Caite Canfield (Class of 2019) Studies at 6-week Harvard Design Discovery Program Distinction in Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) sponsored by the Visual Arts Internship Award

This summer I was a participant in the Harvard Graduate School of Design 6-week Design Discovery Program. The program offers a fully immersive experience in one of three program distinctions: Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, and Architecture. I chose to pursue architecture given my Skidmore double major in Studio Art and Mathematics. The Design Discovery program provided me with an opportunity to understand what the coming years of graduate school would look like and unveiled the life of an architect upon entering the real world.

With 5+ hours of studio time every day and guest lecturers, each morning students were able to experience the prestige and demand for excellence that Harvard’s Graduate Programs require. The program was comprised of four primary projects, each growing in difficulty and scale. The program was led by the head of the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the student populations were separated into groups of 8-10 students each led by an instructor who was a recent graduate from Harvard GSD. 

Project 0 kicked off as a one-day project where architecture students paired up with another student in either landscape architecture or urban planning and design (UPD) to create a lenticular. We immediately tested our eyes for design, our fabrication skills and our ability to work with others. At the end of the day, we presented our work.

Project 1 immediately increased the demand for work. Students worked on basic architectural elements such as rendering a plan, section, and elevation by hand and studied works of famous architects near the campus. Following that, we studied shade/shadow, contour, and triangulation, ultimately leading to abstraction drawings rendering movement and depicting an object systematically, graphically, and with as much detail as possible. At the end of the week, we presented to a panel of 10-12 critics who were all professional architects.

Project 2 moved into a larger scale where we had to create a room/space inspired by our previous work and our style that we were beginning to develop. This two-week project comprised of many drawings and 3D models, beginning to take into consideration scale.

Project 3 was our last project and the most intensive. My studio was assigned a site in downtown Boston that called for a center for civic engagement. Our site was on the water just off of the Emerald Necklace and just across the river from the Institute of Contemporary Art. The demand for massing models, vignette sketches, plans, sections, elevation, axonometric drawings, and a final model with scale 1”=10’; sleep was not a priority. 

Overall, this Harvard experience was an incredible opportunity with life-changing memories. I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in exploring what a graduate degree would be like in a field of design. I could not be more grateful to have a program that finally allows me to dive into my passion and what I believe is the perfect fit for me as an artist and mathematician.


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