The Sam Fox School’s Alberti Program welcomed 32 elementary and middle school students from 15 schools across the St. Louis region to its day camp–style architecture curriculum this summer.
Throughout the program, students embarked on a variety of projects, aided by school faculty and five WashU students who served as assistants. By the end of the four-week program, students developed a variety of skills and perspectives, including 3D-modeling techniques; an understanding of scale, spatial order, landscape and natural phenomena in the design process; and an ability to speculate through a critical and fruitful design process.
They also embarked on three field trips to architecturally significant sites in St. Louis: the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, and longtime program partner PGAV Destinations, a downtown firm that designs tourist attractions all over the world.
The Alberti Program is coordinated by the school’s Office for Socially Engaged Practice. “We really see this as a program to get students from a variety of backgrounds interested in architecture, design, and higher education,” said Emily Coffman, curriculum and outreach coordinator for the office. “For some of these students, it’s the first time they’re interacting with a university campus, the first time they’re really considering college as a possible path.”
The program welcomes students from across the region emphasizing the need to broaden the diversity of designers. This year, approximately 75% of the youth participants were accepted with a need-based full-tuition waiver.
The program culminated in a final exhibition at WashU’s Steinberg Gallery, with an opening attended by faculty, staff, and the students’ families. The exhibition displayed their work from throughout the program, showing their progress through their final project — a 3D model that integrated the month-long curriculum.
One student shared that the program encouraged them “to be careful, think out of the box, and be creative — how to build with [their] own thinking.”
It also provided an ideal opportunity for WashU students to get involved in teaching architecture. Augustus Abbey, MArch/MCM ‘25, was this summer’s graduate lead. “As assistants, we gained a new perspective and appreciation for architecture and teaching by helping the students through the design process,” he said.
The program was led by Sung Ho Kim, the former Raymond E. Maritz Professor of Architecture. Student assistants in instruction were Augustus Abbey, MArch/MCM '25; Rosy Almazan BS '26; Ceci Gutierrez Torreseptien, BS '25; Jessica Price, BS '24; and Erika Yanou, BS '26.
About The Alberti Program: Architecture for Young People
The Alberti Program began in 2007 through WashU’s College of Architecture. Its objectives include encouraging young people to become architects and designers; fueling the next generation through teaching architecture and design with an emphasis on sustainable environments; training young people to build skills critical for success and personal development; developing and fostering responsibility, accountability, contextual learning, and personal growth among WashU students; and engaging the K-12 education system to cultivate and deepen connections between WashU and the broader St. Louis community. The program is named for 15th-century architect Leon Battista Alberti.