There’s no welcome quite like a celebration

Sep 09, 2016

Introductory Workshop is an orientation that provides design foundations.

Student sketching during the 2016 Introductory Workshop

Each year, before classes begin, our incoming students participate in a weeklong interdisciplinary orientation event called the Introductory Workshop. This long-standing tradition affords incoming students, no matter their backgrounds, with the opportunity to improve their design abilities while getting acquainted with our school and city. They meet with faculty, staff, and fellow students, tour the facilities and Vancouver, and are introduced to the design culture of the school—all before classes formally begin.

First gathering of the 2016 Introductory Workshop

On a warm Monday morning, new students enjoyed coffee and snacks while gathered outside the Beaty Biodiversity Museum before meeting with our school’s director, program chairs, staff, and executives of the student organizations. After welcoming our new students, the project for the week was announced: Groups were formed and assigned a unique neighbourhood in Vancouver that they would be exploring the following day. Then, they had brief tours of their respective studios before walking down to Locarno Beach for an evening BBQ.

Students exploring Vancouver neighbourhoods during the 2016 Introductory Workshop

The next morning, students met their groups in their assigned neighbourhoods and began exploring the city on foot and by bicycle. They observed the architecture of the neighbourhoods and considered how the history of Vancouver might relate to design. With the pens and notebooks provided, they sketched the buildings that inspired them. These images informed the studio portion of the workshop later in the week. The new students finished the day at the gallery of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, exhibiting student work from our spring semester’s comprehensive design studio exploring options for a new Vancouver Art Gallery.

Students in studio during the 2016 Introductory Workshop

The next few days saw our students participating in campus-wide graduate student orientation events, touring the Museum of Anthropology, attending a Pecha Kucha presentation, and having a pizza party at Wreck Beach. They spent more time in their studios, learning about the resources available, while transforming their sketches into large-scale drawings before preparing for their presentations on Friday. After contextualizing their drawings with some research, their projects were complete and ready for presentation.

Presentations and conversation at the end of the 2016 Introductory Workshop

The week of activities culminated on Friday. The groups presented their work to their peers and the faculty. The lively discussion that followed the presentations taught everyone, whether lifelong residents of Vancouver or newly arrived, something new about Vancouver. Afterwards, the celebration marked not only the completion of the assignment, but the welcoming of new members into our community. At the conclusion of the Introductory Workshop, our new students were much more familiar with their peers, professors, studios, and the city of Vancouver.