The Built Environment Education Program (BEEP) San Diego is a fledgling volunteer organization that is an independent offshoot of an architecture education program called BEEP that was initially conceived and implemented by the California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the California Architectural Foundation in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Architectural Foundation.  The concept of educating children on the built environment is not a new one; similar programs have been and are situated throughout the world in various forms and names, however, BEEP San Diego is unique for its comprehensive curriculum that incorporates lessons and concepts relating to urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture.  BEEP San Diego offers an expanded view and definition of the built environment and the professional disciplines and methods involved in creating and effectuating change in the built environment.

San Diego AIA, 1980s-2006

In the mid-1980s BEEP was initiated and implemented by the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  The efforts were funded through the San Diego Unified School District’s Visual And Performing Arts Program (VAPA) that provided for two paid coordinators to manage the program including volunteer recruitment and training, and to assist in the classrooms where BEEP was taught. Program involvement extended to collaboration and sponsorship by the San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). 

VAPA funding for BEEP was eliminated in the mid-1990s, which effectively dissolved BEEP as an active program of the San Diego AIA and ASLA Chapters.  The program did not continue through any comprehensively organized volunteer efforts.  Individual architects or design professionals with an interest in the defunct BEEP continued to lead classroom sessions or special projects at San Diego area schools under the auspices of the BEEP acronym.  In the early 2000’s Rebecca Grijalva in particular, organized and conducted many of these special programs at Sunset View Elementary School and San Diego High Tech High School.

Some BEEP training and lesson manuals exist from this period and were gifted to BEEP San Diego by Paul Hobson, past BEEP-VAPA Coordinator, and Rebecca Grijalva for inclusion in the BEEP San Diego archives.

San Diego Architectural Foundation, 2006-2011

In 2006 the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF), the public benefit arm of AIA San Diego, split from the AIA Chapter and was established as a separate non-profit public benefit corporation.  The defunct BEEP program was transferred to SDAF as part of the organization separation.  In the Summer of 2007 SDAF held a meeting to discuss the revival of BEEP under SDAF.  The meeting was well attended by design professionals, however, no substantive actions resulted and BEEP remained inactive.

In 2008 Urban Planner and Architectural Historian Wendy L. Tinsley Becker contacted SDAF to inquire about volunteering for BEEP.  Upon learning that the program was inactive, she created a strategy for reviving and launching BEEP under SDAF’s umbrella of programs.  The strategy was approved by SDAF in November 2008.  Ms. Tinsley Becker was invited to join the SDAF Board of Directors and was tasked as Education Committee Chair. 

For the duration of her three-year term (2009-2011), Ms. Tinsley Becker worked to raise visibility of the planned BEEP revival by reaching out to planning and design professionals and allied professional organizations including the San Diego AIA and ASLA Chapters, and the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association.  Other successes included: five undergraduate students from the University of California, San Diego Urban Studies and Planning Program were recruited and supervised; a three-person Educator Stakeholder Panel was established to provide guidance; and creation of the BEEP Lesson Manual, comprised of 15 draft lessons teaching school-age youth concepts of the built environment.

In May 2010 BEEP was recognized as an outstanding educational program by the City of San Diego City Planning & Community Investment Department Historical Resources Board.  Award certificates were issued to SDAF in recognition of the BEEP Lesson Manual and program revival.  Subsequent to the May 2010 award Ms. Tinsley Becker began to plan for implementation and launch at San Diego schools in the 2011-2012 academic year.

In late 2010 a Steering Committee, comprised of planning and design professionals representing local professional organizations and academic programs, was formed to provide guidance, involvement, and support for BEEP’s implementation under SDAF.  Initial meetings were held with UCSD Extension K-16 Programs to integrate tuition-based BEEP lessons into the UCSD Extension K-16 curriculum. 

Subsequent to the Steering Committee formation, in March 2011, SDAF cut BEEP from its program roster. Ms. Tinsley Becker requested and was granted that all rights and use of naming and BEEP intellectual property developed by her for SDAF be relinquished to her for continued use.  Immediately after the program cut, Ms. Tinsley Becker purchased the domain www.beepsandiego.com and established a website for a new iteration of the SDAF BEEP that she developed called BEEP San Diego.

BEEP San Diego, 2011 Forward

The assembled Steering Committee members continued their efforts under the newly formed BEEP San Diego, focusing on the set of challenges, as well as opportunities, faced by the fledgling volunteer organization.  In August 2011 BEEP San Diego’s curriculum was launched at two San Diego-area schools, Correia Middle School and the Language Academy.  In September 2011 BEEP San Diego was registered as a State of California Public Benefit Corporation.  In December 2011 BEEP San Diego graduated the first student class of Built Environment Ambassadors at the Language Academy.  In January 2012 the Steering Committee was reorganized as a Board of Directors and officer elections were held.  In February 2012 lesson proposals were submitted to UCSD Extension K-16 programs to develop intensive learning for middle and high school students.  The organization, comprised of its Board of Directors and dedicated Volunteers, continues to strive to educate and inspire school-age youth about the past, present, and future of the built environment.

619.302.0425 | beepsandiego@gmail.com