Back in July, we learned of a tremendous summer architecture program via a Facebook post from Pascale Sablan, Founder & Executive Director Beyond the Built Environment LLC.  As a result, I reached out to her asking if she would be willing to write an entry on the program by Alex Foundation.  Below is what she shared.

Our collaboration with the Alex Foundation for their annual Architecture + Design Summer Camp for Girls introduced architecture and the profession to almost 20 7th-grade ladies. With the added complexities of COVID, we mobilized and replanned the program to be an interactive and engaging program through a virtual medium.

It was incredibly important that I ground the lesson in first understanding the challenges of the profession and most importantly the vast possibilities of how they can design their built environment.

By sharing my personal experiences, the ladies learned about some of the representation disparities of the profession; while studying architecture, one of my professors stated I was incapable of becoming an architect because of my gender and race. I countered my professor’s assumptions to the ladies with examples of profound and talented women and diverse designers in the profession. Through representation, the message that they can change the world through architecture was echoed throughout our time together.

Our days were filled with curated activities:

  • Exploring resources such as the Great Diverse Designers Library.
  • Studying architecture that acts as advocates through keeping history and embedding diverse culture into the built environment.
  • We enjoyed a virtual tour of the Belmont Plantation (Greenville, MS) and learned of its dynamic and complex history.
  • We learned how to read floor plans and architectural drawings.
  • Participated in tutorials that I lead on how to use the SketchUp software.

I taught the ladies that in addition to research bespoke to this site, that design concepts are tools used to guide the process. Rooted in all that they learned of the Belmont Plantation history and current community needs, the ladies opted to either modify the main house, create a new building, or add a new structure to the grounds.

Through breakout groups based on their programmatic architectural intervention, we had design charrette as the ladies presented to one another their designs that they modeled using the software. I was blown away by their ownership of the information they were given and how they leveraged it to design unique projects that address a value that was of great importance to them.

We concluded our program by introducing other architecture programs that the ladies can engage over the next few years to continue their exploration of the profession. Programs such as Mike Ford’s Hip-Hop Architecture camp, ACE Mentor Program of America, and NOMA’s Project Pipeline.


Pascale Sablan

Founder & Executive Director Beyond the Built Environment LLC


Thanks to Pascale for her sharing; as in many cases, we gain more from the experience than the students.  Pascale also shared – “What can YOU do to help the next generation of architects?”



Posted in ,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.