March 6, 2017 Architecture Students Invited to Visit Disney Imagineers in Orlando

Rachel Larson

Two undergraduate students in the School of Architecture have been invited by the American Institute of Architecture Students to connect with Walt Disney Imagineers in Orlando, Florida, and learn about the Disney design process.

Rachel Larson, a second-year Architecture student, and Michelle Blackwell, a first-year Architecture student, are two of just 60 honorees nationwide selected to participate in AIAS Imagine: Top 60-at-60, a prestigious program that convenes top AIAS members at Disney Springs, a complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

On May 19-21, Larson, Blackwell and other honorees will engage with Walt Disney Imagineers in a series of workshops, lectures and tours to explore the architectural history of Disney Springs and learn how to tell stories through architecture.

Finalists were selected based on academic standing, faculty recommendation and creative ability. To demonstrate ability, students were required to submit a self-portrait, with little to no creative restrictions. Both Blackwell and Larson opted for the abstract, submitting a 3D creation and charcoal image, respectively, that serve as imaginative representations of themselves and their experiences with design.

“For my self-portrait, I chose a charcoal image of a baseball glove that shows how worked over it was and related that to how I felt my design career is a ‘work in progress,’ too,” said Larson.


The competition, created in celebration of the student organization’s 60th anniversary, is co-hosted by Walt Disney Imagineering, a team of creative and technical professionals who design Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide.

For Blackwell, to have access to such a creative legacy is nothing short of extraordinary. “My dream job has always been to work at Disney World,” she said. “I’m looking forward to speaking with the Imagineers who will be there and getting the insider’s look at the magic of Disney,” said Blackwell.

The selection jury included AIAS President Sarah Wahlgren, AIAS Vice President Rachel Law, AIAS Executive Director Nick Serfass, NCARB Liaison Dennis Ward, AIAS At-Large Member Amelia Rosen, and Steven Grant from the Walt Disney Imagineering team.

AIAS is an independent, student-led organization that advocates leadership, design and service among architecture students.