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Design Immersion Days (DID) is an immersive three-week summer program that introduces high school students to design and architecture. It is intended to inspire curiosity about the world of design, introduce basic design knowledge and critical thinking skills, and familiarize students with the expansive architecture and design culture of Los Angeles.

Throughout the program, DID students are exposed to examples of design and modes of production at all scales, from analog physical building and traditional drawing to multiple forms of digital output—augmented reality, 3D modeling, 3D printing, and more. In the classroom and beyond, participants explore ways of seeing, thinking, and making that are essential for anyone interested in pursuing a career in architecture or design.

In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, SCI-Arc is proud to announce that the DID program will be accessible to students worldwide through a new virtual platform. For summer 2020, DID has been reimagined as a three-week online program that introduces students to architecture as a lively, social, and collaborative experience that captures the collective spirit of DID.

Welcome to DID

“DID 2020 addresses this strange and novel time through a lens of optimism. The theme for this summer is In the Clouds, an idea that explores new forms of creative collaboration within the context of play and fun.” — DID Coordinator Mira Henry

Mira Henry teaching in exhibition
DID Coordinator Mira Henry

Experiencing Architecture School

Simulating a college-level architecture studio experience, DID students create design projects which are developed through one-on-one discussions with SCI-Arc faculty during desk-crits and through collegial collaborations with other students. Students regularly present their work to juries of instructors and peers in discussion-based pin-ups and group review sessions, receiving guidance and feedback that help to jumpstart an interest in the process of design.

A workshop participant with a group project

An Introduction to Architectural Thinking and Production

DID’s curriculum is built to articulate projects within three different formats and scales, from analog models to digital renderings, presenting scenarios in which students are challenged to think analytically, use different tools, and imagine nontraditional approaches to design. Through projects emphasizing visual studies, design lab, and portfolio building, students are introduced to a range of skills essential to exploring, discovering, describing, and producing design work.

DID Final projects


DID students refine a design acuity and hone a visual vocabulary through techniques and tools that include freehand sketching, mechanical drafting, computer drawing, Rhino, Photoshop, Illustrator, physical model making, 3D modeling, and virtual and augmented reality. This exposure enables students to conceive their designs through a mode of production that fluidly moves between physical and the virtual workflows.

Exploring the Design Culture of Los Angeles

Showcasing the robust creative economy of Los Angeles, including the industries of film, fashion, and design provide a way for DID students to make connections not only between creative fields, but the critical professional economic dynamics within the city as a whole.

Students get to know the city’s visual, structural, and cultural context through the lens of those most deeply engaged with shaping the cityscape: prominent architects who call Los Angeles their home. Lunchtime chats bring students in direct conversation with leading architects and designers.

DID participants also have access to private virtual tours of museums, design firms, and galleries during weekly field trips to landmark architectural sites in Los Angeles, including Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hammer Museum, Eric Owen Moss Architects, and many others.

“The DID program does not restrict your creativity with a set of rules. Instead, instructors and mentors help you explore the boundaries of architecture—they guide you through the project process and allow your creativity to build what you desire to make. The best thing that I learned was that architecture isn't only about drawing buildings—it's about the design of the building, how it looks from a certain perspective, how it affects the city, environment, and the people. This program really expanded my knowledge of what architecture is and the design process.” — DID Student Gerson Rivas

    DID final reviews

    Building and Refining a Creative Portfolio

    Weekly portfolio workshops that introduce layout design and material formatting compilation strategies are an integral part of DID, equipping students with the knowledge and tools to present their body of work in a compelling manner. Students complete the program with a fully developed creative portfolio, a critical component in applying to architecture and design schools.

    high school participants being filmed while discussing their project
    High school participants being filmed while discussing their project

    Final Exhibition

    Design Immersion Days culminates in a public exhibition showcasing the work completed during the three-week program where students present their projects to a panel comprised of some of the top architects, critics, and theorists in Los Angeles.

    “DID is not your regular architecture program. We use the idea of design, which is more inclusive and less professionally specific, to draw curious students from different, varied backgrounds and interests to understand and engage architecture through a more diverse lens. Not only has SCI-Arc always been on the bleeding edge of what the definition of architecture is, but it is also one of the best places in the country, and perhaps the world, at fully immersing its students in the most advanced and broad spectrum of digital technologies.” — DID Coordinator Mira Henry

    Design Immersion Days is generously supported US Bank Foundation and Goodwin Family Memorial Trust, and recognized for its excellence at three levels of government—with support from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and the California Arts Council.

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