Design CoMission


LSW Architects, in collaboration with high school students from throughout SW Washington, formed Design CoMission in 2014. Originally conceived by LSW Principal Casey Wyckoff, who recognized the need to build a future workforce of design thinkers, the program provides students with meaningful design opportunities. LSW accepts applications for Design CoMission twice per year, ultimately accepting a dozen students to participate in each session. Selected students meet two afternoons per week and collaborate with professionals on a variety of real-world design projects, earning school credit in the process. The intent is to help area students gain experience in the areas of teamwork, creative problem-solving, architecture, professional communication, presentation skills and design software. The result has been a hearty dialogue between our staff and future designers that will positively impact our community. We have been thrilled to watch several Design CoMission students move on to pursue college careers in Architecture and Design.


Project Experiences

Design CoMission students have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects that taught them about different aspects of architecture, design, and client interaction.  Some of these include:

Season 1

Students undertook the branding of Design CoMission which included the development of the Design CoMission logo.  They also worked on a group project to re-envision an empty downtown Vancouver property (existing parking lot) into a mixed-use building.

Season 2

Students focused on the redesign of a historic building at 600 Main Street.  They created concepts for updating the building’s exterior and creating new uses for the untouched historic interior. Designs focused on revitalizing the exterior, enhancing the existing courtyard, and new methods for bringing pedestrians to the site. Students learned about site analysis and programming, as well as historic preservation. Their final project included a schematic layout of their proposed design, with programmatic elements and circulation, as well as character images to describe the spaces that they envisioned.


Season 3

Students began with a tiny house project in which they envisioned different demographics that might appreciate the tiny house lifestyle. Students wrote a profile of their fictional client and designed a tiny house tailored to their personalities and anticipated use.  Students learned how to use 3d modeling programs and about different architectural drawing views.

Next, they designed an addition to Sunstone Montessori School to accommodate an increase in student enrollment and better equip classrooms for early learning.  Students learned about site analysis, working in teams to identify an area on the site that would accommodate the addition.  They also used SketchUp to design the addition.

Season 4

Partnering with Journeyman International, students worked on a humanitarian project which consisted of an agricultural microhome community in South Africa for Heart Capital.  Heart Capital’s mission is to train township citizens in agricultural production to provide income and create healthier diets. Students worked in groups of three and developed a “cookie-cutter” plan that contained 20 microhomes (15 for citizens and 5 for interns), 15 agricultural tunnels, a community gathering center, and shared bathroom facilities.  The plan was created for a site in Paarl and is intended to be replicated across the country like a franchise.  Students learned skills in client interaction, master planning, site analysis, concept development, program relationship diagramming (bubble diagrams), drawing types (plan, section, elevations, etc), hand drawing using scales, vision statements, precedent projects, and presentation techniques.

Next was an adaptive-reuse project in downtown Vancouver that considered new uses for an existing building including office space, co-working space, or multiple food vendors.  Students used SketchUp to develop their individual schemes.  They also looked at the overall site layout in hopes of creating a better connection between the building and its surroundings.  The project introduced concepts in interior design, material/color palettes, historical consciousness, and 3D modeling.

in the words of the students

“Design CoMission is a group of driven students working in collaboration with the community to make a positive impact. They develop innovative solutions through architecture and design.”