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In partnership with Designing Justice Designing Spaces (DJDS), students will design concepts for a community altar space at Community Works’ new space in San Francisco. Community Works seeks to transform justice through programs and policy rooted in humanity and healing, and we are honored to create designs for them that will help elevate this mission. In order to achieve this design goal, we will integrate research, sketching, modeling, collage, and other digital design tools to create individual design proposals for our client.


Architecture + Activism is a 6-week architectural studio course that invites and challenges high school participants to design a spatial concept for real-world nonprofit partners. Led by Tonia Sing Chi, AIA (licensed architect and Owner of Peripheral Office) and Emily Pilloton-Lam (MFA and BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley and School of the Art Institute of Chicago), we will learn architectural basics such as precedent studies, site surveys, client relationships, drawings (plan, section, elevation), and representational techniques (model-building, collage, and more). While we will not be teaching architectural software (AutoCAD, Rhino, etc) in a comprehensive way, we will provide an introduction to the world of architectural software and can provide ongoing educational resources to students who are interested in digital design tools. This course is a design-only complement to many of our design/build courses, allowing us more time to deeply explore the design process with and for a nonprofit community partner.

Instructors Tonia and Emily both have experience teaching architectural studios at the undergraduate and graduate level at institutions including UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Dark Matter University. The entire cohort will be encouraged to embark on both individual as well as collaborative work, to learn the value and culture of creative critique, and to present design ideas to a client at the culmination of the course. And, the designs that emerge from this class will directly guide the final fabrication of the client’s project, which will be built later in the year by a summer cohort of Girls Garage students.

Applications open March 1 for our Spring 2024 session and will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full.