Architecture & Design Camps

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Public transit/city planning camps or classes

March 2015

I have a public-transit obsessed son and am looking for camps or classes where he can delve more deeply into his passion. He's now 12 and has been studying and designing public transit systems his whole life. He has researched public transit and train systems all over the world and has redesigned Muni and BART in great detail, submitting these designs to SFMTA. He's also interested in bike infrastructure/safe streets planning. He has already expressed interested in studying public transit engineering and/or city planning in college and I'm wondering if there are any summer sessions or classes he could take as a teen. This has been his passion forever and few kids his age share it, so we'd love him to find his 'clan'. Let's just say his reward for potty training at age 2 was to take the 33 Stanyan, and he by this point has spent 1000s of hours researching and reading this stuff. I'm hoping some city planners/engineers in the BPN community might have some ideas, thank you!

-the only mom who's visited every stop on the Paris metro with a 3-year old


Hi there mom, I think it is great he is passionate about something that he wants to pursue it in the future. Your son is like mine. His rewards were also train rides, bus rides, trips to rail yards, and long transit rides in multiple cities. Fortunately, I do work for the SFMTA and have also worked for the NYC Transit Authority and Metro North Commuter Rail. My son hears about my work ''tales'' all the time.

There are professional trainings taking place all over the Bay Area, but they are during school hours and they are costly.  He could possibly attend evening events of the ''Young Professional in Transit'' or other Bay Area professional events, but that would of course depend on when and where the events take place. (Most are at restaurants and some at government or consulting offices.) These events usually have networking times, but also presentations by people talking about their projects. Visiting/spending a day at different agencies is also an option. And finally, I know of paid internships that he can ''tap'' into once he is in high school and/or college.

There are two upcoming local events you might want to consider for your son: In October 2015, the American Public Transit Association (APTA) is holding their Annual Meeting in San Francisco. This meeting is attended by top transit industry people from all over the country. Many sessions/workshops all about transit. Also this October The American Planning Association (APA) is holding their Annual State Conference in Oakland. While not transit specific, he will be able to meet other Urban Planners, transit planners, and Engineers from around the State. There are both workshops (at the Oakland Marriott) and mobile workshops around the Bay, all highlighting different Urban Planning projects, concepts, ideas, etc.  Good luck with helping him out so early and just let him know that there is a ''village'' ready to help him achieve his goal. Kim


Unfortunately internships (mainly through MTC) don't start until high school. My transit planner spouse recommended attending public hearings -- AC Transit is going through a hearing process now, and your son can get an idea of how planners work with the public by going to those meetings. You might need to organize something yourself, maybe hire a grad student from DCRP to talk about planning. William Stout is the bookstore for Architecture and Planning -- there's a branch in SF and one in Berkeley on Solano Ave. anon


I have no help for you but I just wanted to say that your kid sounds awesome and your posting was one of the most charming I have ever seen. Anon


Your son sounds passionate (and just a wee bit quirky). I find it hard to imagine that there are enough teens that share your son's passion that you will find a camp (but best of luck with your search). It occurs to me though, that he might love and do well at an actual professional conference. A quick search turned up a rail conference in Salt Lake City in June (http://www.apta.com/mc/rail/Pages/default.aspx). Not as convenient as a camp where there would be adult supervision, and you'd have to go or arrange a chaperone (at least until he's older), but I bet your son would really appreciate the not-dumbed-down content and the opportunity to network with professionals in the field. Professional conferences are generally nicely self-contained, and you generally don't have to leave the conference hotel unless you want to. Carrie


This has to be the most adorable post I have ever read. What a funny kid! And you are obviously a great mom. Can I share this post with friends? As a former city planner, I confess I can't think of a camp or class specifically geared to such a thing, but I would say that you should consider some ''informational interview'' types of visits to a few places, and maybe they could point you in the right direction.

First of all, do you know there is a department of Transportation Engineering at UC Berkeley? I don't recall if that's the right name, or whether it is actually absorbed into another department, but there are road and transit geeks to be found there. There is also a department of city and regional planning, in Wurster Hall. Pay a visit to the dean, and ask his/her advice. Bring in your budding planner. Read through the course catalogs. He may be able to sit in on classes, or audit them officially, or maybe through your own school, you can arrange for him to actually enroll in a class.

You should also visit BART and Muni and AC Transit. Check out the cable car museum in SF. Make appointments with planners. And, for teen internships, I believe a friend's son had a summer internship at Metropolitan Transportation Commission, or MTC. I don't know how it worked, and they probably arranged it through some summer internship program at the high school. This was at Oakland Tech, which might also be a good high school for him, and in fact, you may want to take a tour of the school sometime in the next year, since he'll be heading to high school soon. The Engineering program there may have some leads as well. You'll at least find a teacher who knows something about where to send him.

But also check the MTC website. Or visit the offices. There's also a (state?) office, though it's at the county level, called a transportation commission. Alameda County Transportation Commission or Alameda CTC? And if you want to do something quickish in the meantime, and if he really needs something juicy to chew on,! I'd bet you could find copies of the EIR/EIS documents for any of the transportation projects like the various BART extensions, or the LA/Long Beach light rail (that would have been in about the mid 1980s, since I remember working on it). You could find them at the UCBerkeley libraries. And you'd probably make a librarian's day to answer questions like that.

In today's real time, he could probably learn about the High Speed Rail project. Since that's still in the planning stages. You could give him a role in researching the issue. Coach him a little, and encourage him to either participate in some of the phone calls, or emails, or do it with him, or ask him if he wants to try asking the questions and making phone calls on his own, if you think that would work. I'm sure there's both joys and challenges of having such a focused/obsessed kid.

You've got a great attitude and a lovely sense of humor. All my life I've been looking for my passion....
 


Architecture summer camp? Design Camp?

Jan 2015

My daughter loves designing things. I am looking for an architecture or design summer camp opportunity. I would appreciate any recommendations to support her interests. Thanks


Check out Studio H (Camp H). They have programs specifically for girls. My granddaughter started an 8 week long (one day a week) Architecture camp yesterday. She came back really excited. They have other classes and camps and they vary from session to session. They have an 11 module Fearless Builder Girl Certification. It is for girls from 9-12. The camps are at REALM Charter High School where they have a wonderful studio with all kinds of tools and equipment like laser cutters and such. Emily Pilloton (an architect) is the camp director. http://projecthdesign.org/programs/studio-h/ Granddaughter loves design.