Introduction to Architecture for High School Students Online

Amira Walcott, "Cubic Walkways, detail [Animations, rotations and renderings]. Introduction to Architecture Online, 2021 

Amira Walcott, "Cubic Walkways, detail [Animations, rotations and renderings]. Introduction to Architecture Online, 2021 

Amira Walcott, "Cubic Walkways, detail [Animations, rotations and renderings]. Introduction to Architecture Online, 2021 

Amira Walcott, "Cubic Walkways, detail [Animations, rotations and renderings]. Introduction to Architecture Online, 2021 

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Angela Simoniello.

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Angela Simoniello.

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Jasper Meikle.

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Jasper Meikle.

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Ryan Lo.

Summer 2019 portfolio project samples by Ryan Lo.

Introduction to Architecture Online:
Foundation Studies and Portfolio Development for H.S. Students

Program Description | Eligibility, Application, Costs, and Summer Kit Program Policies | FAQ

July 8 - August 9, 2024 | 5-weeks | Live Synchronous Sessions Monday-Friday, 11AM-2PM EST

Student daily tutorial and desk-critique sessions will be assigned to either 9AM-11AM or 2PM-4PM EST to accommodate time zone differences.

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024. Enrollment Deadline: June 14, 2024

Program Description

The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union is proud to announce our 2024 summer intensive program that features a virtual curriculum accessible to students worldwide. As an institution that is committed to the pursuit of excellence and learning, we view our current circumstances as an opportunity to advance our thinking through radical experimentation between various forms of online engagements, digital interface, virtual modeling and representation techniques. The pleasure of making and experimentation are fundamental to our discovery of architecture and the innovation of the discipline, as well as a deeply thoughtful form of social and cultural dialogue where the imaginary becomes possible.

This five-week intensive is designed to familiarize students with architectural thinking and design while developing a portfolio of projects. Students who attend the program and successfully complete all of the assignments will receive an official Certificate of Completion from The Cooper Union.

Instruction shift to virtual platform.

The School of Architecture successfully adapted virtual platforms of instruction in the Spring 2020 semester. 

The program will include lectures, workshops and tutorials by Cooper faculty including Mersiha VeledarJames LowderNader TehraniElizabeth O'Donnell and Lauren Kogod amongst others. In line with our professional curriculum in architecture, the core of the program is the design and critique process. Mornings will consist of workshops, seminars and learning about the history, contexts, and processes forming the architectural discipline. Students will work remotely while engaging virtually with each other and the faculty. Exercises will focus on the key principles of architectural design: geometry, structure and function. The goal of this intensive is for students to learn how to translate their ideas into three-dimensional form and develop a portfolio. 

Students will receive instruction in a variety of representational tools and media: digital drawing and model-making techniques, analysis and representation, computer modeling and fabrication. Weekly lectures will introduce some of the great works in the history of architecture. 

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Jasper Meikle.

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Jasper Meikle.

Virtual Methods

Through an iterative design process, students will discover the importance of developing digital proficiency through various methods of representation and geometric composition, while testing new forms of knowledge. The focus will be on how representation, the systems of abstraction that conflate problems of depiction, instrumentality, and imagination, develop the analytical tools necessary to describe and interrogate objects in the world and the creative intellect. Thus, we will explore how the representation of space operates as a mechanism that recreates the world.

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Jacob Albanese.

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Jacob Albanese.

These working methods will alternate between two dimensions and three dimensions and highlight multiple processes to guide the design and construction of a physical space. In addition to the rigorous engagement with drawing  and scripting, virtual modeling and imaging introduce complex geometric properties and phenomenological qualities, such as light and atmosphere, for students to develop an intuitive understanding of materiality and scale. Critical knowledge and deployment of these parameters will be tested back and forth between hybrid techniques in Rhino [3-D modeling], Photoshop [materials and atmospheres], and 3-D printing [physical models] as key processes in the development of individual portfolios. 

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Chandler Vogel.

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Chandler Vogel.


In addition to weekly design problems, this program will provide historical context through a sequence of robust seminars, film screenings, and weekly readings that will elucidate different ways to ‘see’ space across various scales and cultures. This dialogue is instrumental in learning to challenge the habitual by providing historical perspectives on the evolution of spatial transformation in architecture. A lecture series with accomplished practitioners will provide insight into the development of their work through various case studies that highlight their innovative design practices. Group sessions offer an invaluable resource for our students to advance through faculty critiques and feedback on their projects while being part of a larger forum of fellow students. 


Over the course of the program students will develop a set of projects in the form of models and drawings, practice presenting their ideas clearly, and collect their work into a portfolio. The design faculty will work with each student, individually and as a group, to review and edit their projects, resulting in a portfolio that may be used as part of the college application process. This course guides students to gain the following:

  • The ability to think precisely through the use of descriptive geometry.
  • Advanced skills and facility between hybrid digital tools in the making of architecture.
  • Technical proficiency in design software and hardware
  • Practice and vocabulary articulating the contextual, formal, and conceptual aspects of their projects.
  • A body of work for your college admission portfolio.
  • Exposure to a dedicated college faculty mentorship where lectures, tutorials, and critical discourse become key in future creative advancement.
  • Intellectual and critical thinking skills through college-level coursework.
  • The opportunity to enter the architecture learning community and interact with students from all over the world with diverse creative interests.
  • Make professional connections through unprecedented accessibility to an international jury of architecture faculty and critics.
  • High School students earn a Certificate of Completion from The Cooper Union.
  • Opportunity to be included in a virtual group exhibition of student work after program completion.

Course Timeline

Weekly design problems will be structured as spatial games with specific rules to enable students to encounter new ways of seeing, thinking, and making. 

  • Week 1     Software Variations: Points and Lines
  • Week 2     Modelling Plasticity: Object Volumes
  • Week 3     Hybrid Systems [Weeks 1 and 2 in tandem]
  • Week 4     Collaged Fabrication
  • Week 5     Final Reviews

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Rachel Sosik.

Summer 2019 portfolio sample by Rachel Sosik.


The program accepts current high school students as well as students who have recently graduated from high school. International students are eligible to apply. 


Applicants will fill out an application form including a statement of no more than 300 words expressing their interest in the program and one letter of reference. Admission is on a competitive rolling basis as space allows; successful applicants will be accepted based on all submitted documents. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible and before June as the program will reach capacity by then. Applicants may access the application here

Application Deadline: June 1, 2024. Enrollment Deadline: June 14, 2024 | Apply

Applicants accepted to the program will be notified on a rolling basis beginning in late March. No applications will be reviewed after June 7, 2024.  Applications should be submitted by June 1st in order to allow the admissions committee time for final review by June 7. Students accepted before or by June 7 are expected to confirm their enrollment by June 14 at the latest.

Cost and Fees

Program Tuition: $2,980.* Students will be responsible for purchasing supplies.

Application Fee: $40*

Online Summer Kit: See information in the section below to assess additional costs. 

Successful applicants will be responsible for paying the program cost in full upon acceptance.* 


Housing is not available during the summer sessions through The Cooper Union.

Online Summer Kit

Students are required to have access to a PC or MAC computer for the duration of the summer program that meets system requirements to run Rhino and  Adobe Creative Cloud. Please see our Hardware Specification and Software Installation Instruction Page for guidance on the required technology for digital design and course participation. Rhino is required and available as a free 90-day trial. The Cooper Union will provide full access to Adobe Creative Cloud applications for the duration of the School of Architecture Summer Programs. You will be sent login, download, and installation instructions shortly before the start of the program.  Access will expire immediately following Final Reviews. Students who do not currently own a computer may look into monthly rental options.

Laptop and 3d printer.

*For students who are interested in the optional purchase of fabrication equipment for physical models could look into this affordable 3-D printer and filament. Students may choose a filament color of their choice. 1 kg spool of the black or white options is recommended. 


Program Policies

Grades, Evaluations, and Credit

The Introduction to Architecture for High School Students is academically rigorous, but it does not offer college-credit. Individual assignments, class participation and attendance will be evaluated by the instructors. Upon successfully completing the course, students will receive an official Statement of Completion from The Cooper Union.

Successful completion is determined by the instructors and the administration of the School of Architecture and will be based on attendance, satisfactory completion of assignments, participation in group critiques, design work and productivity, and adherence to the program's Code of Conduct.

Class attendance is carefully monitored. Students are expected to attend all classes unless they are ill. A student who misses multiple class sessions may not receive a Certificate of Completion, even if those absences are excused. 

Online Class Participation

Synchronous learning and class attendance is mandatory. Asynchronous learning is expected. Unexcused absences can lead to dismissal from the program. In the event that a student is dismissed due to unexcused absences, no portion of tuition will be refunded. Students are expected to engage seriously in their studies through class participation, completion of assigned work, and critique. Disruptive behavior in any form will not be tolerated.

Academic Integrity

The Cooper Union is committed to preserving an environment that challenges every student to realize their potential. You are expected to provide your best effort and will be supported to produce original work of the highest caliber. Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s “work” (ideas, words, equations, computer code, graphics, lab data, etc.) as one’s own. Plagiarism in any form is not tolerated and may lead to dismissal from the program.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct is designed to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and the integrity of the college. It is strictly enforced and failure to abide by it results in dismissal from the Introduction to Architecture Online for High School Students. A student’s adherence to the Code of Conduct is determined by the instructors and administration of the School of Architecture.

In the event a student is dismissed due to violating the Code of Conduct, he/she/they will not receive a Certificate of Completion and no portion of tuition will be refunded. Students who have been dismissed are not permitted to participate in the remainder of the online program.

Frequently Asked Questions

I do not have any architecture experience. Can I participate?

You do not need any prior experience in or have studied architecture to participate in the Introduction to Architecture program.  

Under what conditions might a student be eligible for a tuition refund? 

If the program is cancelled before the announced start date, students will be eligible for a full tuition refund. Tuition will not be refunded if a student is dismissed, stops attending, withdraws, or does not meet criteria for the Certificate of Completion. 

Are there any specific math or engineering skills necessary? What about computer software skills?

Students who wish to enroll in the Introduction to Architecture program are not required to have specific skills beyond basic math and general computer literacy.

What is the attendance policy? What if I have to miss a class?

All programs are full-time and conducted on a synchronous schedule, Monday through Friday, 11AM-2PM EST. Daily tutorial and desk-critique session times will be assigned to either 9AM-11AM EST or 2PM-4PM EST to accommodate time zone differences. Attendance at virtual class meetings is mandatory and students should expect to spend time outside of class developing their projects. Students will not have access to the studio at The Cooper Union and are encouraged to organize their working space in a manner that is conducive to learning. Full participation is necessary to remain enrolled in the program. Students with 3 unexcused absences will be automatically dismissed from the program. In the event that a student is dismissed due to 3 or more unexcused absences, he/she will not be refunded for payment of the program. 

What happens after the program ends?

The Introduction to Architecture program culminates in a portfolio that can potentially be used for applying to an undergraduate degree program in architecture.

I am an international student. May I apply to the Summer Programs offered Online?

Yes. I-20 Visas and F-1 student status are not necessary to enroll and participate in the online program. International students are eligible to participate virtually from anywhere in the world. 

Are scholarships available?

Scholarships and Financial Aid are available to a limited number of New York City public school students who apply. Please email for information. 

Do I need to be present in New York City in order to participate in this online summer program?

No, students do not need to be present in New York City in order to participate in the Introduction to Architecture Online program. Instruction will be conducted online and access to campus and studios is not available.

What equipment and/or materials will I need?

All accepted students to the Summer Programs will be responsible to procure a PC or MAC and an internet connection to install and successfully run Zoom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and a free trial of Rhino. Please refer to the "Online Summer Kit" section above and the Hardware Specifications and Software Installation Instructions Page for more information.

For any further questions please contact

Back to all Summer Programs

* Except in cases in which classes are cancelled, all application fees and program costs are non-refundable.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.