Hamilton College, Class of 2018
Discover Architecture program at the Illinois School of Architecture was a highly valuable experience for me. As a rising college sophomore, I decided to take two weeks off from my summer internship position at an architecture firm in Chicago. This was a decision my employer highly encouraged and one that I found to be ultimately rewarding. By the end of the two weeks, I had gained both an understanding of what my experience as an architecture student would be, and a reaffirmation of why I wanted to pursue architecture as a career.
I remember on the first day we were put into groups and challenged to build the tallest standing structure from spaghetti that could support one marshmallow at the top. Not only was this a great bonding activity, but it also encouraged a new level of innovation and experimentation that would come in handy in the next two weeks.
Throughout the program we were challenged to think creatively and abstractly, but also work under strict time constraints. For both of the major projects assigned, we had to translate abstract figures into renderings. Initially we experimented with paper cutouts, each creating our own walls that formed a repetitive, multidimensional pattern (as pictured below). Our second project was coming up with our own three-dimensional cardboard cutouts. We were able to use a laser cutter to produce our shapes. We were then challenged to create a site plan, elevation, and multiple sections to finish by the end of the program. Both of these projects served as great introductions into the basics of creating renderings. At the same time, working under a schedule challenged us all at some points to work under pressure, while still being able to produce high quality work.
Attending lectures and working in the studio consumed most of the day and evenings were always full of activities. We were often able to explore campus; planned events included scavenger hunts, movie nights, bowling, or just playing games; there was also a field trip to Chicago with a walking tour of the skyscapers, a river and boat tour of the city, and a visit to an architecture firm. Meals were served at the dining hall right across adjacent to residence hall, and the School was only a ten-minute walk away. I found the program to be very well-organized, and there was never a moment where I found myself with nothing to do.
All in all, Discover challenged me to learn quickly and question my way of thinking about building, shape and design. Not only did I leave the program with well-formed basic level skills in drawing and rendering, I could finally picture myself as an architect and designer. This summer, I am in a six-week architecture program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and the skills I learned in Discover have served me extremely well.
If you are interested in architecture or design at all I would highly recommend this program. It was a great way for me to test the waters and explore my interest in architecture before committing to it.
Listing of architecture summer programs.