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Discovering Architecture



JULY 9 - JULY 22, 2023

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.

The 2023 application process is currently full with a waitlist and we are no longer accepting applications at this time.

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
  • Stable Internet connection for video streaming

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: High school students at least 16 years of age who have completed their junior year by July 2023 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!  We suggest you submit your application and deposit by April 3, 2023 to avoid being placed on a waiting list.


Residential Program Tuition: The tuition of $3,450.00 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 

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 Interior Design

Application, Registration, Payment

For consideration, please submit all three components of the application:

  • The online application including the 300 word personal statement of interest.
  • A copy of your recent high school transcript e-mailed to
  • A deposit of $400. Your deposit will be returned if you are not accepted into the program. Upon acceptance, your deposit is non-refundable.
  • The balance of $3,050 (Residential Program) or $2,350 (Non-Residential Program) must be paid by May 1, 2023. A final balance payment form will be provided. No refunds will be made once the program begins.

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