Four-week credit program
July 6 - Aug. 2
Two-week non-credit program
July 6 - July 20
For more than 30 years, students from all over the world have come to the University of Southern California's School of Architecture for a taste of college life and an introduction to college level study of architecture and design of the built environment. If you are considering a career in architecture, engineering or urban planning you will have the chance to try out your interests in a studio setting at one of the top architecture schools in the country.
The USC Exploration of Architecture program provides high school students from across the country and the world with an intensive and in-depth introduction to the world of architecture and the experience of an architectural education. The goal of the program is to help students make an educated decision regarding their own career direction while at the same time providing them with a wide exposure to the diverse and colorful surroundings of Los Angeles.
The Exploration of Architecture summer high school program has been conducted at the USC School of Architecture since 1982. During the past 30 years, this highly successful and popular program has grown and developed into one of the most comprehensive and rewarding programs of its kind in the country.
The summer student leaves the Exploration of Architecture Program with an understanding of what it is like to be an architecture student. Students learn about the architectural profession and gain an appreciation for Los Angeles as a place where people live, study and work.
The program is targeted toward high school students who are on the verge of making decisions regarding colleges, careers and life-goals. The program is designed to help that student with his or her decision, and to show by experience and discussion the joys and hardships of the profession. Students receive counseling on many levels from students currently enrolled in the USC School of Architecture, including teaching assistants and faculty. The students will also be advised on how to create a compelling portfolio of creative work for admission to college-level design programs. Students must have completed ninth grade by the first day of the program.
The Exploration of Architecture program has grown in the last 30 years, from a two-week program with 20 students to an internationally oriented program spanning four weeks and accommodating more than 100 students.
In addition to experiencing first-hand the intensive involvement of an architectural education, the students are introduced to the experience of a university campus life. They live on campus in the USC residence halls, eat the majority of their meals in the campus dining facilities and have access to the educational and recreational facilities on campus. They learn what it is like to live with roommates, get themselves to class on time, and deal with a demanding and hectic schedule. The net result is a rich and accurate impression of life on a major urban university campus.
The core of the Exploration of Architecture program is the design studio experience. Students learn first-hand that the inspiration, hard work, excitement and frustration of the design process all occur in the design studio setting. Through this experience, they gain an appreciation for the collaborative design experience that is the core of the architect's educational and professional life.
As part of the design studio experience, the summer students are presented with a variety of design projects ranging greatly in length, breadth and complexity. They learn the unique skills required to work as individual designers and as part of a collaborative design team. The first week's curriculum starts with 2- and 3-dimensional composition exercises accompanied by an introduction to the ideas and vocabulary of space-making at multiple scales. The students then design an experiential landscape in which they consider spatial impact on the human condition. The second week continues this project and then adds a real-world design problem that deals with issues of structure, natural forces and furniture design. The Discovering Engineering Seminar students join them to explore this problem, exposing students to the collaborative nature of Architecture across disciplines. The third and fourth weeks challenge students with a comprehensive design project in which they cumulatively apply all their learning to a single design assignment.
The Exploration of Architecture program would not be complete without the wealth of tours in and around the Los Angeles area. The intent of the program is not only to provide students with the opportunity to design and make architecture, but also to introduce them to the abundance of fascinating and exciting experiences that a major city like Los Angeles has to offer. The Tours take them around Los Angeles to include Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry (1989 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, USC School of Architecture, B. Arch. 1952); Caltrans District 7 Headquarters by Thom Mayne (2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, USC School of Architecture, B. Arch. 1968); Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles by Rafael Moneo (1995 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate); Getty Center by Richard Meier (1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate); Getty Villa by Machado and Selvetti; as well as through numerous architecturally significant buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler, Greene & Greene and others.
Four Weeks of Study
The Exploration of Architecture program endeavors to show students what it is like to be an architecture student, becoming more in-depth and detailed as the program progresses. Each week of the program focuses on different issues, and requires ever-increasing levels of commitment and expertise. Upon successful completion of the four-week program, students will earn an official USC transcript and three (3) elective credits. This credit can be counted as elective credit towards a USC bachelor’s degree or transferred to most other four-year colleges.
Exploration of Architecture & Discover Engineering Bridge Project from USC Summer Programs on Vimeo.