Summer Programs

embARC Design Academy

July 7-August 1, 2014

Video: embARC Summer Design Academy

embARC students work on real design projects in a studio environment, and engage as genuine stakeholders and participants in a process to develop solutions to authentic urban planning questions.

embarc Student

embARC is an intensive, four-week summer design academy for high school students held at the College of Environmental Design (CED). embARC brings together students from diverse backgrounds to CED to study architecture, urban design, and sustainable city planning through a series of lectures, field trips and a design:build studio.


The Program

The embARC program is comprised of four components — an architecture and urban design studio, a sustainable planning workshop, a lecture series, and a design:build studio — that together provide a comprehensive framework and multi-disciplinary approach to "placemaking." True to UC Berkeley’s public mission, embARC will include an overall theme of civic responsibility by partnering with a local community organization to tackle an authentic community improvement project. Through this partnership, students will employ the tools they learn in studios, workshops, and lectures to make a difference on real-world community development and design issues.

embARC Student

"This program guided my first attempts to design, model and draft my perception.... I had found a voice and a spunk within me that I did not know I possessed."

Meixi L., embARC Alumna

Architecture and Urban Design Studio

Students will experience what it is like to work on their own design projects in a studio environment. With a locally-based project, students will have the opportunity to make first-hand observations of the area through numerous guided site visits, which will help inform their individual design proposals. Instruction on freehand sketching, drafting, model building and digital representation will teach students how to conceptualize and communicate two and three-dimensional design ideas. On-site observations are supplemented with research in the historic, cultural, political and economic conditions of a project site. The studio will culminate in a final design review, where students exhibit, present, and discuss their work with CED faculty, graduate students, and alumni.

Sustainable Planning Workshop

Students will engage as genuine stakeholders and participants in a community change process by developing solutions to an authentic urban planning question.   Through a series of lectures and group exercises, students will learn about current state and local policies and share evolving ideas for helping cities and regions create attractive, healthy and sustainable communities for all. The students will also take inspiring visits to sites that are nationally recognized models of sustainable urban development to gain a better understanding of the story of "place" and community building.

Lecture Series

Students will examine the history and theory behind current ideas in the realms of urban design, community development and sustainable city planning.  Students will learn how the environmental design professions bring concrete form to abstract concepts and make neighborhoods and cities vibrant and healthy.

Design:Build Studio

Students will learn about construction techniques through a hands-on experience in the college’s Fabrication Shop.  Working alongside trained shop staff, students will build full-sized structures for the benefit of a local community organization.

embarc Presentation

With the mentorship of CED faculty, graduate students and alumni, the studios emphasize the value and reward of working on real-world design challenges. embARC also provides students the opportunity to explore the fields of environmental design, experience the culture of studio, and build an academic and design portfolio for their college applications.

Students who fulfill the course requirements will receive one Berkeley credit and an official UC Berkeley transcript upon course completion. All classes are held at the College of Environmental Design at Wurster Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Classes will meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

embarc Student

Why Should I Attend?

  • Explore the fields of architecture, urban design and city planning prior to college admissions.
  • Hone and develop professional and leadership skills through advanced coursework.
  • Build a design and academic portfolio to use when applying to college.
  • Be immersed in the college culture and experience.
  • Meet peers who have similar interests and work in a team environment.
  • Be exposed to real public policy issues.


  • High school students entering their senior year of school and exceptional students entering their junior year
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • English proficiency (international students will need to submit their TOEFL scores or participate in a SKYPE interview to assess English proficiency)

To Apply

To be considered for the program, you must submit the following by the application deadline:

  • Completed embARC online application with essay
  • $30 application fee
  • High school transcripts that include all grades from 9th grade through the fall semester preceding your application
  • Letter of recommendation from a high school guidance counselor, teacher, principal or community leader

We will review applications on a rolling basis, and welcome early submissions. Only complete applications will be reviewed.


Students living near the UC Berkeley campus may opt to commute to embARC as a day program. For non-local students, it is mandatory that students either secure housing through our campus partner or reside with a local guardian, relative or someone officially sanctioned in writing by the student’s parent prior to arrival. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on housing for the embARC program.

PLEASE NOTE: UC Berkeley's summer residence halls fill up fast. Residency priority is given on a first-come, first-served basis.

"The embARC class was inspiring and challenging, and confirmed for my daughter that architecture and urban design was the right path for her college studies."

Stephanie T., Parent of embARC Alumna

Summer Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the embARC Design Academy is $3200. In addition to tuition, students pay a registration fee through the Summer Sessions office. For details on the total cost of embARC, please visit the cost section.

In addition to the coursework, tuition covers computer lab fees, field trips, some transportation costs, a print card, some supplies and a closing party to celebrate final presentations.

For additional information on UC Berkeley Summer Sessions and room and board fees, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Course Cancellation and Refund Policy

CED reserves the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient enrollment for a full refund, and to withdraw or modify course offerings.

embARC Academic Lead: Kim Suczynski Smith

Kim Suczynski Smith

Kim is a Job Captain for Pyatok Architects, Inc. and offers her instinctive attention to details and problem solving to the firm. Kim uses a multi-disciplinary approach to her practice making the most out of her dual degrees in city planning and architecture together with her strong interest in education.

She joined Pyatok Architects in 2010 with special focus on the participatory design and master planning process for Waterman Garden, a new 250 unit revitalization project for the County of San Bernardino Housing Authority. Kim is often tapped to engage in Pyatok's large-scale development projects helping the team to address a diverse set of challenges---both in planning and in architecture---when designing for low income communities. Her recent contributions to projects include Paradise Creek Affordable Family Housing, Avalon Hayes Valley Market Rate Housing, and Harrison Street Senior Affordable Housing.

In addition to professional practice, Kim has taught planning studios since 2010 at the College of Environmental Design (CED). Suczynski Smith is a founding member and designer with Recess, an interdisciplinary design collaborative and is involved with the Policy Committee at East Bay Housing Organization (EBHO). Kim received her Master of City Planning and Master of Architecture from UC Berkeley and Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo.


If you have additional questions or require assistance, please contact:

Summer Programs Office, College of Environmental Design