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Girls Build! is a unique program for young women and those who identify as female. Participants will receive hands-on experience with architecture and access to women leaders in STEAM fields in an encouraging and uplifting environment.

About Girls Build!

Our History

Girls Build! began in January of 2016. The program was intended to provide a platform for girls who are interested in architecture to explore concepts and specific skills related to design thinking. Since its creation, it has grown into a robust, inclusive program for leaders and critical thinkers.

Why Girls?

Research tells us that humans begin to form their identity and gendered abilities as early as 2 years of age but their career pathway options begin to shift around 10 years of age. Girls begin to distinguish school achievements and career pathways in the binary standard even earlier.

The Circle, a not-for-profit research group states, "Investing in the education of girls brings high returns in terms of breaking cycles of poverty and aiding economic growth—but it also improves children’s and women’s survival rates and health, delays child marriage and early pregnancies, empowers women both in the home and the workplace, and helps tackle climate change." This research, combined with countless others, is the main driver in the Chicago Architecture Center’s goal in creating Girls Build!

Why Design Matters

The core of all education programs at the Chicago Architecture Center is a reflection of our mission statement: To Help People Discover Why Design Matters. Whether we realize it or not, we interact with design every single day.

Good design Is invisible, but poor design is easily recognizable. It is important for girls to not only understand that they are working with or against design every day, but also that there is a design process to be followed.

Girls Build! not only teaches participants that decisions are not made by accident, it teaches them to become the decision makers themselves.

Getting Started

The Application Process

Due to an increasing demand for the Girls Build! program, the Chicago Architecture Center has enlisted the use of an application and required a 30-minute, in-person information session for participants.

Thanks to the generous support of funders, underserved students can attend the program on a partial or full scholarship. All participants must complete the application to be considered for the information session and program.

Program Details


Dates: Mon., July 19 – Fri., July 23 9:30am -12:30pm
Theme: Parks and Green Spaces
Description: Chicago’s parks, boulevards and green spaces are what makes our city a vibrant and livable urban place. In this virtual camp, students will learn how horticulture and landscape architecture has shaped our cityscape and the environmental impacts of urbanism. Students will complete their work in a final showcase by recording a tour of a park in their neighborhood. Camp held via Zoom.

Apply Now


Dates: Mon., Aug 9 – Fri., Aug 13 9:00am-3:00pm
Theme: Urban Gardens
Description: Want to fight climate change, feed your community and be a superhero all at the same time? Start by learning about urban gardens in this one-week camp designed for new and seasoned Girls Build! participants. Explore how urban gardening is building communities through sustainable design in this hands-on experience.

Apply Now

What to expect

Girls Build! Is a recurring program with varying offerings. Spring and Fall sessions require a 6-week time commitment with classes meeting on Sundays. Camps are traditionally Monday - Friday 9:30am - 3:00pm each day.

Program Goals

  • Social/Team Building: Code of Conduct, Journaling, Discussion
  • Project Development: Critical questions, self-identification, developing solutions
  • Goals of the Program/Social Capacity: Discussion, question strategies, peer feedback, translating physical to digital
  • Site Visit/Career Exposure/Role Models: Classroom speakers, visits to firms + sites
  • Skill Building (model, build, speak, present): Physical and digital modeling, understanding scale, drafting, rendering, social impact of design, self-advocacy


As of Spring 2021

  • Over 500 girls served and counting!
  • 20 architecture and design firm visits

Partner Organizations


    • "Thank you so much for allowing my girls to participate in this fantastic class, what an experience it was for them but also for me. You see, both my girls are diverse learners and I often struggle to find classes that will take them for that reason, plus where they feel like they are successful." – M. Gurrerro, parent
    • "Gaby is always sharing about Girls Build! at school. In fact, they are doing a group project where they redesign a local park ‘to scale.’ She busted out her Girls Build! skills and went around the class helping each student. If you couldn’t tell we love, love, LOVE Girls Build!. It’s one of the best things the girls have done since moving from California and THANK YOU so much for giving Gaby this opportunity." – Simon, parent
    • "Originally, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but after participating in Girls Build and meeting a female architect from Mexico, I think I want to be an architect instead!" – Citiali, age 14
    • "I have always wanted to be a model, and I STILL want to do that, but after Girls Build! I think I want to own my own agency, so I have control over where my image is used and what products I endorse." – Anayah, age 12

Take Action

Excited about incorporating girl-centered curriculum in your group or class? Get involved, now!

Apply Now

Additional Resources

This program is sponsored by ArcelorMittal and Herman Miller Cares


HermanMiller Cares