Julissa Avina has long been devoted to art, so the student at Detroit’s Western International High School wanted guidance on finding careers that incorporate its elements. The 16-year-old found it this year in ArcPrep, a program headed by the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning that allows her and other juniors a chance to explore the architecture field. Graduating from the initiative on Monday evening with about 40 other youths, she bore a whole new outlook as well as the framework for a possible new profession.
“I learned a lot of skills,” the teen said. “I see everything different now — every little window, dent in the wall. It opened doors.”
Since its launch in 2015, more than 170 students have completed ArcPrep, which works to boost diversity in the field of architecture. Program leaders have cited a study showing that as of 2008, only 1.5 percent of U.S. architects were African-American. Avina and fellow students attended the program for three-hour credited sessions throughout the semester at the Midtown studio space on Woodward.
During their semester-long program students from Cass Technical High School, Detroit School of Arts, Henry Ford High School and Western International High School are instructed by architecture professionals on building, urbanism and integrated design studio practices. The goal is to help aspiring architects gain pre-college experience as well as develop skills for a potential career, leaders said.
Two of the students from this year's ArcPrep program were awarded summer internships at ROSSETTI. These high school students will receive first hand experience of what working in an architectural office is really like. More importantly, "They are slated to work on projects that involve their city, said Deena Fox, a principal and director of project management. This is the second year ROSSETTI has been involved with the U of M ArcPrep program - hosting three students last year.
“The goal is to contribute to strengthening the pipeline of local talent,” Fox said.
“It’s not common in schools that architecture is understood for what it is, which is a creative discipline,” said Sharon Haar, professor and architecture program chair with Taubman. In turn, the knowledge gained can translate into changes in a redeveloped Detroit as well as around the world, UM President Mark Schlissel told the graduates. “It’s the potential to shape neighborhoods and cities, creating better places for all.” During the ceremony, the youths showcased some of their projects and designs.
Blog adapted from an article written by Mark Hicks for The Detroit News. To be directed to the original article, CLICK HERE.