Twice a year, LSW hosts a high school design program it calls, “Design Co-Mission”. It was formed in 2014 in recognition of the need to build a future workforce of design thinkers and provide students with meaningful design opportunities. The semester-long internship program aims to expose high school students to the internal workings of an architecture firm and empower them to pursue careers in design fields. As a team, interns choose real-world projects, collaborate side-by-side with professionals, and develop skills in planning, design and presentation.
Design Co-Mission meets two afternoons a week for two hours at the offices of LSW. Over the course of each semester, students will meet approximately 90 hours. Participating students can receive .5 credit hours toward completion of their high school diploma if the 90-hour requirement has been met. Work will mainly take place both during the allotted 2-hour sessions in office. However, students may need to work outside in office time to complete their semester projects.
There are two lenses in which interns are taught. One lens puts a focus on igniting passion, recognizing an individual’s unique abilities and talents. Interns are lead through a process of self-discovery, helping them to gain clarity about who they are as individuals and better define what they love to do. A second lens is on equipping students with the technical skills they will need for success. Design Co-Mission teaches universal design tools, such as diagramming, basics of drafting and visual communication, and digital 3D model design and manipulation. The combination of self-empowerment and technical understanding creates a foundation for students to plot their trajectory and future careers.
Previous Design Co-Mission projects have been on a variety of scales and are most often community based. Most recently, interns worked in small groups to create design concepts for a new building and gateway connection between Downtown Vancouver and the future Vancouver Waterfront Development. Interns presented their work to City of Vancouver representatives and farmers market planners, providing site plans, vision statements, and diagrams to support revitalization and connections between old and new. In their second project, interns worked individually to design a Day Shelter for City of Vancouver and Share, a local organization that provides services to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. This project presented an opportunity for interns to think critically and creatively about experiences outside of their own and to present their ideas to professionals who are invested in improving their community. Looking to the future, LSW aspires to launch a college-level, summer immersion program to support designers as they transition from the classroom to professional practice.
By inspiring creative passion, developing technical skills, and creating opportunities for students to participate and shape real-world projects, Design Co-Mission engages in the community and creates innovative workforce opportunities for Vancouver’s youth. In the words of a Design Co-Mission intern, “I created real world designs that could potentially have future impacts on my own community.”