Aria Hill as an inside Architecture + Design participant in 2016.
Aria Hill as an instructor during inside Architecture + Design this past July.
Aria Hill as an instructor during inside Architecture + Design this past July.
Student instructors for inside Architecture + Design July 2019. Left to right: Conor Byrne, James Wood, Aria Hill, Hayley Owens, Andy Stepka, Shanice Trimboli, and Nick Coates.
inside Architecture + Design: A Full Circle View

Aria Hill is a rising 3rd year Architecture student, who, in her last two years at Virginia Tech has been an orientation leader, CAUS Ambassador, Hokie Ambassador, Resident Advisor, Finalist in an International Open Design Competition, and now this summer, an instructor for inside Architecture + Design.

11 years ago, as Aria and her mom dropped off her sister for her first year in college, Aria was not interested in going to Virginia Tech just like her older sister, she wanted to “be her own person.” However, after realizing her desire to go into the field of Architecture as a sophomore in high school, Aria found herself being dropped off at Virginia Tech by her older sister to go to the inside Architecture + Design camp in the summer of 2016, right before her senior year in high school.

Attending iA+D solidified in Aria’s mind that Architecture was for her and that Virginia Tech was the place to come study. Aria already knew she was good at math and she enjoyed making things, but wasn’t sure what it meant to study Architecture. iA+D helped show her a small glimpse at what that would be like. Going through iA+D was Aria’s first venture into design in general and getting into the design frame of mind – that her first year design lab at Virginia Tech would include open-ended prompts, and having to grow from that first project into something more complicated. Now two years into Architecture school, looking back, she was much more secure in the first year of study centered in design thinking and knew the technicalities of studying architecture would come in the later years.

As a rising third year, this is Aria’s first, and hopefully not last, year helping with the program. She was the youngest on the student instructor team, with the other instructors already having graduated and/or being in graduate school. One of her fellow instructors, Arian Korkuti, led a wintermester travel trip around the Northeastern states that Aria attended, and he ended up recruiting her to join the team. Arian was also an instructor back when Aria went through as a high school student and another fellow instructor, James Wood, was her assigned instructor back in high school. Aria said she really enjoys now teaching alongside those who taught her, the other student instructors, and faculty leads, Bob and Donna Dunay.

Aria has really enjoyed being an instructor. Having a unique view of teaching, remembering the time she went through the program a few years ago, and now having two years of design school under her belt, she really understands the projects of iA+D a lot better and the logic of what they’re asked to do in the program. Some of that was lost on her as a high school student, and she saw that in the current students this year as well, but really enjoyed seeing their growth in just five days.

Getting encouragement from her 2nd year lab professor, Katie MacDonald, Aria was told going from student to instructor back to being a student will really help her in her future studies. Taking a step back and looking at an overall perspective as well as guiding others with design will get Aria a full circle view going into her 3rd year. Should Aria be available next summer, she hopes to be an instructor again for inside Architecture + Design 2020.

Currently enrolled in the School of Architecture + Design, there are over 80 past participants from inside Architecture + Design. Andy Stepka, who graduated with his B.Arch. this past May, was a 2013 participant of inside Architecture + Design and was also an instructor this summer.

Aria Hill as an instructor during inside Architecture + Design this past July.
Aria Hill as an instructor during inside Architecture + Design this past July.
Student instructors for inside Architecture + Design July 2019. Left to right: Conor Byrne, James Wood, Aria Hill, Hayley Owens, Andy Stepka, Shanice Trimboli, and Nick Coates.