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High School Students Experience Architecture Through Summer Camp

Architecture Camp

For many years now, the Architecture Program in APLA has sponsored an Architecture Summer Camp for high school students interested in architecture and related fields of design.

Paul Zorr pioneered the first camp, which has evolved into two, one-week sessions that are offered through the Office of Professional and Continuing Education’s Summer Experience Academic Camps

The APLA camp is designed to offer the interested high school student a glimpse into and experience of being in architecture school: What it is like to work on projects in studio, from abstract design concepts to more grounded examples of buildings in an urban context or additions to campus facilities; from drawing and model-making to composition and experiential exercises that ask the participant to “think outside the box.”

There are campers who have been told that they cannot study architecture unless they are good at math, but the Camp Session offers opportunities to experience and understand that there are many facets to designing and shaping the built environment, and that it takes creative designers with many different talents who are willing to tackle complex issues and use creative problem-solving tools to arrive at the many solutions that can be achieved.

Some campers will finish the week and say, “That was great! Now I know I want to be an engineer!” So we will have helped those individuals discover his or her passion. And others will say, “War Damn Eagle! I really want to study architecture–at Auburn!”

Some that realize they have an interest in Sustainability and Environmental Design (, and others a commitment to Historic Preservation. Quite a few have recognized their desire to study Landscape Architecture ( or Community Planning ( and Urban Design (

Camp week includes a full immersion in life on campus, living in dorms and eating at The Village Dining Hall, and participating in various activities that use many of the campus recreational facilities. Depending on the current construction on campus, the Architecture Camp may visit an active building site or take a field studies excursion to the Jule Collins Smith Museum.

Architecture Camp always has one counselor who is a student in the Architecture Program, so that during the late night bull sessions in the dorm, campers get to ask all the questions about what the program is really like and get the answers from a peer rather than the professor.

It is designed to be a week of intense and fun investigation and experience of the school studio environment, rather than that of working in an office or the profession after graduation, though these topics are discussed. In the best Auburn APLA tradition, the campers learn to make things with great hard work and joy in the discovery of new knowledge.