embARC Summer Design Academy
An immersive, four week summer design program for rising high school juniors and seniors.
JULY 3–28, 2023
embARC application is closed for 2023. To receive updates when applications open for 2024, add yourself to our mailing list.
The embARC program at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design (CED) 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 materials exploration workshop. No prior experience in environmental design is necessary.
Students develop their portfolio for their college applications in any area of environmental design — architecture, city planning, and landscape architecture. Classes include ample studio time, one-on-one critiques, and “live” gallery showcases. Students also go on field trips and design and build a project for a local non-profit organization. Students who fulfill the course requirements receive credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript.
Benefits of Attending
- Explore architecture, urban design, and city planning as possible college majors and careers
- Develop technical and time-management skills through college-level coursework
- Work 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 credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript
embARC students work on real design projects and engage as genuine participants in a process to develop solutions to authentic urban planning questions. The program's multi-disciplinary approach provides a comprehensive framework for "placemaking."
- ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN STUDIO
- SUSTAINABLE CITY PLANNING WORKSHOP
- ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN CONVERSATION SERIES
- DIGITAL DESIGN WORKSHOP
- MATERIALS EXPLORATION WORKSHOP
- COMMUNITY BUILD
Instruction in freehand sketching, drafting, model building, and digital representation teaches students how to conceptualize and communicate 2D and 3D design ideas.
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.
Presentations and talks by invited professional practitioners and CED-based guest lecturers provide a framework for the ideas and methods that support the theory and practice of environmental design. Students are given the opportunity to engage in the discourses of the discipline in guided discussion groups.
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.
Students will explore how a full building physically comes together — from foundation to finishes — through multiple precedent studies and drafting exercises. Students learn how to represent and decipher details, think critically about how materials come together, and ultimately design their own tiny house.
True to UC Berkeley’s public mission, embARC includes an overall theme of civic responsibility by partnering with a local community organization to design a community improvement project. Through this partnership, students employ the tools they learn in the studios, workshops, and lectures to make an impact on authentic community issues. Check out past embARC Community Build projects here.
Ever since joining PYATOK in 2010, Kim Suczynski Smith has been lending her holistic, multidisciplinary perspective and interest in education to our most complex projects – whether neighborhood and campus planning, multi-building affordable housing communities, sensitive mixed-use infill, or engaging in building types new to the firm.
Kim enjoys working directly with communities, across large stakeholder groups, and with high school and university students learning about design in the built environment. She guides PYATOK’s equity and community outreach programs, including our Diversity Fellowship through UC Berkeley. Also at UC Berkeley, Kim teaches an urban planning studio — examining how Bay Area cities, and particularly Oakland, plan for change — and conducts the embARC Summer Design Academy for high school students. Her academic and volunteer work emphasize hands-on, design-build learning, promoting design advocacy, and removing barriers to the profession for disadvantaged communities.
Kim’s recent project contributions include the Balboa Reservoir Master Plan and Blocks C and D in San Francisco, the multi-phase Paradise Creek affordable housing project in National City, and Jones Berkeley Market-Rate TOD on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. She is currently overseeing the construction in Santa Rosa, California, of the Caritas Village Navigation Center, an innovative, three-story health services hub for people experiencing homelessness. The Caritas Center is by far PYATOK’s largest such project to date, and was realized under Kim’s leadership through a highly-collaborative development process involving numerous stakeholders and funding sources.
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