The five-week immersive learning experience takes place every year from mid-May to the end of June. The first stop is always Mexico City, where students gain initial exposure to the local culture, seeing firsthand the works of local architects, artists and artisans. They visit museums and historic sites, draw, photograph and taste local cuisine. This immersive experience helps them understand the interrelationships between community, culture, nature, art, architecture and the built environment, all within the context of centuries of rich history.

From there, students travel to San Miguel de Allende, a town popular among artists, writers, and travelers for its stunning architecture and vibrant culture. There, they are encouraged to explore the city and neighboring communities, interact with local residents, and hone their artistic and language skills in Spanish.

Beginning with a common starting point, students are assigned a design project tailored to their individual strengths and perspectives. A student was challenged to design a neighborhood restaurant and cooking school; another a boutique hotel; still others used the same site to design a chapel, a single-family artist’s home, a recycling center, an arts and crafts center, and two private homes. Each has found inspiration in and through local culture, seamlessly integrating their designs into the existing community.

Kathryn Herrick, an interior design graduate, noted that her experiences outside of the classroom influenced the design of her restaurant / cooking school. When she and her classmates went out, residents would ask them what they were doing and show them special places they might not have found otherwise.

“I felt that the culture was very loving and I translated this dynamism and warmth into the idea of ​​cooking, sharing meals and incorporating sunlight, color, music and movement into the design. “said Herrick.

The immersive Mexico experience ends with a celebratory CASA party where more than 100 guests – architects, artists, writers, sculptors and other experts in the creative fields – challenge each of the students to understand and explain their work in different ways. angles.

“It was really interesting to get so many different comments and different challenges and absorb it all, to think about how we can include those thoughts in our design process and make us better designers,” Herrick said. “All of these different perspectives and critiques make you stronger.”

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