November 14, 2018

University Launches Architecture Program For Trenton Central HS Sophomores

ASPIRING ARCHITECTS:Sophomores from Trenton Central High School visited the Princeton School of Architecture Embodied Computation Lab this fall as part of their architectural studies in the School of Architecture’s ArcPrep Program, an immersive course on architecture, urbanism, and integrated design studio practices. (Photo courtesy of Princeton University School of Architecture)

By Donald Gilpin

Trenton high school students are plunging into the world of architectural studies, under the direction of the Princeton University School of Architecture’s Princeton ArcPrep, a program featuring an immersive semester-long course on architecture, urbanism, and integrated design studio practices.

“Princeton ArcPrep is introducing some of our region’s most promising students to architecture, a field that has historically lacked diversity,” said Princeton University School of Architecture Dean and Program Director Monica Ponce de Leon. “I am deeply committed to providing these students — all of whom have an aptitude for architecture but lack access to formal training and support — an opportunity to develop the skills that will propel them into a successful career.”

The inaugural class of 15 Trenton Central High School (TCHS) sophomores, selected for their academic standing and interest in architecture, spend three hours a day, four days a week in studio at TCHS, studying architecture through a project-based learning curriculum. The
fifth day includes guest speakers, site visits with architectural firms, or career counseling, which might involve preparation for interviews and presentations, creating resumes and design portfolios, or preparing for the college application process and financial aid and scholarship applications.

Princeton ArcPrep is a rigorous academic program that helps participating students to prepare for college and to develop skills, knowledge, and awareness related to careers in architecture. Ponce de Leon launched a successful ArcPrep program in Detroit in 2015 while she was dean at the University of Michigan. That program, with more than 200 graduates, continues today.

After completing the program, Princeton ArcPrep students can continue to pursue their interest in architecture and design through an after-school Architecture Club at TCHS. Princeton ArcPrep will continue to support students as they transition to college.

Support for Princeton ArcPrep comes from the Princeton University School of Architecture, Trenton Public Education Foundation (TPEF), LENNAR — We Care Foundation, NJM Foundation, West Windsor Gardens, Sharbell Development Corporation, Eckert Seamans Charitable Foundation, and Mary Jo and James C. Hedden. Katie Zaeh, Princeton School of Architecture Architectural design fellow, is the program instructor.

According to the American Institute of Architects, of all registered architects in the United States, fewer than two percent are African American and only three percent are Latino.