Architecture Immersion

 Freshman Architecture Workshop

Incoming first-year students get early introduction to studio culture

MARIETTA, Ga. (Aug 2, 2016) — As students transition from high school to college, a unique summer intensive program has given nearly 80 incoming first-year students a sneak peek into the architecture program at Kennesaw State. The three-week introductory program, called the Summer Design Workshop, acclimates new students to the studio design experience.

“Many students come [to the Summer Design Workshop] with the idea that architecture is about ornamentation, or decoration only, and they don’t really know what is involved,” explained architecture professor Saleh Uddin, who coordinated the summer program for the Department of Architecture.  “This workshop is the total experience. They become familiar with studio culture and learn the instructional methods that will be used over the next five years.”

Students explored 2D design with simple geometric composition to “learn the visual language of architecture,” said Uddin. Students quickly progressed to 3D design, using several techniques to explore surface-to-volume theories, and sketched free-hand observation drawings. Students worked with tools of the trade, such as rulers and proportion scales, to move their ideas from paper to scaled models.

“The workshop gave me a chance to explore architecture, and allowed me to be open minded to a different way of design,” said Justin Fant, who worked as a golf pro for six years before seeking a new career path at Kennesaw State. “I would be lost without this type of introduction.”

Besides lectures and hands-on studio time, the intensive study provided students with daily feedback and critiques of their work, coined a “deskcrit,” from among the seven faculty who worked one-on-one with students. Critique is an essential part of the architecture program, explained Tony Rizzuto, chair of the architecture department at Kennesaw State.

“The faculty really push you, but it’s for a good reason. They provide great critiques, and I have learned different perspectives,” said Jashalynn Maddox of Warner Robbins. “That first week transformed me.”

The Summer Design Workshop is a non-credit, non-graded immersive study that is optional for new students. A majority of first-year architecture students elect to participate in the workshop, now in its ninth year.

“The summer workshop is designed to help ease the transition from high school to our architectural education program,” Rizzuto said. “Collegiate expectations are very different, and even more so for architecture.”

While some students may have taken computer-aided design or drafting courses in high school, this is the first foray into architecture for most students, Rizzuto added.  

“I like hands-on better than sitting through lectures all day,” said Zaria Graham of Sandy Springs about her workshop experience. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I am glad I came. It gave me a heads-up on what will be expected in studio, what the workload will be like and how much effort and time I’ll need to put in.”

Students gained skills in manipulating their designs and reworking their ideas. They were able to digitally test their designs using software, as well as draw sketches and construct models using a variety of materials.

All of these elements came together at the final presentation and exhibition for parents on the last day of the workshop, Uddin explained.

Beyond the studio session, first-year students learned about time management, work ethic and meeting deadlines, but were also provided tips and advice from about 20 senior students, including members of three architectural student organizations, including the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), Alpha Rho Chi Fraternity – Polyidus Chapter (APX) and the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), who volunteered their time to help the first-year students.

“I like that we had the opportunity to meet people, scholastically and socially, ahead of time,” said Caleb Hester of Lawrenceville.

Students worked alongside each other on projects, ate meals together and became acquainted with their future classmates.

“Our architecture students now have a better understanding of the fundamentals of design, composition and drawing, which is the synthesis of the whole three weeks they’ve spent working together,” Uddin said.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit