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UM summer camp takes high-schoolers on an ‘Exploration in Architecture’


School of Architecture faculty member Carmen Guerrero gives a lecture during UM's Explorations in Architecture summer camp.


Filled with curious high school students representing the next generation of architects, the bus rumbled along Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables one recent July weekday, stopping in front of the Mediterranean-style buildings that lined the roadway.

At each destination, Carmen Guerrero, a faculty member in the University of Miami’s School of Architecture and the students’ guide for the day, explained not only the different architectural styles they were viewing, but how Coral Gables “is a great example of a walkable space.” The idea, she said, was to address buildings and structures along with the concept of urbanism.

The field trip was part of the school’s recent Explorations in Architecture program, a three-week intensive summer camp in which high school students from around the world come to UM to take courses in drawing, architectural history, and digital representation; hear lectures by practicing architects; participate in a team design project; and tour some of South Florida’s best-known architectural districts.

“It’s a total immersion into the field, and college life,” said Guerrero, the program’s academic director, noting that students lived in campus housing during the session, which ran from July 11 to 31.

She added that the camp attracts students from all over the United States, as well as Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, who “are about to enter a college architectural program after high school or are thinking about studying architecture and want to learn more about it.

“Right off the bat, I tell them that they don’t have to become an architect. The field is so broad they can pursue urban design, become a real estate developer or an urban planner,” she explained. “We expose them to the different branches that are related.”

Guerrero, who teams with other faculty members to instruct the students, has tweaked the course material almost each year: introducing computers in the design process, teaching the students to compile a digital portfolio, and devising other curriculum adaptations to keep pace with trends and changes in the profession.

“It’s a powerful recruitment tool,” she said, citing a string of e-mails she recently received from campers expressing their intent to apply to UM. “We have teaching assistants who say they only wish they had experienced something like this.”

An exhibition of student work concluded this year’s Exploration in Architecture camp. In attendance were faculty members and several proud parents.

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