HAMPTON, Va. - (August 4, 2020) – The Hampton University Department of Architecture hosted its 2nd Annual Summer Design Camp – Archi Camp – June 22 through 26. This year’s camp was completely virtual due to COVID-19.
“We are monitoring the COVID-19 crisis closely, and even though these are challenging times, it is important to continue educating the youth in our community. Archi Camp is important for our local middle school students who are interested in the exciting world of architecture,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “Hampton University is leading the way in innovation and using virtual technology to ensure tomorrow’s leaders continue to thrive.”
The purpose of Archi Camp is twofold: to be an introduction for local middle school students to the world of architecture, and to serve as a bridge between Hampton University and local communities. This program also hopes to foster dialogue in the local Hampton Roads community about the power of design, and to inspire more young students of color to apply to architecture schools.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the safety of everyone on campus, Hampton University cancelled all on-campus summer activities. With economic futures affected as well, corporate financial support for the camp quickly faded. Assistant Professor for the Department of Architecture, Laura Battaglia, Camp Administrator, as well as a licensed professional architect, was not dissuaded. “Architecture is a hands-on profession and I wasn’t sure how to teach rising 8th and 9th graders the basics through a screen,” said Battaglia. “But I knew that by June, there were talented kids in quarantine who might benefit from a little architecture. If nothing else, it would provide them an academic distraction from other stay-at-home entertainment.”
This year’s camp was able to incorporate the current public situation by studying what community means as an architect in the age of social distancing. The students were able to work with a real client throughout the week – Ms. Ericka Ward of Divine Concept Group, Inc.
“Our participation as the 2020 virtual Archi Camp ‘client’ was a privilege that made what was once a dream more of a reality for our organization. DCG's Exceptional Young Achievers initiatives involve sharing in the positive development of our youth, and Archi Camp afforded us the opportunity to contribute towards this mission despite the challenges of COVID-19. The students of HU's Arch Camp were motivated, intuitive, imaginative and exceptionally creative! They were able to assimilate complex concepts and elaborate on what they learned with visual examples. The verbal presentations were exceptionally delivered and at one point during the final presentations of their models and renderings, I was literally brought to tears. In a week, the phenomenal gifts of these young people blossomed and they truly brought ‘life’ to our vision. It is always meaningful to be involved in initiatives that give back to the young people in our community,” said Ward. “ Special thanks to Ms. Laura Battaglia for allowing our organization along with the ‘Bemis U’ HU architecture alumni organization to join forces in participation with other volunteers in such a meaningful experience that undoubtedly inspired the amazing talent of Hampton Roads’ next generation of architects!”
Archi Camp also partnered with LaRae Snoddy from Hampton University’s Educational Talent Search program, and Mia Moore from Spratley Gifted Center who very quickly found 20 interested and eager students.
To accommodate the altered structure for the camp, Battaglia reached out to volunteers who helped deliver supplies to every camper’s home. Curriculum was also adjusted to correspond to the new mode of learning.
Throughout the week, campers learned how to think and see like architects and how to engage in the creative process of designing. By the end of the week, they had designed a conceptual site plan and building for Ms. Ward’s proposed Community Center in Hampton, VA.
At its core, Archi Camp is about empowering local students to “think big.” This year was no exception.
“My son, Jeremiah truly enjoyed Archi Camp. I was a little worried when I initially saw the schedule, but it was engaging. If they can keep Jeremiah engaged, they can keep anyone engaged! Job well done,” said Renita Bren, mom of Jeremiah who participated in the 2020 Virtual Archi Camp.