Pre-College Design Camp

teens looking at architecture model

Registration is full at this time. Please click here to join our waitlist.

Join us for KU Design Camp from June 11–17, 2023 and enjoy a valuable educational experience while working on projects that enhance your creative portfolio. KU Design Camp is a pre-college summer program offered to high school students who are entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year and are interested in Architecture or Design. Students learn in hands-on workshops taught by KU School of Architecture & Design faculty. 

Camp Dates: June 11–17, 2023

Format: In-person at KU's Lawrence Campus

Registration Fees: $1,000 — This fee includes housing in a University of Kansas residence hall, meals, studio fees, project materials, and evening activities. $150 deposit due at time of registration. 

KU Design Camp qualifies for Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP) funding. KEEP provides qualifying parents and guardians with a $1,000 award per eligible child to pay for a variety of educational goods and services that promote learning recovery and facilitate academic enrichment opportunities. Learn more here.


Workshop Topics

Campers select a morning and an afternoon workshop topic during registration. Please note that the availability of workshops is subject to enrollment numbers Placement in workshops is based on a a first-come, first-served basis.

Morning Workshops


Urban Sketchbook
Instructor: Kent Smith

This workshop focuses on "Urban Sketch" and will take students on a series of sketchbook adventures around campus focused on observational, energetic, drawing of architectural spaces. Develop drawing and composition skills along with lessons in mark-making, sighting, perspective systems and more. Learn how to "hack" your sketchbook and bring pages to life with various media explorations and creative challenges.


Footwear Design
Instructor: Betsy Barnhart

Have you ever wanted to design your own sneakers? Do you love streetwear and fashion? In this class learn how to design footwear like the pros, from identifying trends, creating mood boards, brainstorming ideas, iterative sketching, applying performance attributes, to styling. Students will learn terms of the trade, materials used, and basic principles of athletic shoe-making. By the end of the workshop students will design their own fashion driven athletic sneaker based off of their own trend forecasting and research. Students will be able to rapidly sketch multiple designs, create marker renderings to show color options and materials, understand and apply the basics of creating photo-realistic digital drawings, select materials, and visualize their own concepts. Students create a final presentation and a portfolio of their unique design that is a fantastic addition to any fine art or industrial design college portfolio application.


Editorial Illustration 101
Instructor: Titus Smith

Based on his experience working for ESPN’s Digital Content team (2015-20), Titus will share the process of selecting and commissioning editorial illustrations, from initial contact to publication. Students will receive a mock brief, create sketches, revise their work based on feedback and deliver final artwork all within the course of a week.


What the Zine?
Instructor: Alec Smith

Do you enjoy taking pictures, but aren’t sure what to do with them? Do images pile up on your hard drive never to see the world? It’s time to rescue them and show them off with a photo zine! In this fast-paced, hands-on self-publication workshop, we will learn to organize your visual interests to meaningfully communicate your unique ideas.

First, we’ll look at a variety of photo zines for inspiration, from the punk b&w xerox to the magazine glossy, stapled binding to hand sewn. Then, we’ll explore the beautiful KU campus and our photography studio to make a new set of images, using some lighting tips of the trade and KU’s digital SLRs, or even your own phone—all cameras are game! Next, we’ll print and sequence the images, and discover how context and order can completely change a narrative. Finally, you’ll produce an array of your own photo zines to take home as a portfolio piece, or better yet, share with your friends! Whether you’re a camera phone enthusiast or seasoned manual photographer, this class will change how you see, read, and ultimately publish your pictures.


Architecture: A Spatial Journey Workshop
Instructor: Anne Patterson

Students design a sequence of spaces that explore entry, path-space relationships, threshold, and destination using a predetermined kit of parts. Each journey is connected to three others at a common space which is a scale model of a space in Marvin Hall. They will measure and construct this space themselves. The development of the individual project is energized by collaborative sessions where the students put the models back together to see the effect of their decisions at a larger scale, connecting the models in both ‘urban’ and landscape context.


Afternoon Workshops


Creative Characters and Creatures
Instructor: Kent Smith

Through creative expeditions to the many campus museums (Natural History, Spencer, Wilcox, etc.), and various media experiments, students will find new inspiration and ideation methods for developing next-level characters and creatures. Each day will hold a new character challenge and students will learn to take drawings from sketches in the field to a refined digital drawing with color and light.


Utilizing Digital Fabrication Tools
Instructor: Amy Van de Riet

This introductory class teaches spatial thinking and how to utilize digital fabrication tools to generate creative architectural outcomes. In architecture, the ability to communicate ideas is an important part of the design process. The visual representation of a design is how we share concepts and ideas for feedback and discourse in architecture. Projects in this class use 3D printing and laser cutters to create different learning outcomes.


Experimental Darkroom Photography
Instructor: Christina Santner

The workshop will focus mostly on darkroom printing, starting with photograms, moving on to contact printing, and finally, enlarging from negatives. Students will also learn the basics of how film cameras record images, and will have the opportunity to shoot their own images. We will start with Pinhole cameras, moving onto the 35mm film cameras. There will be lots of time for experimentation, and creating work that students can take home.


Packaging Design
Instructor: Jeremy Shellhorn

Redesign a toy packaging experience with consideration for its sustainability and use. In our throw-away society, businesses usually specify their packaging choices based on conventional sizes/materials or perceived budget restraints. Not often enough consideration is given to the user’s experience of it and how it impacts the environment. Designers can have a powerful impact on all phases of the experience, so we will flex our design muscles and use this packaging opportunity to think up and down the entire design process from concept to graphics, and from materials to final construction using the laser cutter to make a 3D prototype.


Designing in Virtual and Augmented Reality: From User Empathy to Prototyping
Instructor: Mohammad Dastmalchi

In this workshop, students will gain an understanding of immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) and how architects and designers use them. Through hands-on activities, students will develop an understanding of how technology can provide insights into how people with disabilities experience the world, and how this can inform their designs. Students will explore a wide range of applications in VR to ideate and solve a design problem. Students will be asked to design a bus shelter, for which they will use VR systems to explore ideas. And finally, students get to present their work using VR.