Inside Architecture + Design

One-week, Hands-on Summer Program for High School Students

Important Dates + cost

The popular week-long sessions of inside Architecture + Design (iA + D) have traditionally been offered as an on-campus experience. Last summer, we reconfigured the course to an online experience as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. As a continuation of caution, in the best interest of all participants, we are offering this year’s session of iA + D online as well.

Teaching experiences from the week online last summer and the first-year design studio online during this academic year indicate iA + D can again be successfully offered in a similar manner. Though the course will be positioned away from the immediacy of campus life and the design studio, we believe a comprehensive insight into the way designers think and act can be made accessible and real.

Everyone in grades 9 -12 is welcome.  The course will be offered through zoom, thus a computer with internet access is necessary.

inside Architecture + Design will be held via Zoom from June 21 – 25th, 2021. A brief introductory Zoom meeting will occur late afternoon on Sunday, June 20.

More information will be distributed in the coming weeks.

Please contact Kelly Cooper ( if you have any questions.


inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN is an incisive introduction to the ways in which 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 twenty-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).

studio life

Much of the work is aligned with projects offered in the first year of the design studio of the undergraduate program, and inside ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN students virtually work alongside 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

While the 2021 course will be happening online through the ZOOM platform, we will provide glimpses into aspects of campus. Students will be exposed to a number of collaborative digital tools that allow the development of community and interaction between students as they work through a series of design exercises, lectures, discussions, and tutorials.

course content

The course is divided into two sessions involving studies of materials and processes 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 formulating new visions and the richness of ambiguity through conceptual thinking. Additional hands-on projects engage more rational objectives of the design. Operating from a different virtual studio environment, students learn first-hand the potentials and limitations of teamwork and collaboration.

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 fieldwork 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 2002, 2005, and 2010 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.

Dr. Nathan King is a Co-Director of the Center for Design Research (CDR) at Virginia Tech where he teaches courses related to Design Technology and Social Impact and design studios in Architecture and Industrial Design programs. King is Senior Industry Engagement Manager for the Autodesk Technology Centers where he develops research collaborations between Industry, Design Practice, and Academia. In practice, Nathan works to apply advanced technologies in resource-limited settings for the production of healthcare and education infrastructure and was recently appointed as National Healthcare Infrastructure Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Zambia.


The fee for the week-long course is $280.

Click here to register


  • 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: More information will be forthcoming
  • Laptop/Cellphones: A computer with internet access is necessary as the sessions will be held via Zoom.
  • Supply List: A supply list will be provided closer to the program date. Mentioned on the supply list is a matt knife with a snap-off blade; this is an example, only one knife is needed and any brand is fine.
  • Unable to attend the entire week: Please know you will get the most out of the week if you are there from start to finish. However, this is your camp and your time, so if you need to log 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.
  • Behavior: One of the goals of Architecture + Design is to give participants the experience of a college design student at Virginia Tech in the studios. This offers a freedom that requires personal responsibility at all times. It is expected that participating students will behave in a mature and professional manner.
  • Refund Policy: The deposit will be refunded if withdrawal occurs three weeks before the start of the course, May 31st, 2021.

2020 VTNews article about inside Architecture + Design

2017 VTNews article about inside Architecture + Design