The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is once again hosting its Alberti Program: Architecture for Young People, in partnership with PGAV Destinations and The Divided City, an urban humanities initiative. Taking place on WashU’s Danforth campus in June, the program offers students in elementary and middle school a hands-on exploration of architecture and design.
During the four-week program, youth learn from WashU faculty and current students in a day camp environment. This year, Assistant Professor Kelley Van Dyck Murphy — project lead on the recent downtown sculpture installation “Flora Field” — will lead the program, and current graduate and undergraduate students will help teach. Participants will develop a variety of skills and perspectives, including 3D-modeling techniques; an understanding of scale, spatial order, landscape and natural phenomena in the design process; and an ability to speculate through a critical and fruitful design process. They also take a handful of fieldtrips to architecturally significant sites in St. Louis, and visit longtime program partner PGAV Destinations, a downtown firm that designs tourist attractions.
To show off their new skills, students present their work at a final exhibition. Family and friends can get a close-up view of models their children have been working on for so many weeks. Last year, one student shared that the program encouraged them “to be careful, think out of the box, and be creative — how to build with [their] own thinking.”
The Alberti Program is coordinated by the school’s Office for Socially Engaged Practice. “We really see this as a program to get students from a variety of backgrounds interested in architecture, design, and higher education,” said Emily Coffman, curriculum and outreach coordinator for the office. “For some of these students, it’s the first time they’re interacting with a university campus, the first time they’re really considering college as a possible path.”
The program, which has been operating since 2007, welcomes students from across the region emphasizing the need to broaden the diversity of designers. In 2023, approximately 75% of the youth participants were accepted with a need-based full-tuition waiver.
Registration is open through March 1, 2024, for students entering grades 4-9 in fall 2024. The program takes place on WashU’s campus and runs Monday-Friday, June 3-28.
Learn more and register here