Experiencing Architecture

The University of Pittsburgh Architectural Studies Program is proud to launch a new summer studio for local high school students!

Are you interested in studying architecture or design after high school and thinking of architecture as a career? Are you curious how things are designed and built? Do you enjoy observing the city fabric around you? If yes, join us and build on your passion for making and for imagining the environments and places of tomorrow!

Over the course of the 4-week program, you will be immersed in the various facets of architecture and design. You will develop foundational skills for architecture including sketching, drawing, and model making. You will work on your own design projects, utilizing Pitt’s architecture studios and maker spaces, and get a sense of what it is like to study architecture. You will gain insight into the practice of architecture and related professions through office tours, construction site visits, and walking tours of notable buildings in and around the city.

Pitt’s summer design studio for high school students is made possible by a seed grant from the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. The program has been developed in consultation with various other successful high school engagement and immersion programs, including the highly successful INVESTING NOW pre-college STEM program created at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering in 1988.

For questions about the program, please email Sara Pettit at stp85@pitt.edu.

Group of students at a computer.

Goals of the Program

  • To create a pathway for well-prepared students of diverse backgrounds and experiences to enter college and pursue majors in fields like architecture, art, design, and urban studies.
  • To ensure that participants make informed college choices through hands-on experiences and with access to instructors and mentors.
  • To support and encourage parents in their role as advocates for their children.
  • To coordinate partnerships between Pitt’s Architectural Studies Program and local and regional high school.
  • To improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Pitt architectural studies program and ultimately in architecture as a whole.

Program Details

The summer studio is planned to be held Tuesday, July 6 through Friday, July 30, 2021, from 9am to 3pm each day. It is the intention that meetings would occur on Pitt’s campus, with some tours and visits at various locations in and around the city. All locations are accessible by public transit, or transportation will be offered with advanced parental consent. A day-by-day itinerary will be provided in advance.

In the context of Covid-19, it is the hope that the program will include in-person meetings and tours; however, the feasibility of this will be confirmed closer to the start of the program based on stated policies and recommendations of health experts. If it is not possible to meet in-person, we will develop virtual programming for students to participate in remotely.


The Pitt Summer Architecture Program will be led by architect and Pitt faculty member Sara Pettit, AIA and assisted by experienced Pitt architectural studies majors. In addition, various guest lecturers and professionals will offer a broad perspective on design, fabrication, construction, history, and practice.


Students will be given a list of required materials that will be needed for the program. Work produced in the summer studio will be the students' to keep and can be used as portfolio materials for future applications to college architecture, art, or design programs.

Application Details

Pitt’s summer architecture studio requires enthusiasm, curiosity, and dedication. Applicants should have a strong interest in pursuing architecture or design beyond high school. Applicants must submit a complete online application including an essay stating what they hope to gain from participation and at least one letter of recommendation. Students in grades 9-12 from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Applications closed on March 31, 2021. All student applicants will be informed of the status of their acceptance into the summer studio by mid-April. Please check back for updates for next year. 

For questions about the program, please email Sara Pettit at stp85@pitt.edu.