D CRIT Summer  Intensive

June 5–16, 2023

Join us online for our renowned two-week Summer Intensive, aimed at those who would like to refine their skills as thinkers, reporters and storytellers.

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For practicing designers, this is a chance to examine the profession and its impact through writing and publishing. Clear thinking, deep research and engaging expression are vital skills in a contemporary designer’s toolkit.

For non-designers, this program offers methods and insights for understanding and writing compellingly about images, objects and spaces.

By the end of the program, participants will have completed several pieces of writing, formulated ideas for stories, and garnered a robust set of tools and approaches for writing authoritatively and imaginatively about design.


A range of writing genres and imaginative approaches will be introduced in seven workshops spread over two weeks.

Working individually and in small groups, participants will experiment with essential techniques such as interviewing, archive research, close observation, analysis and critique. Students can expect approximately two, three-hours workshop sessions per day, Monday–Friday, between 10am-5pm EST, for the duration of the program.

Read work from last year's Summer Intensive here.

Rob Walker will lecture on how to develop narratives around objects. Students will engage in close observation, archive research, and other means of data gathering, and then experiment with strategies to illuminate an object’s significance through storytelling.

In this workshop, you will learn some of the essential basics for creating audio journalism. Your options for subject matter will be wide-ranging; what you will learn is how to communicate those ideas most effectively through sound. You’ll learn how to write for the ear rather than the eye; how to deliver a story conversationally through narration; how to create narrative arcs and effective pacing; and how to use sound to elevate a story.

Design criticism is much more than arbitrating taste, it requires context and depth. This project will focus on research-based criticism and architecture. By analyzing local buildings—their history, design, and post-occupancy successes or failures—participants will cultivate skills in background research and use that research to make an argument, to make a case. We will pay close attention to critical essay structure, with an emphasis on robust outlines and strong ledes. Readings include essays from critics Michael Sorkin and Ada Louise Huxtable.

For this workshop, you’ll be looking for examples of the ways in which habitats built for human beings (cities, suburbs, parks, highways, etc.) have been claimed by other creatures: insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, microbes… We won’t be looking at the skills that enabled humans to transform the natural world to suit their needs, but the way that other animals have borrowed those transformations. How have the places and things we’ve fashioned to satisfy our requirements been co-opted by other life forms? If animals, wild and domesticated, are at home in an urban environment, what are the boundaries between the natural and artificial worlds? Do such boundaries truly exist?

The Speaking of the Streets Project is a two week assignment that will culminate in the production of a piece of theater built from scenes and scraps written by students. You’ll be asked to produce both a monologue and a duologue.

Our study of dialogue will serve as a training exercise to sharpen skills of observation and will eventually help us build this work of collaborative art. The project will allow us to present, in a kaleidoscopic view, an array of voices commenting on our current crisis from different parts of the country and the world.

We’re living through a period of upheaval and transition. We’ll examine how current events leave their mark on our conversations, our interactions, and our language.

A successful profile is an artful interpretation of a subject’s life. It can reveal the processes, inspirations, and biographical background of your interviewee—be it a graphic designer, a painter, or an architect. An effective profile makes implicit motivations explicit. It tells the story of someone’s life with accuracy and nuance.

Past profile subjects have included: Leo Porto, Felipe Rocha, Natasha Jen, Eddie Opara, Julio Torres, Adam Rigg, Alisa Grifo, Marco ter Haar Romeny, Mike Eckhaus, Sarah Zapata, Ti Chang, John Wilson, Craig L. Wilkins, and Mimi Zeiger.

This two-part workshop helps students see pitches from the POV of the editor, who in turn is dedicated to seeing things from the POV of the reader. A successful pitch needs to persuade an editor that the proposed piece will be relevant and of interest to the publication’s audience. Relevance means answering the question “So what?” The most compelling design story pitches have a timely news “hook” or are connected to urgent social, cultural, or political issues. To better understand this connection, we’ll approach design stories from the inverse direction, looking for a design story within a current news story. In the second session, we’ll turn those stories into pitches, to be reviewed by guest editors.


2022 Participants


Priority application deadline: April 1, 2023

How to Apply

Complete your free application using our Google form

Apply Onlineusing our online application form (external link)

Work Sample Guidelines

Applicants must submit up to 2,000 words of published or unpublished writing (such as essays, blog posts, or articles) about design, architecture, or related subjects.


Participants must have completed a four-year undergraduate degree or demonstrate commensurate professional or publishing experience.

International Applicants

International applicants are welcome, however, the College cannot provide any I-20 or other forms to nonmatriculated students. SVA cannot provide you with a visa, nor assist you in obtaining one. Applicants are expected to have fluency in English sufficient for engaging in meaningful dialogue with other participants.


1800 USD

Further Information

Find further details about applications, enrollments, refunds, and housing at the SVA Special Programs webpage.