Jump start your career in architecture and land development with a studio course that teaches you the techniques of the trade as well as the ideas influencing modern design.

Chicago has one of the most renowned architectural landscapes in the world. Destroyed by a city in the late 1800s, it was brought back to life by the world’s leading architects and has continued to be on the cutting edge of the architectural scene. Architecture is the technical art of designing spaces and structures that are suitable, adaptable, and flexible enough for communities and individuals. But great architecture also expands our connection to the world around us through carefully curated space. This course will explore the utilitarian, aesthetic, and expressive process of developing architectural plans and pitches. Begin with examining iconic buildings in downtown Chicago to develop a common vocabulary around the building structure, aesthetic, and its place within a community. Dive into experiential exercises including hard-lined scale plans, elevation drawings, and the creation of architectural scale models — the studio fundamentals that translate your vision onto the page. As part of a design team, take on a challenge from a Chicago-area architectural firm to prepare a proposal for a new building. Refine your work in response to formal critique sessions, adapt your concept, and develop a design to use in a final, compelling pitch to the firm’s executives.

A laptop, Chromebook, or tablet is required for this course. Students who opt to bring a tablet must also have a keyboard, and are strongly encouraged to bring a mouse and stylus/pen.

Who Should Take This Course?

You see potential in the spaces around you: an empty plot of land can become a beautifully designed home; natural features can become focal points of a building design. In this course, you will plan and design structures, focusing on the skills of spatial design and land planning in order to produce a finished structure. No previous architecture experience is required.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Tessa Smith, Architect, Principal, Artisans Group
  • Bob Borson, Architect, Podcaster, Malone Maxwell Borson Architects
  • Stephen Willrich, Principal Architect, Stephen Willrich Design
  • Tony Green, Managing Partner, The Pinehills

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Chicago Architecture Tours

    Examine historical and contemporary designs such as the InterContinental Hotel, Willis Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Aqua Tower, and the Rookery up close.

  • Site Surveys

    Visit potential building sites and conduct analysis on existing structures, topography, and features of the natural environment. Apply your findings to new architectural design concepts.

  • Work with Leading Architects

    Meet with professional architects from one of Chicago’s leading architectural firms to get insight into the professional process and practices.

  • 3D Modeling

    Complete scale model constructions of your architectural designs using industry standard prototyping tools and techniques.

  • Design Proposals

    Prepare a professional presentation and portfolio of your final designs including scale models, line drawings, and elevation drawings.

I want to learn as much as possible about architecture. Before coming here it was a passion I pursued from afar. I never really got seriously involved, but with this architecture class I am doing things I used to admire others doing -- and that has to be one of the greatest things to happen to me so far.

Advisors + Past Speakers

Tessa Smith

Architect, Principal, Artisans Group

Tessa Smith is a principal at Artisans Group, an award-winning Pacific Northwest-based architecture, design, and sustainability firm. Known for innovation combined with environmentally sound practices, Artisans designs both custom homes, remodels, and commercial spaces. Smith is a lead architect “dedicated to stunning and sustainable design.” Her work has been featured in Dwell, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Houzz, and more.

Bob Borson

Architect, Podcaster, Malone Maxwell Borson Architects

Bob Borson, FAIA, LEED, is a principal architect of Malone Maxwell Borson Architects, an award winning full-service firm based in Dallas, Texas. The firm specializes in the design of commercial projects as well as single and multifamily residential design. Borson was named Young Architect of the Year in 2009 and writes and maintains the architectural website and podcast

Stephen Willrich

Principal Architect, Stephen Willrich Design

Based in Marin County, California, Stephen Willrich Design provides the full range of architectural services tailored to the project, the client, and the environment. Willrich, a principal architect is a dual degree graduate of University of California at Berkeley, spent years working for prominent Bay Area architectural firms before starting his own company. He brings experience in resort and hospitality design, urban planning, residential development, and more.

Tony Green

Managing Partner, The Pinehills

Tony Green is the Managing Partner for the New England Development, The Pinehills, a 960-acre development outside of Boston that offers custom homes. The Pinehills has received numerous awards, including “Home of the Year” and “Best Home in the Northeast.” A dual degree graduate of Harvard University, Green has owned and operated his own building firm for 17 years and serves on the Board of the Harvard Real Estate Academic Initiative.