At the USC School of Architecture, our goal is to educate Citizen Architects. Our core values are centered around equality and social justice, and the belief that through architecture, we can collectively enrich basic human existence. The USC A-LAB Architecture Development Program is a rigorous and immersive academic experience for Los Angeles Unified high school juniors. Launching in fall 2021, this first-of-its-kind program in California will provide an engaging, supportive, and empowering experience for students of all identities that instills competence and confidence and provides a pathway for interested students to enter the design professions.
Students who participate in A-Lab will receive ongoing academic support after the semester-long program to help them achieve their goals of pursuing architecture and related design disciplines at the college level. USC Architecture will offer mentoring and resources to help students apply to college, earn admission, and successfully matriculate through college-level architecture and design degree programs.
The A-Lab Program is taught primarily through a series of studio architecture projects, which build upon each other conceptually and technically as the weeks progress. Each design project emphasizes architecture’s role in shaping culture and community; empowering and claiming civic space for the public good. Every project will have multiple phases of development. Projects will look at real-world issues happening throughout greater Los Angeles, including social issues that affect our local communities.
Each semester, a cohort of junior-year high school students will meet for three hours per day, five days a week, and receive high school credit as well as USC course credit. They will also complete a Career and Technical Education Pathway in Architecture.
The program has three major components:
- Studio Architecture: Project-based work examining architecture’s role in shaping culture
- WorkOut: A course module on professional development and exposure
- NetworkU: A course module on college preparation and college application preparation
Each student will be assigned a personal laptop and gain exposure to design and visual representation software such as Rhinocerous 3D and Adobe Creative Suite.
Students interested in architecture, urban design, visual arts, social practice design, landscape architecture, media/technology, or public policy are encouraged to apply. Admitted students will develop an aptitude for design and hone their creative and technical skills while preparing to enter a college curriculum. To apply, students must attend one of our partner high schools and submit:
- High school transcript
- Attendance record
- Statement of interest
- Recommendation letter from a teacher or principal
- Signed attendance contract committing to the program
Acceptance into the program is based on the following criteria:
- High scholastic ability, 3.0 + GPA recommended
- Successful completion of geometry high school course(s)
- Interest in architecture, design and the built world
- High level of curiosity and commitment
- Intent to pursue an undergraduate degree at a university
We are proud to launch our partnership with Foshay Learning Center in 2021. We are also actively working with other local Los Angeles Unified schools to expand this opportunity to more students in the future.
Ernesto and Socorro Vasquez, SVA Architects
Gary Handel, Managing Partner, Handel Architects
Jim House (B.Arch '81), Principal, House & Robertson Architects, Inc.
Jon Mills (B.Arch '85), Chief Operating Officer, LPA
Los Angeles Unified
MADWorkshop, Mary & David Martin
Simon Chiu (B.Arch '96, MRED '05)
Syska Hennessy Group
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners
USC Architectural Guild
Victor MacFarlane, Chairman & CEO, MacFarlane Partners
This program is supported (in part) by the USC Good Neighbors Grant Program funded by university employee contributions to support university-community partnership.