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GENESIS STEAM x DLR Group Architecture Summer Camp

Jose Sanchez

This summer, we partnered with GENESIS, an organization that provides free science, technology, engineering, arts, and math programming to students, schools, and communities. GENESIS works with K-12 students with limited access to quality STEAM resources and learning that are vital to thriving in our society. Our partnership came to fruition through a weeklong GENESIS STEAM x DLR Group Summer Camp for fifth through seventh-grade students. The “A” in STEAM is significant to GENESIS as its programming is held in the Marciano Art Foundation Museum and houses famous art pieces by Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, Barbara Kruger, and more by BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, creating a unique opportunity to connect the artwork in the museum with the projects inside its innovation lab.

Creating a Lasting Impact through STEAM

GENESIS was seeking to offer an architecture-themed session but struggled with how to connect the students with the scientific and artistic components of the built environment. GENESIS contacted our organization to participate, and we quickly realized this was an exciting opportunity; we could provide a unique insight as a leading designer of museums and K-12 schools. Through brainstorming sessions with our team members with varying career specialties and the staff at GENESIS, we produced a program highlighting our integrated practice, collaboration, and both organizations’ values. Our program was structured by having a thought leader from our practice talk to students about diverse topics that would lead to successful designs. Each day colleagues from our summer internship program, ranging from architectural, engineering, GIS, and technology disciplines, helped the teams imagine and bring to life their design three-dimensionally.

A Week with GENESIS x DLR Group

Monday

  • Students and staff were met with a “Introduction to Architecture” presentation by Jose Sanchez, setting the stage for the week and highlighting the Los Angeles-built work environment and the key traits of a successful designer.
  • Students toured the exhibition floor at the Marciano Art Foundation Museum, sketching and creating artwork, and started establishing teams, mind-mapping, and exploring materials.

Tuesday

  • Day two focused on starting to build a model of a reimagined Boys and Girls Club, with a learning session led by Kyle Cala, Structural Engineer, teaching them the fundamentals of structural engineering.
  • Alex Gordon, Designer, introduced the students to materiality and explored donated and discarded material samples from our materials research library.
  • Students began to build their models with the help of a couple of our engineering summer interns.

Wednesday

  • Lennis Serrano, Interior Designer, introduced the road to becoming an interior designer and taught the students how interior design affects each space in a building differently, not only through aesthetics but also through feeling.
  • Students analyzed the museum’s art and discussed how colors make you feel and hold different meanings.
  • Students continued to build their models by adding materials and color and thinking about the user and the spaces they were creating.

Thursday

  • Alenoush Aghajanians, Senior Design Leader, captivated the students with essential discussions about serving your community and improving lives through architecture and how to design spaces for different people and even animals (we may have been in the presence of a future animal sanctuary designer!).
  • Designer Andrew Herrera connected with the students on how architectural technology has evolved and how we can use technology to better our environment and lives.
  • The students focused on bringing their projects to the finish line. Our interns were busy helping with the hot glue gun, laser cutter, and 3D printers.

Friday

  • Each team of students gave their final presentations, displaying their contemporary Boys and Girls Club models.
  • Students presented to a panel of our employees who quizzed them on their models and gauged their interest in careers in STEAM, but the real winner was the panel that also learned a lot from the kids and reignited our passion for what we do.

Banding Together for a Summer (STEAM Program) to Remember

We were fortunate enough to have our teammates band together to create and facilitate a program with lasting effects for all. Collaboration and teamwork are a crucial part of our culture, which also extends to our interns. These hardworking, inspired folks were not in high school too long ago and were an integral part of the program, working hands-on with students and helping their designs come to life. Sophie Phillips, a current University of Southern California intern, attended each day, coordinating and providing continuity to each session. By the program’s end, the impact was clear; through the program itself and the connections made, students and staff returned each day inspired by creativity and ingenuity.

Watching these young minds lead us through their ideas, process, collaboration, and eventually, their final design was incredible. Each team showed true passion, teamwork, problem-solving, and innovation, and when the panel asked the group whether they would be interested in doing this kind of work as a career, there were more than just a few hands in the air.

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