Inside SCI-Arc

Design Immersion Days

A 4-week Summer Program for High School Students

About Cost
Curriculum Scholarships
Dates How to Apply

About the program

SCI-Arc's Design Immersion Days (DID) is an immersive four-week summer program that introduces high school sophomores and juniors of varying backgrounds to the academic and professional world of design and architecture. This program is intended to inspire curiosity about the world of design, help students gain basic design knowledge and critical thinking skills, and familiarize them with the expansive architectural and design culture of Los Angeles.

The city functions as both teaching subject and object of study for the course, as the students become immersed in the visual and structural landscape and its cultural context. The DID curriculum at SCI-Arc provides the students with a unique opportunity to experience Los Angeles through the lens of those most deeply engaged with shaping the cityscape, namely architects who call this city their home. The landmarks, the urban environment, and the world renowned domestic architecture of the city is both subject and object of a total immersion in the how and why of the role of architecture and design in the making of a city. This is a course about the city itself—how it is built, how it works, and how to understand it.

DID is designed to be accessible to students interested in design and architecture to varying degrees—whether to build the foundation for a future career, or to enrich a visual curiosity and design appreciation. The instructors for this program are all practicing designers and architects who conduct design exercises with participating students as a way to both share their own creative design process and help cultivate the groundwork for individual ideas and expression.

The DID educational philosophy is rooted in a collegial interaction between teachers and students in the studio, in the field, and in one-on-one mentoring. The course is broad in its range of discourse but specifically meaningful for each participating student. By the conclusion of the program, the students have received an engaging introduction to the rich architectural context of Los Angeles and will have begun to develop and refine their own distinctive approach to learning about design and architecture.

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Last summer, our Design Immersion Days was a considerable success. Students worked one-on-one with prominent designers and had private tours of museums, design firms and galleries. They learned sophisticated 3D modeling techniques used by our faculty and created models by hand. The studio classes were led by SCI-Arc’s graduate and undergraduate faculty who gave diligent attention to all the student’s design challenges.

Rising Juniors and Seniors are eligible to apply. Students are selected for based on a personal statement. Information regarding the online application process is available below.

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A 4-week, day session program, DID introduces students to careers in architecture and design as they explore how products, buildings, and environments are imagined and made. DID students experience first-hand what it’s like to work in a college level design studio. They are given rare access to prominent designers, learn what the study of design & architecture entails and create substantial portfolios.

Architecture and design live and breathe in both the classroom and the world. DID is dedicated to immersing the student in these realms. Through a series of lectures given by esteemed Los Angeles-based designers and field trips exploring the city of Los Angeles, students will be exposed to examples of design and modes of production at all scales. In the classroom and in the city, students will be introduced to fundamental ways of seeing, thinking, and doing that are essential for anyone interested in pursuing a degree and/or career in architecture or design.

Design is doing and thinking. DID's Visual Studies program emphasizes the doing by introducing students to a range of basic skills essential to exploring, discovering, and describing design work. The coursework covers freehand sketching, mechanical drafting, computer drawing, physical model making, and computer-based 3D modeling. Students are introduced to processes and work flows that will allow them to move freely between physical and virtual realms.

DID Class of 2011 during a field trip at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Design is also thinking and doing. DID's Design Lab exercises help students explore further the things they are encouraged to "see" in the world. The Design Lab is a place where students work through assigned design projects. It is also an approach to the creative process and a design education. In Design Lab, students create projects which they discuss with SCI-Arc faculty in a process of one-on-one feedback. Students also present their work to juries of faculty and peers in a process of discussion-based group feedback, preparing them for the design school environment.

For anyone interested in any field of design or creative production, a portfolio is essential. Every student applying to architecture or design school is required to submit one. The culmination of this program is a one-day comprehensive portfolio workshop, which is designed to introduce beginning design students to the concepts, techniques, and strategies necessary to complete a successful design portfolio.

Seeing: Freehand Sketching, Photography
Thinking: Critical/Analytical Thinking, Non-Linear Thinking, Problem Solving, Verbal Presentation
Doing (by hand and computer): Design Drawing, Design Modeling, Graphic Presentation, Portfolio Layout and Design

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Summer 2015 Session:
Program dates: Monday, June 22—Saturday, July 18, 2015
Application Deadline: Rolling admission (until program is full)

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Program tuition: $3,350
(includes lunch, field trips, course materials and studio kit)

A $350 enrollment deposit is required upon acceptance in order to secure a place in the class. Tuition may be waived for students whose family income requires scholarship to attend.

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Scholarship support is available for students whose family income qualifies them to receive financial aid. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants need to fill out a separate Financial Statement & Scholarship Application and submit to the Admissions Office an official copy of their high school transcripts and a copy of their parents/guardians' most recent tax return, in addition to the required application materials listed below. Qualified applicants will be reviewed for scholarship on a rolling basis starting April 1 until all the scholarships have been awarded. Scholarship applications must be submitted along with the application materials listed below. Early submission is recommended.

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How to Apply

Admission to the DID summer program is on a rolling basis until the program start date of June 22, 2015. Early application is recommended to secure a place.


Application Materials:
– Online application form
– $25 Application Fee
– One-page statement of purpose
– TOEFL/IELTS score (for international students only)
Financial Statement & Scholarship Application (to be considered for scholarship)
- Copy of parents/guardians' most recent tax documents* (to be considered for scholarship)
– Official High School Transcripts with GPA listed(to be considered for scholarship)

*Families who are undocumented or who will not be filing taxes for this past year should contact the Admissions Office for additional information.

If you have any questions, please contact our Admissions Office at 213.356.5320 or

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June 20-July 18, 2016


Tuition: $3,350
(includes lunch, field trips, course materials & studio kit)

Scholarships available; see application or contact us for more details.

Other expenses:
DID is not a residential program; housing and after-class hour supervision not provided.

SCI-Arc Admissions Office


Darin Johnstone
Program Coordinator

Darin Johnstone, a Los Angeles based architect and SCI-Arc design faculty member since 2002, directs and teaches in the DID program along with other SCI-Arc design and visual studies faculty and undergraduate teaching assistants. In addition to its regular faculty, the school invites esteemed local architects and designers to come and talk to the students about what they do and why they do it.