­gies for cre­at­ing sus­tain­able envi­ron­ments. The Berlin Pro­gram is inte­gral to the sequen­tial cur­ricu­lum of the School of Archi­tec­ture. This is a required semes­ter abroad for all third-year archi­tec­ture stu­dents and M.Arch I grad­u­ate stu­dents. Stu­dents take a full four-course load of archi­tec­ture stu­dio, lec­ture, sem­i­nar and Ger­man lan­guage courses. The semes­ter includes addi­tional lec­tures and office vis­its with some of Berlin’s thought lead­ers on his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary archi­tec­tural and urban issues.

The Berlin Pro­gram pro­vides a superb abroad expe­ri­ence that bal­ances a well struc­tured cur­ricu­lum with indi­vid­ual inde­pen­dence to pro­vide the most com­pre­hen­sive study abroad expe­ri­ence. The pro­gram orga­nizes the inter­na­tional flights, stu­dent hous­ing, the full-four course cur­ricu­lum, and a full array of day, overnight, and week-long field trips to the most impor­tant archi­tec­tural and urban sites in Berlin and all of Ger­many. Stu­dents have the options of liv­ing in shared stu­dent apart­ments or home-stay hous­ing with Berlin fam­i­lies to pro­vide an immer­sive cul­tural expe­ri­ence. Stu­dents will also have exten­sive inde­pen­dent time to explore Berlin, Ger­many, and Europe on their own.


Please com­plete the online OISP appli­ca­tion and sub­mit an offi­cial tran­script and pho­to­copy of your pass­port ID page to 403 Richards Hall by March 1 for Fall and Octo­ber 1 for Spring. You can also upload the pass­port copy to the online application.

You will also be required to com­plete the forms requested by the pro­gram over­seas; how­ever, those are not avail­able at this time. Once we receive these forms, OISP will notify you and send you the documents.


The cost of your pro­gram is TBD until North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity con­firms the annual tuition; for under­grad­u­ate stu­dents, this will include NU tuition for 16 cred­its, housing, International SOS Assis­tance, and ISIC card. Flights and meals are not included.


All stu­dents will be required to secure a stu­dent visa. Depend­ing on your nation­al­ity, you may be required to obtain the visa prior to arrival or in coun­try. Inter­na­tional stu­dents will need to secure a visa prior to arrival; U.S. pass­port hold­ers will secure their visa after a few days of arrival. Although this is case, there are a num­ber of doc­u­ments that will need to be com­pleted prior to arrival and be sent to the insti­tu­tion we will be work­ing with to start the process.  Please note that OISP will pro­vide nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion to all inter­na­tional stu­dents to obtain the visa; how­ever, ulti­mately, visa obtain­ment is a student’s respon­si­bil­ity. Addi­tion­ally, the pro­gram fee does not cover visa fees.


OISP will host pre-departure ori­en­ta­tion for all stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in study abroad pro­grams. There will be a pre­sen­ta­tion on flights and the options avail­able to all stu­dents. Please note that in order to receive air­port pick up, you will need to be on the group flight from Boston on the offi­cial departure date.


All stu­dents will be reg­is­tered by OISP for a Berlin, Archi­tec­ture place­holder course. This will show up on your Ban­ner reg­is­tra­tion as P/F until we receive your grades from abroad. Once we receive grades, we will post the indi­vid­ual NU courses and the let­ter grade. You will receive the fol­low­ing credit for your semes­ter abroad: Ger­man lan­guage course (GER­Mxxxx), Design Stu­dio (ARCH3155), Sem­i­nar (ARCH3361), and Archi­tec­ture and Urban­ism Abroad (ARCH3361).


The fol­low­ing is some infor­ma­tion regard­ing the aca­d­e­mic aspects of the pro­gram. You will receive more infor­ma­tion upon arrival.


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Stu­dio will be held once a week, likely on Mon­days, and will last all day. It is manda­tory and every absence will result in a grade reduc­tion. Only med­ical excuses will be accepted.


Besides stu­dio, there will also be a his­tory class and a sem­i­nar. These classes are also manda­tory. The sched­ules for these vary due to excur­sions and vis­i­tors. There are usu­ally no classes on Fri­days, but there are occa­sion­ally excur­sions. In many cases, if there is an excur­sion on Fri­day, there will be fewer classes dur­ing the week. A more detailed atten­dance pol­icy will be included in the syllabi.


You will have Ger­man class at Die Neue Schule every day for the first two weeks and twice a week for the rest of the semes­ter. This course counts for credit. There will be exams and a final grade.


You will receive a more detailed sched­ule upon arrival. Due to the many site vis­its and excur­sions, the sched­ule is sub­ject to change. You will be pro­vided a weekly sched­ule for you each Mon­day morn­ing so you know exactly what will hap­pen from week to week.


Unless oth­er­wise stated, all excur­sions are manda­tory, and absences will only be tol­er­ated for med­ical rea­sons. The optional excur­sions are highly rec­om­mended. We strongly hope you will attend everything.


The stu­dio in Berlin runs dif­fer­ently than the stu­dio in Boston. Expect the stu­dio to be open only dur­ing the week until late evening. It is not pos­si­ble to keep the stu­dio open 24 hours. The semes­ter is meant to not only advance your archi­tec­ture stud­ies, but also for you to expe­ri­ence Berlin, so we do not want you in the stu­dio at all times. There is some flex­i­bil­ity on the week­ends, but that will be decided on a case by case basis.


Berlin has sev­eral excel­lent archi­tec­ture sup­ply stores, but be aware that some items may be expen­sive. Small items like glue, pen­cils, pens, and erasers can be eas­ily bought in Berlin. More sophis­ti­cated sup­plies, like a tri­an­gle, met­ric scale, blades, and trace paper, can be expen­sive. Past stu­dents have sug­gested you might bring those items with you.


Stu­dents have the option of liv­ing in apart­ments or doing a home-stay while study­ing in Berlin.



Loca­tion — The apart­ments are located in a res­i­den­tial area in the neigh­bor­hood of Kreuzberg, which is one of the most excit­ing areas in Berlin. It is a multi-cultural area favored by Turk­ish immi­grants, stu­dents, and artists. The near­est sub­way stop is a 5– to 10-minute walk from the apart­ments. It is a 3-minute sub­way ride to Alexan­der­platz, a main shop­ping cen­ter in Berlin, and about a 30-minute sub­way ride from the stu­dio, which is an aver­age com­mute time in Berlin. There are many gro­cery stores, drug stores, phar­ma­cies, and cafes in the area.

The apart­ments are fur­nished, which means chairs, beds, tables, tele­vi­sion, oven, refrig­er­a­tor, shower, toi­let, etc. Dishes and kitchen sup­plies are part of the apart­ment. Lexia pro­vides bed­ding and tow­els. There is no microwave and no inter­net. Stu­dents in the past have coped with the Inter­net sit­u­a­tion by buy­ing portable inter­net sticks that they can use through­out the city.


It is expected that the apart­ments will be kept rea­son­ably clean through­out the semes­ter. There is a land­lord respon­si­ble for any repairs, includ­ing replac­ing light bulbs. It is impor­tant to recy­cle your garbage, turn off the lights when you leave, and lock your doors. You will get detailed infor­ma­tion about apart­ment main­te­nance dur­ing orientation.


There are wash­ers and dry­ers on site. You will have to buy tokens from the land­lord in the morn­ings, and then you can do laun­dry 24-hours a day. You will get more detailed infor­ma­tion dur­ing orientation.


Berlin is a very safe city, but as with all cities, pre­cau­tions must be taken. It will be very impor­tant while you are abroad to always lock your apart­ment door both after leav­ing and upon enter­ing. This will be explained more thor­oughly on arrival day.


There are some home­s­tays avail­able, so if you would pre­fer this option, please tell OISP. It is an excel­lent way to learn more about Ger­man cul­ture and become bet­ter inte­grated into Berlin. If you choose a home­s­tay, you will get more detailed infor­ma­tion dur­ing ori­en­ta­tion. The cost is equiv­a­lent to that of the apartment.

Optional trips are not included in the gen­eral fee and you will be required to pay extra for these if you choose to go.


Located an hour south of Berlin by train, this town is the home of the Ein­stein Tower and San­soucci Palace.


Dessau is the home of the Bauhaus and the Fed­eral Envi­ron­men­tal Agency.


Ham­burg is home to some amaz­ing water­front urban rede­vel­op­ment and deli­cious Ger­man food, along with the Reeperbahn.


A week­long trip the Ruhr Val­ley, includ­ing Dus­sel­dorf, Cologne, Wolfs­berg, and Essen.


Renowned for its innovative architecture and as an important center of sustainable design culture, this region remains a remarkably peaceful and deeply traditional corner of the country.


Optional week­end trip. Prague is one of the only cities that was not phys­i­cally affected by the war so it is still almost entirely Renais­sance and Gothic.  It is home to the Lennon Wall, Prague Cas­tle, the Charles Bridge and great nightlife.

A student-written blog called “Architecture in Berlin” documents the field trips, studio life and social life of students while they are studying in Berlin. Check it out to see images of studio, of the apartments and the highlights of the semester:

Below are stories about specific day trips that the student have done as part oft he Berlin Program.


Writ­ten by Chelsea Brown Class of 2013

Class time in Berlin is divided between lec­tures and field trips. We are given the unique oppor­tu­nity of study­ing his­tor­i­cally rel­e­vant struc­tures, such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum, and then vis­it­ing them shortly there­after. In addi­tion to sites in Berlin we have taken day trips to visit rel­e­vant archi­tec­tural sites through­out Ger­many. Recently we spent a day in Dessau, where we were able to visit two sites that each play a promi­nent role in our respec­tive sus­tain­abil­ity and his­tory courses.

First we toured the Fed­eral Envi­ron­men­tal Agency. Designed by Sauer­bruch Hut­ton, this office build­ing is a lead­ing exam­ple in sus­tain­able design. The organic form, bright col­ors, and ample light pro­vided a pleas­ant con­trast to the sur­round­ing for­mer indus­trial area of Dessau. Our tour guide, an employee of the Agency, explained in depth many of the sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies incor­po­rated through­out the design. In addi­tion to solar pan­els, the build­ing also uti­lizes geot­her­mal heat exchange in the reduc­tion of energy con­sump­tion. The office build­ing also main­tains a con­nec­tion to its sur­round­ings in its use of locally sourced mate­ri­als, as well as pub­licly acces­si­ble audi­to­rium, library, and café.

In the after­noon we were given the oppor­tu­nity to tour the Bauhaus. Con­sid­ered one of high­est points of mod­ern archi­tec­ture, it was an excit­ing moment to walk through the entrance and feel as if we had finally “arrived.” After years of look­ing at pic­tures of the cam­pus designed by Wal­ter Gropius, we were able to wit­ness it first­hand. Our tour guide led us through a num­ber of the build­ings on the cam­pus, as well as into Gropius’ office, in which were sit­u­ated iconic pieces of Bauhaus fur­ni­ture. After words we lined up below the iconic “Bauhaus” sign to have our pic­ture taken, just as in all of the pic­tures we have seen.


Writ­ten by Bill Zahu­rak Class of 2014

The best way to learn about Ger­man His­tory is to expe­ri­ence it first-hand. While some stu­dents were orig­i­nally less than enthused about tak­ing a Ger­man his­tory course, we dis­cov­ered by the end of our trip that the Berlin semes­ter was a once in a life time expe­ri­ence to not only learn a about new cul­ture but to also be in the midst of it. One of the most antic­i­pated trips dur­ing the semes­ter was our visit to a Hertha Berlin soc­cer match held at the Olympias­ta­dion, home of the 1936 world Olympics.

Dri­ven by the ambi­tion of Nazi Ger­many, this sta­dium was built as a demon­stra­tion to the world that Ger­many was a ris­ing global super power. The mon­u­men­tal­ity of the sta­dium and its sur­round­ing devel­op­ment intended to invoke in vis­i­tors the idea that Ger­many pro­duces the best archi­tects and the best ath­letes. Although both the 1936 Olympics and the Hertha Berlin Soc­cer team are usu­ally remem­bered as upsets in Ger­man sports, our trip to the sta­dium is remem­bered as one of our favorites.

After a short train ride out­side of the city of Berlin, we arrived at the sta­dium and were given short a tour of the 1936 Olympic Site. We were awestruck when we real­ized how large every­thing was. From the Olympic Ring tow­ers to the upper roof of the sta­dium, which cov­ers 37,000 square meters and cov­ers 77,000 peo­ple, every­thing is built to a mon­u­men­tal scale we weren’t used to experiencing.

Dur­ing the trip we also got a chance to see Le Corbusier’s Berlin Unité, located con­ve­niently within walk­ing dis­tance of the sta­dium. Our his­tory course cov­ered a lot of ground in terms of both mate­r­ial and field trips.  We found these field trips incred­i­bly help­ful because we were able to learn much more about a build­ing we had stud­ied after see­ing it for ourselves.

What really made the trip for many of us was the soc­cer game itself. Most of us stopped by the sports mem­o­ra­bilia stand to buy some Hertha col­ors and then went right to the food sta­tions and beer tents to pre­pare for the match. Aside from every­thing we learned in class, being in Berlin was a great oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence a new culture.