Design Like A Girl Workshop


AIA Colorado J.E.D.I. committee and NOMA Colorado are proud to announce the success of the second “Design Like a Girl” (DLAG) workshop held on February 16th, 2024.

Originally founded in Washington, DC by the Washington Architectural Foundation, DLAG began as a mentoring program for young women interested in the design and construction fields. Joanna Schmickel, FAIA, has been directing the program since its inception. AIA Colorado’s J.E.D.I. Committee, NOMA Colorado, and Denver Public Schools collaborated with Joanna to bring the program to Colorado, hosting the first of three planned workshops in October 2023.

Design Like A Girl |
Design Like A Girl |

For the second workshop, a group of 19 aspiring middle school designers from varied Denver Public Schools were paired with female mentors from the Colorado architecture and engineering community. This workshop was designed to build upon the lessons learned in the first workshop. The topic of the day was “Engineering and Construction,” which aimed to introduce participants to critical, yet often less glamorous and visible elements of design.

Activities of the day involved lessons in how the different engineering specialties contribute to a successful building design, acting out structural concepts, and attempting to build the tallest tower out of spaghetti sticks and tape to support a single marshmallow. Other workshop highlights included a construction site tour of Studio Gang’s Populus Hotel and a lunchtime zoom conversation with the project’s architect, Kristina Eldrenkamp. 

Design Like A Girl |
Design Like A Girl |

For the Populus tour, students and mentors walked a few chilly blocks from CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning to the construction office of The Beck Group, the GC for the project. Beck Group representatives led the tour and provided PPE and lunch for the girls and mentors.

While on site, the girls were able to witness the energy and occasional chaos of an active construction site. They observed the unique tear-shaped windows and noted the fantastic city views available from the sky deck.  They could see exposed structural and mechanical systems and watch the huge exterior panels lifted into place. 

Design Like A Girl |
Design Like A Girl |

For the final challenge of the day, the young designers were provided with a wealth of donated materials to choose from and instructed to incorporate at least one structural element they had learned about that day into a pavilion design. Some pavilions were designed to shelter from the elements while others provided a certain quality of light. One pavilion was designed as a place to connect and browse the internet. Columns were the most common structural element, but several used arches. At the end of the day, the girls presented their designs in front of their parents, mentors, and fellow designers.

The next workshop is scheduled for April 19th. If you are interested in being a mentor or learning more about Design Like a Girl please reach out to Brittany Soler solerbrittany@gmail.com or Sarah Goldblatt sarah@sarahgoldblatt.com.

The lead organizers of the workshop, Sarah Goldblatt, AIA, Brittany Soler, Assoc. AIA, and Ely Merheb, AIA, would like to extend their gratitude to the many mentors who donated their time to make connections with these future designers and offer advice, support, and instruction.

Carrie Cardona, AIA
Sarah Goldblatt, AIA
Ely Merheb, AIA
Kendall Ruder, Assoc. AIA
Brooke Schubert, AIA
Rachel Lee, AIA
Cherie Goff, AIA
Gabriela Culak Wakulchik, AIA
Katie Spicer, AIA
Kate Thomas, Assoc. AIA
Kelly Rayon, AIA
Dania Morelli, AIAS
Mallory Esselman, AIA
Courtney Minter, AIA
Maggie Hua, AIA
Jenna Michieli, AIA
Noel Michel, Assoc. AIA
S.J. Acin, Assoc. AIA
Kelly Garrett, AIA
Cynthia Ottenbrite, AIA
Skylar Potts
Katelyn Wager
Samantha Hurst
Beth Cook
Christine Britton
Jamie Park
Caitlin Charlet
Claire Padilla
Claire Messer
Abbey Woods
Sarah Fisher
Kayla McDougle
Stephanie Scott
Renee Azerbegi

Special Thanks to:

About the Author

Anna Friedrich, Assoc. AIA

Anna is a Boulder-based designer and AIA volunteer with the Editorial Committee and Regional and Urban Design Knowledge Community. She currently works on restaurant, mixed-use, and multifamily projects with Bray Architecture.

© AIA Colorado 2024
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