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Discovering Architecture



JULY 7 - JULY 20, 2024

A Summer Program for High School Students

For two intensive weeks, while living on campus at Drexel University, you'll experience what it's like to study architecture in college. You'll attend classes taught by Drexel Architecture faculty members in studios and labs used by Drexel architecture students. You'll go on field trips to significant architectural sites in Philadelphia, hear lectures by distinguished speakers, and, working closely with an instructor, you'll try your hand at architectural design. Our program will introduce you to this fascinating profession. During the summer, while Drexel architecture students are on vacation, we're opening their studio and other facilities to a group of high school students who want to experience what education and work are like in the field of architecture.

You will visit prominent architectural/multi-disciplinary design offices and meet architects on the job. You'll have a chance to see first-hand the types of projects architects work on, how they go about it, and the environment of an /multi-disciplinary design practice. With the historic city of Philadelphia at your doorstep, you'll be practically living in an architectural classroom. Almost every day you'll explore some part of the city. You'll discover magnificent buildings, squares, parks, and museums. And along the way you'll also see Philadelphia's traditional houses and neighborhoods, learn about its history, and tune into the rhythms of city life.

Our 2024 Application is now live! Please see instructions below on application requirements and how to submit.

About the program

image of student work site model by dautrich
image of student work 3d model by dautrich

The Discovering Architecture summer program has been running continuously since 1996. You'll experience what it's like to study architecture in college. You'll attend classes taught on-line by Drexel architecture faculty members in virtual studios, just like Drexel architecture students. You'll attend lectures by distinguished speakers and try your hand at architecture while working closely with an instructor. Our program will introduce you to this fascinating profession while helping to build your portfolio.

The core of this program emulates the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism’s curriculum in interior design and architecture, employing:

  • The process of design thinking
  • The iteration of ideas
  • Individual critiques with faculty
  • History/theory context
  • Sustainability and systems thinking
  • Drawing and sketching development
  • Presentation preparation
  • Portfolio guidelines
  • Student presentations to professional jurors as they defend their design decisions     

Program format

image of student work site model picture two by edmonston


Design studio is at the heart of the program. Most afternoons will be spent in studio, developing design projects through drawings, sketching and models. We will do team building with cross-disciplinary collaboration to better promote cross-disciplinary perspectives and design ideation.

It is expected that students will spend some evenings at work in the studio as well. We will take advantage of being in Philadelphia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, by focusing on a topic currently relevant to the city. The session will culminate in a presentation by students to faculty and invited professionals. Parents will have an opportunity to review the gallery show at the program’s closing reception.


Students will be introduced to computer design, tutorials in 2D/3D software, including  Sketch-Up Pro and Podium, a three dimensional modeling tool to help visualize and experience space in three dimensions.  Using this latest technology, students will model three-dimensional forms on the computer and see its role in design.

Students will need to bring their own laptops to this program (Please see minimum requirements below).


Lecturers from Drexel's Westphal College faculty and visiting professionals will speak about architecture and related topics. There will also be informal lectures related to studio work.

Field Trips and Cultural Events

We will visit an off-campus destination almost every day. Students will sketch important city buildings and sites, visit museums, architect's offices, and explore the urban environment. We will also tour a construction site and hear from contractors who bring professionals’ designs to life.  An all-day field trip outside of Philadelphia is planned for the weekend. Philadelphia in the summer is alive with music and art. We have scheduled supervised trips to concerts, performances, and/or exhibits.

Special Activities

It is July after all! There will be opportunities to play volleyball in the evenings, see the city of Philadelphia, and enjoy other social events as a group and with students in other programs occurring during the same time, including architecture.

Computer requirements

Minimum Requirement
Device type  Apple computer or  Windows computer
Processor Intel Multi-core with 2 GHz or greater
Memory (RAM) 8GB or greater
Storage 15GB disk space for installation
Graphics Integrated or dedicated with 1GB graphics memory or greater and support for OpenGL 3.0 or higher
Display 1280 × 800 display resolution or higher with 16-bit color
Operating system PC: Windows 10 (64-bit) Mac: macOS Mojave, macOS Catalina, or macOS Big Sur

Additional requirements

  • 3-button, scroll-wheel mouse

General information

image of student work hand sketch by lunex

Faculty: Students will be taught by Drexel’s Westphal College faculty members. In the design studio a faculty member and teaching assistants will work closely with each student.

Housing & Facilities:

Residential Option: Students enrolled in the residential program will reside together in a Drexel residence hall (Separate facilities for males and females). We are located in University City, adjacent to Center City Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and many cultural and historic sites. Around-the-clock staff supervision will be provided.

Non-Residential Option: Students enrolled in the non-residential program will be required to arrive to studio at 9:00a.m. daily. There is an option to either be picked up by a parent at 5:30 p.m. each day or remain for evening studio/activities and be picked up by 10:30pm. Additionally, students are welcome to attend weekend activities at no additional cost. Weekend pick-up and drop-off times will vary.

Tuition Registration

image of student work research drawing by willig

Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors that are at least 16 years old by July 2024 are welcome to apply. Enthusiasm and seriousness about work are the only prerequisites. (15 years old is possible with a strong teacher recommendation letter). Admission and acceptance are rolling, but this program fills very quickly!  To better your chances of not being put on our waitlist, we suggest you submit your complete application (with deposit) before March 30th, 2024.


Residential Program Tuition: The tuition of $3,475.00 covers all program related expenses including:

  • Supervised accommodations in residence halls
  • Three meals a day
  • Classes, seminars, and architectural office visits
  • Supplies and materials
  • Field Trips
  • Use of resources and library
  • Recreational field trips and social events
  • Cultural events and planned leisure activities
  • The opportunity to interact with professional architects and architecture faculty
  • The opportunity to meet other high school students from across the globe who are also interested in Architecture

$3,475 is the early bird rate. After March 30th, 2024, the price will increase to $3,675. Final payments are due no later than May 1st, 2024. If you are not paid in full by this date, your seat will be given to the next person on the waitlist and your deposit will be forfeited.

Non-Residential Program Tuition: The tuition of $2,750.00 includes the following program related expenses:

  • Lunch
  • Dinner if remaining for evening activities
  • If participating in weekend activities: Saturday; Breakfast Lunch + Dinner; Sunday; Snack + Dinner
  • Classes, seminars, and lectures/guest speakers
  • Supplies and materials
  • Academic field Trips
  • Use of resources and library
  • Recreational field trips and social events
  • Cultural events and planned leisure activities
  • The opportunity to meet other high school students from across the globe who are also interested in Architecture

$2,750 is the early bird rate. After March 30th, 2024, the price will increase to $2,950. Final payments are due no later than May 1st, 2024. If you are not paid in full by this date, your seat will be given to the next person on the waitlist and your deposit will be forfeited.

Application, Registration, Payment

For consideration, please visit this link to apply. You will need the following documents for upload in your application:

  • A 300-word personal statement of interest
  • A copy of your recent high school transcript
  • A screenshot or PDF of your deposit confirmation. Pay your deposit here. Your deposit will be returned if you are not accepted into the program. Upon acceptance, your deposit is non-refundable.
  • The balance of $3,075 (Residential Program) or $2,350 (Non-Residential Program) must be paid by May 1, 2024. A final balance payment form will be provided. No refunds will be made once the program begins.

If you have any questions, email


Q: I paid my deposit and I was accepted to the program. I am good to go now, right? 
A: No. If your payment in full is not received by the deadline then your spot is forfeited and someone from the waitlist will be offered the spot. 

Q: Is there someone to manage medication distribution?
A: No. If a student takes regular medications of any kind it will be their responsibility to manage their own medications. 

Q: What can I expect on my first day?
A: If you are a residential student, you and your family/guardian will arrive at the dorm (specific location TBD) between 2-4pm. You will have time to unpack and get settled. Following check in there will be a tour of the area starting at 4PM, opening night catered reception for you and your family, and a presentation by campus security for all students. 

Q: Is there a dress code?
A: Yes, there is. During class time it is expected that students will dress in clothing with no profane language or images, no short shorts that expose buttocks, no mid-drif tops that expose bare skin, and no see-through clothing. For visits to professional offices students will need to dress in business casual attire. There will be a construction site visit and students will need hard toe shoes to attend. 

Q: My student is flying into Philadelphia. Is there transportation between the airport and campus?
A: No. There is no transportation offered by the university. Taxis and ubers are readily available at the airport and there is also the option to take the train that goes into the 30th street station. 

Q: Can my student leave during the program? 
A: Please contact the department in advance if you plan to take your child out of the program (whether it be for dinner or otherwise). 

Q: If my student is residential does the room come with linens?
A: Bed linens can be purchased at the time the final deposit is due. They are yours to keep after the program. 

Q: Is there a gym that can be used by my student? 
A: Yes, short term memberships can be purchased at the Drexel Rec Center. Please reach out to the Drexel Rec Center in advance of your child’s arrival, and be advised that they will still need 2 additional students to go to the Rec Center with them (as the program observes the rule of groups of 3)

Q: Will my student ever be alone? 
A: No. There is a strict policy that students must always stay in groups of three. Whether on a field trip in the city, or if someone is on cross country and wants to run around in the city. There must always be three students minimum. 

Q: How do you assign roommates? Will I know who they are ahead of time?
A: Roommates are assigned at random and you will not be notified ahead of time. You do have the option for a single room for an additional charge.  You will receive a survey via email to opt into gender inclusive housing. More information can be found here.

Q: Do the dorms have laundry facilities? 
A: Yes. There are laundry facilities available on site for your student to use for free during their stay. They will need to provide their own detergent.


Discovering Architecture Summer Program Testimonials

My son participated the Discovering Architecture program. What he has created and achieved in both his architectural design and his own personal growth are inspiring. We are thrilled he had the opportunity to learn and grow in such a nurturing environment. Thank you Drexel. You have fueled his passion.

Very impressive program and outcome. We selected this in lieu of another one because of the very realistic activities and opportunities students were given. Faculty and RA’s were excellent. Thank you!

About Architecture at Drexel

The practice of architecture requires a unique skill set—creative thinking and aesthetic sensitivity balanced with technical knowledge, cultural understanding, and social responsibility, all coupled with the ability to communicate effectively. The Drexel University Bachelor of Architecture curriculum encompasses foundation courses in the applied and social sciences, the humanities, and a wide range of professional architecture courses to prepare students for careers in architecture and related fields. At the heart of the curriculum are the design studios where students are challenged to apply their knowledge acquired from the above disciplines to consequential design problems.

The mission of the Drexel Architecture Program is to pursue architecture as a professional discipline by combining the rigors of the academy with the realities of contemporary architectural practice. The program does this by providing a strong, broadly based curriculum in the arts, humanities, social sciences and the applied sciences coupled with professional courses taught by faculty who reflect the broad diversity of architectural practice today.

Drexel University's work/study program is an experiential-based learning model that complements and provides an alternative to traditional studio-based programs. The Drexel model provides a practical, high-quality education to those students who seek early exposure to daily architectural practice as well as an affordable alternative to students who could not otherwise be able to enter the profession.

General Questions? e-mail

Questions about Curriculum? Call 215-895-6931 or e-mail Ada Tremonte at