M.S. 447 Students Become Urban Planners for the Day

Event: StudentDay@theCenter — Urban Design Studio
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.03.11
Educator: Heather Zusman

Students present their urban neighborhoods, addressing needs of various inhabitants.

Catherine Teegarden

Sixth-graders attending the Math and Science Exploratory School (M.S. 447) took their “exploration” to the Center for Architecture for a StudentDay@theCenter Urban Design Studio, a program that was tailor-made to fit their semester’s theme, “Sustainable New York.” Influenced by Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030, the theme brought students to the Queens Museum of Art to visit the Panorama of NYC and to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. These field trips helped them garner the skills necessary to complete their final project: a blueprint envisioning sustainable, mixed-use development for Public Place, a six-acre brownfield and former gas plant on the Gowanus Canal.

In the Urban Design Studio, students became urban planners for the day by designing a city block within an imaginary NYC neighborhood, keeping in mind the importance of compatibility, accessibility, light and air, and the needs and desires of its residents. Each student group was assigned a particular user group — families, workers (commuters), business owners, and the elderly — and was responsible for the plan and design of a neighborhood that would benefit that group. Once the students determined the features and buildings to include in their neighborhood, along with its general layout and scale, they got to work. Conceptualizing what their prospective users would need, students developed plans that featured subway stops adjacent to their local factory to benefit workers’ commuting time; libraries, parks, and malls for families; and a nursing home and hospital complex for the elderly constituency. After placing their neighborhood section within a standard city block, students justified how and why their design arrangement best suited their community’s needs. The Urban Design Studio experience will ultimately serve as a skill set for M.S. 447, which will become instrumental when students are designing and developing their vision for Public Place at the end of the semester.

The Center for Architecture Foundation offers Student Days throughout the year to K-12 school groups. Programs are adapted to meet the abilities of different age groups. For more information, and to learn about ways to get involved, visit www.cfafoundation.org or contact Catherine Teegarden at cteegarden@cfafoundation.org.

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 www.cfafoundation.org or contact Tim Hayduk at thayduk@cfafoundation.org.

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.

Students Explore the Middle Ages At the Center

CFAF students built a model of a town from the Middle Ages.

Catherine Teegarden

This fall, 14 eight-to-10-year-old students were studying the Middle Ages as part of their home school program, and were looking to augment their studies with a hands-on project about the architecture of the time. Since the group does not have a shared classroom, the Center for Architecture served as the home base for an eight-week residency in which students built a scale model of a typical medieval European walled town.

The program began with an introduction to new architectural terms and important elements of medieval building design and structure, as well as an overview of the general layout and organization of a medieval town. Each student then chose trades from the Middle Ages that they adopted and created models of the related house/workshops. Together, the group also built a Gothic church for the town, exploring features such as Gothic arches and the use of buttresses. Through this residency, students learned about architecture, the jobs, and daily life of medieval people, as well as developing skills in scale measurement and model building.

While each member of the group is pursuing their own study of the Middle Ages independently, through the Center for Architecture Foundation they were able to come together. In January, the students will complete the town by building the castle and surrounding walls, adding scaled-to-size people and other appropriate accessories. This new residency program was such a success that plans are underway for a spring program focusing on early Native American life in the NY area.

CFAF Preps Eighth Graders for National Competition

Students from MAT worked in teams to construct scale models of “green” buildings. One group built a spiral apartment building with green roofs, wind turbines, and a rainwater collection system.

Maggie Yolen

Eighth graders from Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT) are gearing up to compete in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition. The 19th annual competition fosters interests in math, science, and engineering by challenging students to design a “city of the future,” first through computer simulation using Sim City software, and then by constructing their designs in large, three-dimensional models. In addition to garnering invaluable computer skills, students are learning about sustainability. As preparation for the competition, Hau-yu Chu, an eighth-grade technology teacher at MAT, brought her class to the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) for two Student Day programs: Neighborhood Design and Green Buildings.

First, students designed an “ideal” neighborhood. Considering different building types, community needs, and neighborhood density, students collaborated to build a livable neighborhood. Then, under the guidance of CFAF Director of Programs Catherine Teegarden, students explored methods of making buildings greener, including incorporating renewable energy and passive solar design features. Teegarden supplied the class with a student-friendly version of the LEED checklist to help guide their “green” model building.

One group of three students constructed a spiral apartment building complex with green roofs, wind turbines, and a rainwater collection system. “Oh, and it will be made of recycled materials,” one of the students added enthusiastically. Another group explained that their model was relying solely on solar energy to power the building. The roof of their glass building was covered with small trees and shrubs made from green tissue paper. “It’s hard to design a building that’s all sustainable when you’re trying to consider space too,” a team member remarked as he added a shrub to the roof. While determining whether bike racks were in proportion to her building, one student described how the gym on the first floor would use treadmills to power a portion of the building’s electricity.

After completing the scale models and giving an oral presentation to their school, Chu will choose three students to represent MAT in the national competition.

Student Days are hands-on workshops exploring architecture and design, offered for K-12 classes at the Center for Architecture, Monday-Friday. To schedule a Student Day, visit www.cfafoundation.org/studentday and fill out a Student Day Request form or contact Catherine Teegarden at cteegarden@cfafoundation.org 212.358.6135 for more information.

Middle School Students Sketch Their Way Up to Becoming Pros


A student in the CFAF after-school Digital Design Studio works on his 3-D personal shelter using Google SketchUp.

Maggie Yolen

Three-dimensional modeling computer programs are no longer for those with degrees in architecture and engineering. In fact, you don’t even need a high school degree. Thanks to Google SketchUp, middle school students at the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) are designing 3-D models from the ground up.

11.17.10 marked the close of CFAF’s after-school fall Digital Design Studio. The studio, which met every Wednesday for seven weeks, offered students in grades six through eight the opportunity to learn the particulars of the computer program. Architect and CFAF Design Educator Carol Gretter taught the studio in the Center for Architecture’s Ibex Computer Lab giving the students a seemingly simple assignment: design a personal shelter.

On the first day of class, Gretter asked students to draw a picture of three things that they love most. Then, she encouraged students to incorporate these passions into their 3-D designs. One seventh grader — a self-proclaimed car fanatic — designed garages for the rare cars he hopes to one day own. Other students integrated their interests in skateboarding, cooking, and gymnastics into their structures. By the last class, students were navigating through the program with ease and even discussed upgrading to Google SketchUp Pro. When asked if he would continue using SketchUp, one student replied, “Yes, a lot. I might even teach my friends how to use it.”

The after-school program attracted students from the West Village to Westchester, and will be offered again as part of CFAF’s spring break program. Architecture Inside-Out, a class for third- through fifth-graders, also will be offered this fall as an after-school studio. Visit http://www.cfafoundation.org for more details.

Building Connections

“Building Connections 2010,” the Center for Architecture Foundation’s (CFAF) 14th annual exhibition of K-12 student design work, opened on Thursday, 11.04.10 at the Center for Architecture, and runs through 03.12.2011. The exhibition highlights the work and talent of students who participated in CFAF’s architecture and design education programs during the 2009-10 school year. This year’s exhibition also illustrates CFAF’s design education methodology and highlights the benefits of design education.


(Left): Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director and ex-officio Board Member for the Foundation, takes in Junior High School 185’s project “Ancient Cities Along the Silk Road.” Seventh grade students and teachers participated in The Silk Road Project, an arts and education program established by Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and inspired by the historic trade route. The residency was taught by CFAF educators Jenny Lee and Ian Harris.

(Right): CFAF Board Member and former CFAF Design Educator Jerry Maltz, AIA, at the exhibition opening.

Maggie Yolen


(Left): The exhibition opening attracted nearly 100 visitors, including several former students who have taken part in the Foundation’s programs. The exhibition and graphic design was designed by Poulin and Morris Inc.

(Right): Emily Uss (right), a seventh grader at Bank Street School for Children, shows a friend her work. Uss participated in two programs at CFAF this past summer, including A Room of One’s Own, where students designed and built models of their “dream apartment.”

Maggie Yolen


(Left): Students from the NYCiSchool in SoHo display their project, “A Case for a Green Roof.” During this Learning By Design:NY (LBD:NY) residency, students took on the real-world challenge of designing a green roof for their school. NYCiSchool Teacher Susan Herzog worked with Design Educator Al Kurchin to develop lessons in which students first investigated the feasibility of a rooftop expansion, and, after becoming experts in the field, invited officials from the NYC Department of Education’s Division of School Facilities and Office of Sustainability to their final presentation where they “pitched” their ideas. (See OCULUS, Spring 2010, “Raising the (Old School) Roof.”)

(Right): The above photograph is an example of work produced by fifth graders at P.S. 73x in the Bronx through LBD:NY and the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Culture and Competition After School Program. The program, modeled after AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee’s (ENYA) 2010 international ideas competition, HB:BX, challenged students to design a cultural center at the location of the High Bridge aqueduct connecting the Bronx and Manhattan.

Maggie Yolen

CFAF Looks to Green Future of the Empire State

On 10.07.10, visitors toured the Empire State Building with the Center for Architecture Foundation, the Clinton Climate Initiative, and other leaders from the skyscraper’s green retrofit team, which includes Johnson Controls, Inc., Jones Lang LaSalle, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Empire State Building Company. The tour explored the restoration of the ground floor, which is an interior landmark, a model energy-efficient office, the Skanska offices, the tourist staging areas, and the building’s mechanical systems.


The Clinton Climate Initiative’s Arah Schuur with Center for Architecture Foundation’s Jaime Endreny in the restored lobby of the Empire State Building. The Clinton Climate Initiative was the recipient of the 2010 Center for Architecture Foundation Award.

Emily Nemens


Frank Prial, AIA, of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, looked the world over for the perfect marble to restore the lobby. He found half the marble in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and the other pieces in Italy.

Emily Nemens


The team built an in-house windows workshop to glaze the 20-year-old windows in the building. Inserting a film between the two panes of the windows achieved a similar efficiency to creating triple-pane windows. After glazing thousands of windows, the workshop was being disassembled on the day of the tour.

Emily Nemens


Skanska uses their USA Flagship office as a model for clients to encourage more green building. They anticipate a payback on their retrofit after five years of their 15-year lease. All of their employees have views from their desks.

Emily Nemens


As tourists queue up to head to the observation deck, they pass a number of informational panels on energy conservation in buildings. The Empire State Building hopes to reduce their energy use by 38%.

Emily Nemens


Paul Rode, of Johnson Controls, took the tour to the chiller room, the water pump, and the steam room. The pump behind him sends water to the building’s highest floors.

Emily Nemens

LeBrun Travel Grant Recipient Richard William Hayes, AIA


English architect Sir John Soane’s London home (left); the site of medieval castle ruins and a hermit’s cell in Knaresbourgh, Yorkshire.

Richard William Hayes, AIA

In the spring of 2009, Richard William Hayes, AIA, was awarded the Center for Architecture’s Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant to research English architect Sir John Soane and the monastic suite he designed for his London home. Hayes received his MArch from Yale University and has worked as a project architect for Rafael Viñoly Architects, MR Architecture and Décor, and Alexander Gorlin Architects. Glenda Reed, operations manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation, spoke with Hayes about his experience:

Glenda Reed: What is your interest in Sir John Soane and his monastic suite?
Richard William Hayes, AIA: Soon after the death of Soane’s wife in 1815, he began referring to a “monk’s cell” in his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, eventually carving out a sequence of spaces he called the Monk’s Parlor, Monk’s Cell, and Monk’s Yard. As architectural historian John Summerson observed, Soane conceived of the suite as a way to satirize the rising fashion for Gothic antiquarianism, as the setting for a fictional alter-ego, “Padre Giovanni,” and as a poetic arrangement of spaces that explored ideas of the Picturesque. Although the literature on Soane has grown enormously over the past few years, his monastic suite has not yet received extensive study.

GR: Where did your travels take you?
RWH: I travelled to London and researched Soane’s house by placing it in the context of the architect’s career and English architecture of the Regency era. I pursued research in the library of Soane’s house-museum, where I learned that he owned copies of two novels that introduced the theme of the monk into English literature, Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto and M.G. Lewis’s The Monk. The museum’s staff allowed me to enter into spaces normally closed off to visitors, including the Monk’s Cell and the Monk’s Yard. I also visited several important sites related to this theme, including Soane’s suburban retreat, Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing, where the architect incorporated a monk’s dining room years before he purchased the three adjacent townhouses in Lincoln’s Inn Fields that became his house-museum. I also travelled to Knaresbourgh in Yorkshire, the evocative site of medieval castle ruins and a hermit’s cell, which Soane visited and studied in 1816 as he devised his monastic suite. Lastly, I visited Walpole’s Strawberry Hill in Twickenham as an example of the Gothic antiquarianism Soane sought to satirize.

GR: What has receiving the LeBrun Travel Grant meant to you personally and professionally?
RWH: Travelling to England to work on this research project was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and I am indebted to the Center for Architecture for affording me this opportunity. As an architect whose career has concentrated on residential design, I am particularly interested in how Soane introduced layers of meaning into this sequence of rooms in his own house. While his monastic suite may seem a jeu d’esprit of limited interest, it is my contention that the idea of the monk has wide-ranging implications in 19th-century architectural culture, evident in the famous photographs of American architect H.H. Richardson dressed in a monk’s cowl. This theme may seem far removed from practicing as an architect in the 21st century, but the ability to incorporate meaning, humor, and narrative in residential interiors remains important — can houses today aspire to more than formalism or containers for consumer goods?

The Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant was established to further the personal and professional development of an architect in early or mid-career through travel. The deadline for the 2010 Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant is Monday, 11.01.10. For more information visit http://www.cfafoundation.org/lebrun.

Center for Architecture Foundation Volunteers Share Their Stories


Center for Architecture Foundation volunteer Ted Mineau (left). Parents and children at a Family Day program.

Maggie Yolen

The Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) invites individuals to assist with architecture and design education programs, administration of scholarships and grants programs, and the annual exhibition. Glenda Reed, operations manager at the CFAF, talked to volunteers Lisa Davis and Ted Mineau about their experiences:

Glenda Reed: Why were you interested in volunteering with the CFAF and what did you do as a volunteer?
Lisa Davis: I wanted the opportunity to be in touch with the architectural community and share my knowledge with others. As a volunteer, I helped teach students in elementary through high school how to use various architectural tools, such as scale rulers. I also helped students with their projects, from designing their own Brooklyn Bridge to planning a lot in a city block.

GR: What was your time like with the Learning By Design:NY in-school residency program?
LD: Volunteering taught me a lot about the ability of young people to learn architecture and to care about its relevance in their individual communities. You could say my volunteering with the LBD in-school residency program was an exchange of encouragement. Some of the students needed one-on-one attention to both understand concepts of the assigned project and also to believe in themselves enough to accomplish the assignments. But each student that I worked with also gave back to me a confidence in my own architectural ability.

GR: Ted, can you tell me why you were initially interested in volunteering with the CFAF? How was volunteering at our Family Day programs?
Ted Mineau: I like architecture and I wanted to volunteer for an organization whose work I respect. Now I’ve participated in three events and the Family Day programs follow a great formula: introduction, education (slideshow, gallery tour, etc.), and then hands-on planning and construction. Just like real life! I especially like seeing the kids learning about architecture and then working on a family project to make something special. It’s great to watch parents and children spend quality time together.

If you are interested in volunteering with the CFAF, contact the Foundation at (212) 358-6133 or info@cfafoundation.org with your interest and availability. Each volunteer is asked to submit a résumé and meet with a CFAF staff person to best match his/her interests and experience with the programs.