Foundation Explores Architecture from the Ground Up

Jennifer Golan

Last week, 15 self-selected 11th- and 12th-grade students from the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, Brooklyn Technical High School, and New Design High School participated in a “Build A Wall” workshop at the Center for Architecture. The workshop introduced students to the field of construction, offering them an opportunity to explore the trade through hands-on building. Prestige Custom Building and Construction donated their time and materials to demonstrate how to build a basic metal framework wall with a combination of door, window, and wall intersections. Tony Schirippa, FAIA, IIDA, AIANY immediate past-president, who first introduced the idea of the “Build A Wall” workshop, gave students a tour of the Center’s current exhibition “Innovate: Integrate.”

During the program, students shared their interests and prior exposure to architecture and construction while discussing future goals. Prestige employees gave a presentation of the various tools and safety procedures. Then students gathered around the 12-foot long “construction site” to take measurements of the loose door, window, and framing materials to diagram and craft a construction drawing of the wall. Throughout the event students got their hands dirty, drilling, measuring, and leveling the various components until a perfectly constructed wall frame with one door and window was completed.

Through this interactive workshop students observed how a simple architectural sketch is transformed into a tangible structure. Students discovered how to create a support structure, the importance of proper placement of building materials, and the magic 16-inch construction number — used to frame everything from houses to the tallest skyscrapers. Having little exposure to the construction world, Robert, a senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, learned “the importance of each little minor detail. How the importance of one bolt will be significant because everything in the beginning affects the end result.” With the help of Prestige these architecture-savvy students learned new skills and experienced the satisfaction of developing a design into a built reality.

Special thanks to Lior Golan, Bryan Pierre, and crew for donating their time and materials to the Center for Architecture Foundation, and to Laura Trimble, partnership programs coordinator of the Center for Architecture, for coordinating this event. For more information about the Foundation and ways to get involved, visit or contact Tim Hayduk at

CFAF Announces LeBrun Travel Grant Recipients

The Center for Architecture Foundation has announced the winners of the 2010 Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant, which was established to further the personal and professional development of an architect in early or mid-career through travel.

Diane Davis-Sikora,
Owner/Designer of DDesign Studio and Assistant Professor at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University, received a grant for her project, “Revisiting Penumatic Architecture.” Davis-Sikora intends to gain a working knowledge of the state of structural and material capacities of air-supported membranes by traveling to various locations within Europe where pneumatic structures are a highly developed form of construction.

Fiyel Levent, Owner and Principal of Fiyel Levent Design in NYC, will survey the architectural heritage of the silk road for the project, “Echoes of Dialogue: The Genealogy of Central Asian Architecture.” Her travel itinerary will take her through the Ferghana Valley, which stretches among various countries including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan.

Stephanie Zurek, Assoc. AIA
, Architectural Designer and Project Manager at Donald Powers Architects in Providence, RI, with her project, “Exploring and Learning from Indonesian Kampungs,” will take a two-week trip through the Indonesian cities of Jakartha, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. She will study the Indonesian Kampung, an efficient building type that can contribute to sustainable development, public space, and cultural diversity.

Note: The Arnold W. Brunner Grant deadline is fast approaching. This annual award funds a project that contributes to the knowledge, teaching, or practice of the art and science of architecture. The deadline is 02.01.11. Click the link for more information.