Building Connections at the Center for Architecture

A colorful collection of architectural models and drawings in the front window has been drawing passers-by into the Center for Architecture. The work stands out from the typical architectural projects on view because it was created by 1st- to 12th-grade students from the Center for Architecture’s school and summer design programs. This year’s “Building Connections 2015” exhibition showcases a small sampling of student design projects from the 80 citywide classrooms that participated in our in-school Learning By Design:NY residency programs and 15 weeks of Summer@theCenter design camps that filled the Center for Architecture in June, July, and August. Through these in-depth programs, led by Center for Architecture educators, young people learn about the process of design as they explore the city’s architecture and design and build their own structures. Accompanying the students’ models and drawings are examples of the writing activities that extended the design projects into other areas of the school curriculum, such as English Language Arts and Social Studies. Exhibition designer Manuel Miranda repurposed the students’ writing and drawings to create a lively wallpaper backdrop for the 3-D projects.

The in-school Learning By Design:NY program, established in 1996, pairs a Center for Architecture Design Educator with classroom teachers to develop and teach a custom multi-week program that integrates architecture and design into existing classroom studies. On view in this year’s exhibition are bridges designed by 2nd graders at PS 42 in Chinatown and PS 276 in Battery Park City, including a replica of the Firth of Forth bridge, as well as unique structures of their own design. PS 42’s student letters to Washington Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge engineer, and illustrated bridge books accompany the models. Movable beach house models, designed by 11th graders at the Urban Assembly School of Design & Construction, are a short walk from the Nai’a Surf Shop and Fro Yo in the Sky retail stores created by middle school students in the Center’s week-long Store Design summer program. A wide range of building models on display include well-known landmarks such as The Dakota apartment building, the Basilica and Campanile di San Marco, and One World Trade Center, rendered by the imaginative six- and seven-year-olds who built it in eye-catching salmon and orange construction paper, as well as the students’ own designs for new buildings.

“Building Connections 2015” will be on view until 01.21.16. Stop by and be inspired by seeing the world through young designers’ eyes. For more information about the Center’s K–12 school, family, and youth education programs, visit