Architecture Discovery Program

September 11, 2023
By AdmissionSight

The Architecture Discovery Program: Unveiling the World of Design

Have you ever stood in front of a grand, centuries-old cathedral or a sleek, contemporary skyscraper and wondered about the genius behind its design? The realm of architecture is as vast and varied as human civilization itself. WashU’s Architecture Discovery Program (ADP) is a transformative experience designed to pull back the curtain on this fascinating world, offering an insightful peek into the intricate processes, concepts, and history that shape our built environment.

What is WashU’s Architecture Discovery Program?

Designed specifically for high school enthusiasts, the Architecture Discovery Pre-College program offers a captivating gateway into the universe of architecture and design. Spanning an intense two-week duration, participants benefit from the individualized mentoring provided by the esteemed faculty of the Sam Fox School. As a part of this journey, students amass a rich collection of materials perfect for enhancing their design portfolios.

Central to the ADP experience is the Design Studio. Here, innovation and imagination come alive, paving the way for a profound passion and a deeper understanding of compassionate design. A key lesson emphasizes how sustainability principles are revolutionizing the architectural landscape.

Paper architectural drawings and blueprint

From start to finish, participants engage in various design drills, each sharpening their design acumen. The program’s pinnacle sees students unveiling their architectural designs for critical review under the watchful eyes of faculty and guest experts.

However, the ADP experience isn’t just about buildings and designs; it’s also about honing the ability to observe and translate visions into tangible sketches. This is where the Drawing Studio comes into play. It equips students with the unique skill of capturing the nuances of the world through sketching.

Guided by faculty expertise, you’ll find yourself sketching amidst real-world scenes, translating what you witness into intricate drawings. By doing so, concepts like spatial dynamics, the play of light and shadow, material contrasts, orthographic layouts, and perspective take on a vivid, understandable form.

Additionally, participants venture out on excursions to some of the city’s premier museums, galleries, and heritage landmarks, delving deep into St. Louis’s vibrant art and design tapestry. Previous outings have encompassed:

  • Renowned architectural establishments
  • Studios of established artists
  • The Saint Louis Art Museum
  • The iconic Gateway Arch National Park
  • St. Louis’s Contemporary Art Museum
  • The Pulitzer Arts Center
  • The picturesque Laumeier Sculpture Park
  • The unique City Museum.

This program will continue to be offered each summer and is designed for upcoming high school juniors and seniors. Once participants successfully conclude the program, they will earn two college credits.

How Do You Apply for the Architecture Discovery Program?

Students can submit their applications online for the Architecture Discovery Program through SlideRoom. The following are the requirements:

  • A written essay
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Optional work samples
  • An application fee: $35 for early bird applicants and $45 for regular applicants. Students facing financial constraints can apply for a fee waiver.

In 2023, the projected cost of the program is $3,915. This fee encompasses tuition, supplies, on-campus housing, a meal plan throughout the program, and field trips. Once accepted, students must make a $250 non-refundable deposit to secure their spot. If a student exits the program after its commencement, no portion of the tuition will be refunded.

student reading and learning to prepare for the entrance exam

Scholarship support, covering up to the full tuition, is available based on financial necessity and academic prowess. For scholarship recipients, the program deposit is waived. Ensure the scholarship application is submitted for eligibility by March 15, 2023.

International Students at WashU’s Art & Design Pre-College Programs

The program warmly welcomes international students. In the past, students from countries like France, Russia, China, Mexico, and Korea have enriched our program. This is a prime opportunity to immerse oneself in art and design and the nuances of American college life.

Upon acceptance, staff will guide you through obtaining an I-20, a necessary step for a US visa application. All visa application expenses are borne by the student. If you’re an international student in a U.S. high school, your existing F-1 visa will suffice.

Visa Requirements

If you’re neither a US citizen nor a permanent resident, you’ll need an F-1 student visa. It’s essential to note that attending with a tourist visa (B1/B2) or visa waiver (ESTA) is prohibited due to the program’s full-time nature.

Student Visa & I-20 Process

  • Apply and get accepted into the Architecture Discovery Pre-College program.
  • Post acceptance, pay your program deposit.
  • After receiving your deposit, Sam Fox School will email the necessary I-20 application forms.
  • Submit the completed forms and required bank documents, passport details, and English language test scores.
  • Post verification, your WashU I-20 will be mailed to your address.
  • Upon receiving the I-20, settle the SEVIS I-901 fee and schedule a visa appointment at your nearest US Consulate.
  • Attend the visa interview with all relevant documents to obtain the F-1 student visa.

English Proficiency Requirement

All international students must be proficient in English, as instruction is exclusively in English. Applicants from non-English-speaking nations must submit scores from TOEFL, IELTS, or the Duolingo English Test. The minimum TOEFL score accepted is 90, or its equivalent in other tests. Submit these scores along with your I-20 forms.

What is Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Known for?

Situated within Washington University in St. Louis, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts stands out as a beacon of excellence in art, design, and architecture. Its reputation has been carved not only by its extensive academic offerings but also by its alumni, faculty, and programs’ impact on the global stage.

Comprehensive Academic Programs: The school is well-known for its wide array of programs that cover various disciplines, including but not limited to architecture, art history & archaeology, communication design, fashion design, illustration & visual culture, and urban design. Such diverse offerings enable students to cross-pollinate ideas between disciplines, leading to innovative thinking and solutions.

Celebrated Faculty: The faculty at Sam Fox School are more than just educators; they are practitioners, thought leaders, and pioneers in their respective fields. Their active engagement in contemporary practice and commitment to pedagogical excellence provide students with a rich, immersive learning experience that balances theoretical knowledge and practical application.

State-of-the-Art Facilities: The school boasts cutting-edge facilities that cater to the ever-evolving needs of design and visual arts students. From advanced digital fabrication labs to traditional studios, the infrastructure is tailored to foster creativity, experimentation, and hands-on learning.

Students walking towards the Washington University

Influential Alumni: Over the years, Sam Fox School has produced a remarkable array of alumni who have made significant marks in their respective professions. Whether they’re renowned architects, celebrated artists, or design magnates, their achievements stand as a testament to the school’s quality of education and training.

Collaborative Environment: One of the unique aspects of the Sam Fox School is its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Students often work on projects that meld various fields of study, leading to a holistic understanding of design and visual arts and ensuring they’re well-prepared for the integrated nature of the professional world.

Community Engagement and Real-world Projects: The school strongly emphasizes community involvement. Students frequently engage in projects that address real-world challenges, thereby gaining practical experience and contributing positively to society.

Prestigious Exhibitions and Events: Throughout the academic year, the school hosts various exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and events featuring international artists, designers, and scholars. These events offer students unparalleled exposure to the broader world of design and art and position the school as a vital cultural hub.

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is not merely an educational institution; it’s a dynamic ecosystem where tradition meets innovation, theory meets practice, and ideas meet execution. Its renowned status in art, design, and architecture is a culmination of its forward-thinking curriculum, illustrious faculty, and commitment to shaping the next generation of creative leaders.


WashU’s Architecture Discovery Program is more than just an educational venture; it’s a journey into the world of spaces, structures, and stories for high schoolers. With its unique blend of practical and theoretical learning, ADP offers an unmatched opportunity to dive deep into the universe of architecture, fostering not just knowledge but a lifelong passion.

To sum it up in the words of the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright: “Architecture is life, or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived.”

Are you interested in pursuing a study route in architecture? At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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