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YArch Summer Architecture Program

COVID-19 update: YArch is still scheduled for July 2020, though this may change in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If YArch is canceled, participants will receive a full refund of their registration fee. If YArch is not canceled, registered participants may request a refund if they are no longer in a position to pay for or participate in YArch.

YArch 2020: July 6 - July 31, 2020

Applications for YArch 2020 are now open! Learn more about applying.

YArch (pronounced "why-arc") is a summer architecture program for current undergraduate students, recent graduates, and adults who have an interest in architecture and design. It is an intensive, non-credit program spanning many facets of architecture study.

For those considering a career in architecture, YArch is a way to test the waters before jumping in to graduate study. For those who simply wish to explore a lifelong interest, YArch's challenging curriculum equips participants with new ways of thinking, seeing, and making.
The program cost for 2020 will be $2,200, which includes various supplies and materials, all required readings, costs associated with field trips or tours, and one to two meals per week. Learn more about applying.

What YArch includes:

  • Faculty-guided studio work
  • Visits to architecture firms in Chicago
  • One-on-one portfolio tutorials with a UIC faculty member
  • Guest lectures
  • Weekly theory and history discussions
  • Weekly field trips throughout Chicago
  • Training and use of the woodshop and digital fabrication lab
  • Reviews with guest critics
  • 24/7 access to the studio throughout

YArch's curriculum mirrors the structure and rigor of graduate education at UIC. The program's core is a studio project that immerses participants in the discipline of architectural design.

Beyond the studio, tutorials and discussions introduce participants to the basic history, theory, and practice of the field. A special emphasis on the graphic presentation of architectural work provides participants with the skills to create a portfolio for graduate applications.

The program capitalizes on its location, mining Chicago's rich architectural history while examining the metropolis as a site ripe for contemporary design speculation and experimentation. On sketching trips, walking tours, and visits to architecture firms, YArch participants apply new ways of seeing and thinking to their urban surroundings and gain exposure to architecture practices in Chicago and beyond.

YArch instruction is led by a core group of School faculty, with additional faculty serving as guest lecturers and jurors in studio critiques. Participating faculty have included Sarah Blankenbaker, Grant Gibson, Andrew Moddrell, Thomas Kelley, Bob Somol, Kelly Bair, David Brown, Sarah Dunn, Stewart Hicks, Allison Newmeyer, Clare Lyster, Alexander Eisenschmidt, and Aura Venckunaite. (For bios, visit the School's faculty page.)

What former participants say about YArch:

"The YArch program was a great introduction to many aspects of architecture—studio, history, current practice, academic research, and more. It allowed me to better understand the discipline and what my options were both in graduate school and the profession."
"YArch helped me build a solid portfolio that was integral to my acceptance at graduate programs of architecture. It was also a great studio experience; really worth it!"
"YArch successfully delivered many different examples of what architecture may be. Through exposure to different environments, I was able to start to gauge what my personal expectations of architecture are, or what they may be. YArch obliterated my preconceived notions of architecture and enriched my understanding of the practice."
"Guest lectures and office visits were awesome - I thoroughly enjoyed asking questions to the firm owners."
"I would strongly recommend the program. YArch not only helped me to produce work for my portfolio, but the studio professors also helped me to clearly communicate the nature of my work in the finished portfolio. The history/theory component of the course also prepared me to better understand how to look at architecture critically now that I am in school."
"The YArch faculty and staff were passionate, incredibly helpful and accommodating to all students, and demonstrated great capacity to raise students to the next level."
"Although I decided not to pursue architecture [after YArch], I believe it gave me insight on why it was not the right fit for me. This saved me tons of time and money and I appreciate the experiences it provided me."

What participants do after YArch:

Former YArch participants have gone on to enter graduate programs (in architecture and otherwise) across the country. Since 2008, YArch participants have been admitted into architecture programs at the following schools:

Columbia University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
Parsons The New School for Design
Pratt Institute
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Rice University
The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
Syracuse University
Tulane University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
University of Cincinnati
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
University of Maryland
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Pennsylvania
University of Texas at Austin
Yale University

Gwen Fullenkamp