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Summer Camps Inspire Young Minds

Three students

Architecture camps were once again held over the summer on campus and in Birmingham at the Urban Studio.

Professor Scott Finn instructed 80 high school students during two sessions on campus. Students were immersed for a week of design investigations in the newly renovated Dudley Hall. The campers participated in the process of learning and questioning that is critical to a student’s success in any school of design and architecture.

The campers sharpened their skills of observation by measuring their dorm rooms, using a unit of measurement based on their own physical being—not the King’s foot, but their own—and then worked on good, old-fashioned lettering exercises, practicing patience and analysis of the shapes and forms of something as familiar—and unfamiliar—as the alphabet.This segued into working with some traditional Bauhaus exercises, and then the design in solid-void/figure-ground of a series of letters using personal initials or names, and again relating the exercise to an understanding of one’s self in relationship with the larger context around us all. These two-dimensional designs were then constructed as three-dimensional models, transforming them into real space, the space of architecture.

These then served as the point of departure for looking at the city and discussing aspects of urban design that recognize buildings as players in making the spaces of the city—the public realm of streets and squares and parks.

Birmingham architect, Andrew Bryant, led the Birmingham Design Camp at the Urban Studio. This was the second year the Studio hosted the camp, which is the only off campus summer camp Auburn offers. Andrew is a 2009 graduate of Kansas State College of Architecture, Planning and Design and has been working with Design Initiative for six years. The Birmingham camp is for rising sixth, seventh, and eighth graders and introduces them to different design concepts and ideas. Each day students had exercises in sketching, skill building, and line and pattern textures. The campers had a client, a local women’s shelter, The Lovelady Center and they worked in teams to create lamps for some of the women. Each client would explain what they were looking for in a lamp, including colors and light intensity, and the teams had to work together to come up with a design and its implementation.

In addition to the exercises at the Studio, the campers also went on field trips to Confederate Motorcycles, McWane Science Center and the new MAKEbhm makerspace. They also walked the new Rotary Trail and did a scavenger hunt around the city looking for different architectural landmarks.

Both camps are provided with two counselors through the Outreach program, and this year they were both rising third-year architecture students. Jonathan Funk and Kayla Bailey proved to be invaluable to the success of the camps. Both of them stepped in to help with Scott on campus and worked along with the TAs in Birmingham. The TAs in Birmingham were also rising third-year students and were extremely helpful in running the camp with Andrew. The four TAs, Robert Sparks Nolan, Matt Giddens, Cassandra Cody and Ashley Mims, were each designated to a group in the camp for the week, working together with the campers on their projects.

Sparks, who is from Eufaula, Alabama said working in the design camp was an eye opening experience and that he was excited to see what kids from different backgrounds could accomplish together through design. Matt, who is from Birmingham, loved the unique opportunity that the camp provided in which he could share his passion for design in the camp setting. Jonathan appreciated the lamp shade project as it not only allowed the campers to design but also to use those design skills to help people, something that really stuck with him and that he plans to carry with him in the future. Kayla mastered the 3D printer on the first day and helped the students with their superhero logo design where each camper designed their own logo that was then put into Sketch Up and 3D printed on the chest of their superhero.

Both camps provided a unique experience for both junior high and high school students on campus and in Birmingham. The camps also proved to be an equally worthwhile experience for the rising third-year architecture students