Combining science and art, architecture centers on design. As part of Woodbury School of Architecture’s seventh annual summer Design Lab, high school students from across Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley took part in a five-week program that introduced attendees to principles of design, digital and analog fabrication techniques, and to the world of architecture. Taught by faculty member Cody Miner, students were asked to design and build a scale model of a pavilion to be placed in Glendale’s Bette Davis Park along the Los Angeles River.
Woodbury’s design lab is offered to high school students entering 11th or 12th grades and allows students to explore Woodbury University’s architecture and interior design disciplines. The course is organized within a framework of thinking, drawing and making. A group of 24 students took part in the three-day, nine-hour-a-week architecture course for college credit. Touching on everything from stop-motion animation to drawing techniques, students came from San Fernando, Granada Hills, Kennedy and Bishop Alemany high schools, along with several other locations. Students learned architectural design practices and techniques working with software like Rhinoceros and Adobe Photoshop.
“This is a project near and dear to my heart,” said Dean Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, who founded the program seven years ago. “This is a project that attempts to reach out to those students who may have never considered architecture.” Wahlroos-Ritter added, “This is not your traditional architecture demographic. We have from across Los Angeles and from different high schools, that’s what’s so exciting, the diversity and the chance to reach out.”
Faculty member Cody Miner gave students common materials, including the pavilion’s wooden frame, to be used by the entire group. “We taught architectural principles that are used in the field, but we also gave students a lot of room to make their own decisions,” Miner said. “I was impressed with what I saw. This was a real ‘crash course,’ and these students shined.”
Students are immersed in a studio environment and work on-campus in digital fabrication labs, experimenting with 3D printing and laser cutting, and learning about architecture and interior architecture through traditional and digital hand drawing, material experimentation, and model-making exercises. Students design within different techniques to create two dimensional and three dimensional architectural studies. These become models that explore space, form, and elements of architectural design. The Design Lab also explores fundamental architectural problems like constructing an arch, designing cantilevers, or building dome structures. Basic structural ideas are considered throughout the design process.
Woodbury has partnered with LAUSD STEM High School students to offer scholarships for the Design Lab course each summer.