Experiencing Architecture


The University of Pittsburgh Architectural Studies Program is proud to have launched a new summer studio for local high school students in July 2021, and we look forward to welcoming the second cohort in July 2022!

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, using 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 largely 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 other 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 foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds at the University of Pittsburgh and within the design professions.  

Program Details

The inaugural summer studio was held from July 6 through July 30, 2021, from 9am to 3pm each day. Meetings were held on Pitt’s campus, with some tours and visits at various locations in and around the city. The diverse group of 17 students in our first cohort came from 14 different schools, largely in the Pittsburgh region, and they had different interests, experiences, and backgrounds. Together, they learned about architecture and the related professions, toured Pittsburgh with experts and historians, got their hands on design tools and technologies, and completed an individual design project over the four weeks. You can see a summary of the first year’s activities here.

Partners that engaged with our students in 2021 included Phipps Conservatory, the Fallingwater Institute, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Assemble, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and Industrial Arts Workshop. Professionals included PJ Dick, MCF Architecture, Rothchild Doyno Collaborative, IKM Architects, and Strada Architects.

The 2022 program will follow a similar structure. All tour 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. We look forward to welcoming our second cohort in July 2022! In the context of Covid-19, it is the hope that future programming will continue to include in-person meetings and tours; however, the feasibility of this will be confirmed closer to the start of the program based on stated University policies and recommendations of health experts.

We look forward to welcoming our year two cohort in July 2022!


The Pitt Summer Architecture Program is led by architect and Pitt faculty member Sara Pettit, AIA and assisted by experienced Pitt Architectural Studies majors. In addition, various visiting lecturers and professionals join as guests throughout the program and offer a broad perspective on design, fabrication, construction, history, and practice.


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. Materials are provided. Access to a laptop or tablet is required; however, please let us know if accommodations need to be made.

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 for summer 2022 will open in January 2022. All student applicants will be informed of the status of their acceptance into the summer studio by mid-April. Please check back for updates as we approach the new year. 

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