Students get architecture
By Deanna Sheffield
Daily Cougar Staff
Students lean over models resting on tables
in the UH School of Architecture building, preparing for their Friday showing.
The only difference is that these are high
school students who have come from schools
all over Houston to receive intensive architecture training at UH.
Forty-nine students are attending the ongoing
six-week Summer Discovery Program, which exposes students to architecture
and gives them an opportunity to
decide if they would be interested in
the field. This is the sixth year that the University has offered the program.
"We're basically just learning what architecture
entails," said Cynthia Bowen, a junior at Friendswood High School. "A lot
of people are taking this to see if they might
want to pursue a career in architecture."
During the course of the program, students
design reality-based models for a medical center in Mexico, complete with
housing and parking for medical staff
members. The center is an actual project
that local architects are designing. Construction of the facilities will
not be based on student models; however, the students'
ideas could potentially be incorporated.
This was the first year the students put
together a reality-based project, said Drexel Turner, visiting assistant
professor of architecture. "It's helpful to architects
responsible for that project," he said.
"They get the benefit of the (students') thinking."
The students listen to lectures and participate
in projects Monday through Thursday, and take field trips Fridays. Field
trips have included visits to the UH
architecture offices and local museums.
For their last field trip, the students went to the Calatrava Exhibit in
Dallas, the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Kimball
Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the Charles
Moore House in Austin.
Jerrell Jones, sophomore at the High School
for the Performing and Visual Arts, said his favorite part of the program
is designing the models.
"This is a child learning center," Jones
said, pointing to a nearby model. "The point was to make it different from
a school. It centers around a big tree -- a lot has to
do with nature."
"We try to get (high school) juniors and
seniors, because younger students have a lower maturity level. But we have
had some (high school) graduates and college
students," said Donna Kacmir, visiting
assistant professor of architecture.
This year, for the first time, a student
who had attended the Summer Discovery Program graduated from UH, majoring
in architecture. At least one student currently
attending the Summer Discovery Program
plans to attend UH to study architecture in the fall. Two students are
attending the Summer Discovery Program for the
second consecutive year.
The program does not have any specific
requirements and all high school students who are interested are able to
attend. Similar architecture programs exist at other
universities; however, many cost thousands
of dollars, as opposed to the $375 for the UH program. Funding for the
program, which keeps the cost low and provides
student scholarships, is provided by HEB,
the Houston Architecture Foundation and Joe Webb Architects.
"We thought it would be nice to have a
program like this in Houston that's affordable and that reaches into the
community," Turner said.
"Even if they don't pursue it professionally,
they'll be more aware of what (architects) do," he added.
The student show will be held at 4 p.m.
Friday on the second floor of the Gerald D. Hines Architecture Building.