Summer Programs

embARC Summer Design Academy

July 2-27, 2018

About emBARC

embARC is a four week summer design program at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design that brings together high school students from diverse backgrounds to explore architecture, urban design and sustainable city planning through integrated components: an Architecture + Urban Design Studio, a Sustainable City Planning Workshop, a Digital Design Workshop, an Environmental Design Conversation Series and a Community Build project. 

Video: embARC Summer Design Academy

embARC high school student in Architecture & Design Studio

Learn more about:


The Program

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. The program's components together provide a comprehensive framework and multi-disciplinary approach to “placemaking.”

Architecture + Urban Design Studio 

Instruction in freehand sketching, drafting, model building and digital representation teaches students how to conceptualize and communicate two and three-dimensional design ideas.

Sustainable City Planning Workshop 

Students engage as genuine stakeholders and participants in a community change process through site observations, research and the development of an authentic urban planning question.

Community Build Project

True to UC Berkeley’s public mission, embARC includes an overall theme of civic responsibility by partnering with a local non-profit organization to engage in a Community Build project. Students work alongside trained shop staff to fabricate infrastructure and experience the give-and-take that is at the heart of the client/designer relationship. 

Environmental Design Conversation Series

Presentations and talks by invited professional practitioners and CED-based guest lecturers provide a framework for the ideas and methods that undergird the theory and practice of environmental design. Students are given the opportunity to engage in the discourses of the discipline in guided discussion groups.

Digital Design Workshop

Building skills in digital representation, this series of focused workshops prepares students for technology-driven college-level design curricula, while also introducing participants to the latest software and digital tools available in the profession.  


“We didn't really know what to expect, and what we got was our son being treated like an adult, working with kids his age on stuff they had a common interest in, setting goals and reaching them - all  while getting feedback (both positive and constructive) from teachers he admired and respected. The program is fantastic, and I would happily advocate for all those able and interested to apply.”


-embARC 2016 parent


embARC students at Spiral Gardens community partner site


Why Should I Attend?

  • Explore architecture, urban design and city planning as possible college majors and careers
  • Hone and develop skills through college-level coursework
  • Immerse yourself in design studio culture and the college campus experience
  • Work in a team environment with peers who have similar interests
  • Build a design portfolio to use when applying to college
  • Be exposed to actual public policy issues and make a real impact on your world
  • Earn a certificate of completion and 1 unit of credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript


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

Typical Schedule

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am A+D Studio Environmental Design Conversations A+D Studio A+D Studio Site Visits/Field Work/Social Activities
10 am
11 am
12 pm Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1 pm Community Build Sustainable City Planning Workshop Digital Design Workshop Sustainable City Planning Workshop
2 pm
3 pm
4 pm


Students who fulfill the course requirements receive 1-5 units of credit on 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 meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.