The University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning recently hosted its annual Architecture and Design Summer Academy (ADSA) for high school students in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This interactive and hands-on summer academy provided students with real-world experience in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, historic preservation, and planning, preparing them for UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) undergraduate programs.

Studnt drawing on lightup table
Student drawing sketches

The Architecture and Design Summer Academy (ADSA) was held at the New Mexico School for the Arts, a free four-year public high school located in Santa Fe. Students engaged with various aspects of design, including sketching, site analysis, and scale drafting and model making. They attended lectures on historic preservation, community-based architecture and planning, adobe construction, and the landscapes and ecology of Santa Fe.

Female student building adobe vertical
Student hand pressing adobe bricks

Katherine Boles, who organized this year’s ADSA program chimed in on how great of an opportunity this is for high school students. “This program is a great way for high school students to experience a bit of what it might be like to be a designer and learn a few technical skills to support additional design studies, but it is also a lot of fun with a diverse mix of visiting professional offices, touring outdoor sites, learning from guest lecturers, and plenty of hands-on design and making experience! It has been a real pleasure supporting these students as they explore the design fields as potential future careers.”

Jeff Pappas, state historic preservation officer of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Historic Preservation Division, delivered a talk on Santa Fe’s historic preservation and architecture. Claudia Horn, landscape architect, principal, and founder of Design Office, discussed the ecology of Santa Fe and shared some of her firm’s projects including the Santa Fe MPO Pedestrian Master Plan and Romero Park Master Plan. Garron Yepa, senior designer with MASS Design Group, spoke about the firm’s community-based multi-disciplinary design work on projects including Owe’neh Bupingeh Preservation Project in Ohkay Owingeh, NM and Wa-Di Housing Development in Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM. Abby Feldman, associate with Surroundings Studio, individually reviewed student designs and provided feedback.

 Issac Logsdon teaching in class
Issac Logsdon teaching how to build adobe mixture

One lecture featured Issac Logsdon, assistant program director at Cornerstone Community Partnership, a nonprofit focused on restoring public buildings. Logsdon discussed earthen construction, and then led an adobe-making workshop for the students. Student Juan Valle expressed his excitement about this lecture, saying, "My favorite lecture came from the guest speaker from Cornerstones. He taught us about adobe preservation, the importance of vernacular architecture, and building techniques. At the end, we had a fun project where we hand mixed our own adobe bricks using localized materials!”

Field trips included visits to architecture and landscape architecture firms and sites in Santa Fe. Alexander Dzurec guided a tour of Autotroph, an architecture, planning, and consulting firm. Kenneth Fracis hosted a visit to Surroundings Studio, a landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm. SITE Santa Fe staff gave a guided tour of their eye-catching building (designed by SHoP Architects of NYC) in addition to a tour of their current art exhibits.

“During my two weeks in Santa Fe, I got to visit multiple different architecture studios where I learned about work culture and the hiring process. We were led on tours of not only Santa Fe’s historic districts, but the contemporary extensions of the center,” Valle added. “We were shown around by the employees and had the chance to get our questions answered. We did many activities which challenged us creatively.”

Sophomore UNM student, Maya Jio, who participated in ADSA the previous year, found ADSA to be instrumental in her decision to major in architecture at UNM. “The ADSA program prepared me for the UNM School of Architecture and application process to UNM's School of Architecture and Planning by introducing me to professors and mentors whom I reached out to during the application process, by giving me an insight into what kind of classes and electives would be beneficial for me to sign up for, and by generally solidifying my decision to choose Architecture and Planning as my major.”

Wide shot of students setting up to build adobe
Students setting up to build adobe bricks

The Academy concluded with students presenting their designs and projects at the Railyard Performance Center. Guest critics, including Abby Feldman, Alexander Dzurec, and Ke Vaughn Harding from MASS Design Group, listened to student presentations, and provided constructive feedback on their designs. “It was great to be able to have hands-on experience in the esoteric world of architecture. We received a taste of critiques, a critical part of improving your skills. It was great to be able to meet and get critiqued by architects from established firms,” added Valle.

Maya Jio summed up her experience by saying, “This real-world look into architecture was a game-changing experience for me because I had begun the summer still struggling to determine what I wanted to major in at UNM and this program gave me my answer. I met a lot of wonderful professors, grad students and potential peers and learned new skills that I'll be using for years to come.”

Students visiting exhibit at SITE Santa Fe: Going with the Flow: art, actions, and western waters

Fernanda Portillo, who is attending UNM in the fall of 2023, participated in ASDA her junior year of high school. She said taking this class was beneficial to her finding her path and wants to encourage other high school students to participate in this great opportunity. “I know there are a lot of students who are like me and feel anxious about the future, so taking the ADSA program made me feel assured that this is what I want to do. That is why many students should take advantage of the program; every year they have different projects, nothing is the same, and at the end they let you keep some of the to you used (like a mini architecture starter kit). You are also able to make connections with professors and new students who have similar interests. Architecture is very different from engineering it is more liberating and artistic. Students who love to draw or create from scratch should enroll in this program.”