Internships and summer courses were different this year due to the impact of COVID-19, but students enrolled in the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), Southern California Chapter Annual Summer Camp were ensured the program delivered the same value and level of engagement as previous years. As part of the camp, ZGF hosted its 6th annual ZGF Shadowing Program. Together, these programs equip, empower, and educate students on the architectural techniques of sketching, drawing, hands-on model making, and project site tours.
ZGF hosted the inaugural Shadowing Program—a week-long immersive experience between students and ZGF’s volunteer architects and designers—in the summer of 2016 following a personal request from a camper’s grandmother. Her grandson had been so inspired by his experience at the SoCal NOMA Summer Camp that she asked if there were any additional programs he could enroll in to expose him to the field of architecture, which led to the creation and launch of ZGF’s Shadowing Program.
The weeklong, immersive program guides prospective architecture students through the design processes, including presentations and critiques, but also gives them the experience of what it is like being a working designer, networking, and office life. The program encourages mentorship between the ZGF volunteers and the students. After the camp is over and they advance in their educational careers, our goal is keep them connected with the professionals they worked alongside during the week for advice, direction, and resources.
We had the pleasure of hosting three students this year, Mateo De Leon, Alex Majano, and Gabby Arevalo. Mateo and Alex graduated from high school this year and are preparing for their freshman year at Woodbury University to begin programs in architecture, while Gabby is heading into her senior year of high school.
The 2020 Shadowing Program kicked-off on Monday morning, July 27th with an introduction to our leaders of the program, Partner Mitra Memari, Jenny Apostol, and Dylan Corr, followed by an inspiring discussion with Steven Lewis, FAIA—previous Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, a 2020 AIA|LA Presidential Honoree, and past President of NOMA—in which he shared his storied journey to becoming an urban design Principal at ZGF and an essential voice within the profession on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students were introduced to two of our Associate Principals, Amanda Snelson and Matthew Young, who walked the students through the design process of our project at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, The William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation.
The students were also introduced to the ethical responsibilities that architects, as people who shape the built environment, harbor. CalPoly architecture professor and friend of ZGF, Stacey White, also led a discussion on the American Institute of Architects’ code of ethics and associate and sustainability specialist Avideh Haghighi introduced students to high-performance design and the impacts architects have on climate change through a discussion on carbon neutral design and the living building challenge.
Dylan Corr, an architectural designer based in LA, led the students through the three-day program over Zoom, giving students homework and feedback and providing students with a familiar face to touch base with each day. “My hope with the homework presentations is that [virtual connections] would happen naturally,” Corr said when asked how he virtually tried to facilitate the peer bonding and professional connections. Additional ZGF volunteers who joined to both give design presentations and assist with facilitating the program include Anne Cotter, Steven Chang, Marisa Keckeisen, Alan Kawahara, James Howe, Fernando Astiazaran, and Belinda Pak.
ZGF has supported the initiation of this program for other architecture and design firms in Los Angeles who are yearly participants in the NOMA Summer Camp.
Despite the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, students ended the week with skills to navigate their future careers and an understanding of the profession. We are excited to host again next year and remain hopeful that we can teach the new students in person. Until then, for information on next year’s SoCal NOMA Summer Camp Shadowing Program, please connect with us by going to our contact page and sending us a message.