Inside Architecture + Design
One-week, Hands-on Summer Program for High School Students

inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN is a week-long experience for high school students who are curious about the world of design. High school students entering grades 10-12 can participate in this hands-on summer program to discover what it might be like to study architecture and design, and, in the process, learn more about university life.

inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN 2019 will be offered June 23rd through June 28th and July 7th through 12th. Participants generally arrive Sunday afternoon for an optional introductory lecture. Classes start Monday morning and conclude at 3:30 pm on Friday.

Please note – We will only be accepting rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders this year.

June 2019 is now full, sign up for the waitlist here – Register Here for the July Session


inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN is an incisive introduction into the ways designers think and work. For individuals considering the world of design, this program cracks open the excitement and opportunities of architecture and related design disciplines. Primarily a hands-on experience, students work with long time educators and practitioners in exercises designed to stimulate discussion and discovery of issues affecting the professions. No prior course or subject experience is necessary, just the initiative to break the bounds of conventional modes of thinking.

Over its fifteen year history, the course has been refined and amplified to give high school students one of the best week-long experiences of architecture and design. Faculty learn with the students and adjust coursework based on discoveries from each successive class. The course is modeled around the curriculums of the nationally ranked programs in the School of Architecture + Design (architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture).

university life

The course is designed to give participants an intense look into the university setting and the workings of the design studio. Students live and dine in college facilities and cross the campus lawn each morning from the dormitory to the studios in the architecture building. Much of the work is aligned with projects offered in the first year of design studio of the undergraduate program, and inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN students work along side students enrolled in the summer design studio.

Though the design fields are professional disciplines, the tenants of the curriculum are anchored in the belief of design as a way of life. A brief glimpse of the philosophical underpinnings of the educational studio experience can be found at Dunay-Inform1-09.pdf

see video

course content

The course is divided into two design sessions – a day studio and an evening studio. The day session involves studies of materials and process leading to the development of form, and model building as means to explore spatial conditions. Working with various materials and organizational principles, a basic understanding of design is linked to contemporary works of architecture and the related fields of industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture. Here students explore the intuitive, problem framing modes of design. Emphasis is placed on formulation new visions and the richness of ambiguity through conceptual thinking, including:
  • The relationship between form and material
  • The implications of form by exploring cube, sphere, tower and city
  • The resolution of competing criteria through the application of rule, sequence, evolution and unity

The evening studio engages a more rational objective of design. Its initiation is problem solving, but the ultimate goal is the formulation of structure as an efficient and beautiful entity. Operating from a different studio environment, students learn first hand the potentials and limitations of teamwork and collaboration. This is a hands on project that yields immediate empirical feedback while testing the complexity of judgement.

the instructors

Donna Dunay, FAIA, is G. T. Ward Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech and Chair of the International Archive of Women in Architecture. She has conducted extensive research and field work concerning patterns of development and community structure. Her work has been recognized with three statewide Excellence in Architecture Awards from the American Institute of Architects and a Distinguished Planning Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Robert J. Dunay, FAIA, ACSA Distinguished Professor is Director of the Center for Design Research. A generalist in pedagogy and practice, his work and interests have ranged from planning and architecture to graphics and product design. He served as a primary faculty advisor for the 2002, 05 and 10 Virginia Tech entries in the Solar Decathlon Competition sponsored by the Dept. of Energy. LumenHAUS, the most recent project, won the Solar Decathlon-Europe Competition in Madrid, Spain. Other contributions include testimony before Congress regarding national energy issues, the design of a house for the TV show Extreme Makeover/Home Edition.


We will only be accepting rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders this year.

2019 Information:

June 23-28, 2019 or July 7-12, 2019

June 2019 is now full, sign up for the waitlist here – Register Here for the July Session (still open through June 21st!)

The registration fee is $590, with a $90 non-refundable deposit required with registration and a final payment of $500 due by May 1st.

At a separate cost, Dorm & Meals – due June 1st:

  • Double Room and Meals:  $436.02
  • Lunch/Dinner for commuters:  $125.75
  • Lunch Only:  $56.60

Lunch only is for lunch Monday through Friday
Meals begin with dinner on Sunday and end with lunch Friday
Dorm rooms are for the nights of Sunday through Thursday

A link to pay for registration will be available on the page after registration is submitted as well as emailed to you to confirm registration.Email Taylor Cupp ( if you have any questions.

Refund policy: The $90 deposit is non-refundable. The remaining $500 is refundable until May 1st, the room/meal options are refundable until June 1st.

Privacy Statement

School of Architecture + Design
Virginia Tech
1325 Perry Street, 201 Cowgill Hall
Blacksburg, VA, USA



  • Transportation to and from Virginia Tech: All transportation is up to the student/families to get to Virginia Tech. The program does not provide any transport on or off campus. The closest airport is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. You can contact the airport to set up transportation to Virginia Tech from there — or services like Uber and Lyft are available. On days other than Sunday, the Smart Way Bus runs to/from Roanoke/Blacksburg.
  • Scholarship/Financial Aid: We’re unable to provide financial support from the program. We try and keep the cost as low as possible. In the past, participants have found local companies to sponsor their fee to the program, and if that is the case, we’re more than happy to work with them to get the payment through.
  • A general schedule: This is a basic day – breakfast in the dining hall, studio starts at 10:00am, lunch break, studio 1-5, dinner break, studio 7-9, then back to the dorms. Friday there is an exhibition and should be finished by 3pm when you can check out of the dorms.
  • Dorm/Meal Questions: Can be directed to Conference and Guest Services, bed linens and towels will be provided – you’re welcome to bring extra/your own, 24/7 check in can be found at New Hall West, Suite 134 if you arrive early/late or are leaving early.
  • What to wear: Check the forecast, wear what is comfortable for you
  • Laptop/Cellphones: You’re welcome to bring laptops/cellphones though they’re not required for the course. Wifi information will be given out by Conference and Guest Services at check-in
  • Supply List: A supply list will be provided closer to the program date. Mentioned on the supply list is a matt knife with snap off blade this is an example, only one knife is needed and any brand is fine. If you have trouble finding items on your list or are unable to fly with the items feel free to ship it to our office ahead of time (Attn: Taylor Cupp, 1325 Perry Street, 201 Cowgill Hall (0205), Blacksburg, VA 24061) and make sure it is clearly labeled who the supplies are for or there is a local supply store that will have most of what is on the list that you’ll be able to pick up items on Sunday (1pm-5pm) called Mish Mish.
  • Local Hotels: The closest hotel to Cowgill Hall is the Inn at Virginia Tech. There are a number around that same area, a simple search of Blacksburg Hotel should help you find something in the price range you’re looking for. Any Blacksburg hotel will have an easy commute to campus.
  • Parking on Campus: During the week a parking pass will be required. We will provide parking passes for Friday’s exhibition at dorm check in on Sunday. If you’re unable to pick up a parking pass on Sunday, you will be able to pick one up on your way in at the Virginia Tech visitor’s center. If you are a student commuting to campus or driving to campus to leave your car, you will need to use the parking pass the whole week.
  • Unable to attend the entire week: Please know you will get the most out of the week if you are there start to finish. However, this is your camp and your time, so if you need to leave early or come in late for any reason, just let us know ahead of time so we can know when to expect you or know that you’re planning on leaving early.
  • Wait list: Students are let in off the wait list as they were registered on it. You will be contacted if a spot becomes available, typically spots do not open up until after the final payment deadline has past and students decommit. If it is after the payment deadline (May 1st) you will be required to pay the full amount within 24 hours of the spot offered. Please do not email/call and ask what spot you are on the wait list, you will be contacted when you’re next in line and a spot is available.
  • Behavior: One of the goals of inside Architecture + Design is to give participants real time experience of a college design student at Virginia Tech – in the studios, in the dorm and dining facilities as well. This offers freedom that requires personal responsibility at all times while on campus. It is expected that participating students will behave in a mature and professional manner.
  • Supervision: Studio time generally runs from 10am to 9pm. Students should return to the dorm at night when the evening session is finished. inside Architecture + Design staff members will be staying in the dorms to respond to emergencies or other issues that may arise. They do not serve as monitors checking rooms or the coming and goings of students. Behavior infringing on others well being or compromising the intent of the program is not tolerated.

VTNews article about inside Architecture + Design 2017…