Summer Design Studio Wrap Up


Students from A Room of One’s Own Studio showcase their finished models (left). A personal shelter designed by a student in the Digital Design Studio using Google SketchUp.

Maggie Yolen

Throughout the summer, the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Summer Studios offered NYC area youth the opportunity to learn about architecture and design. Drawing in new students, teachers, and volunteers every week, each Summer Studio approached architectural design in a different manner.

A Room of One’s Own Studio challenged middle school students to design their dream homes. These ranged from a three-level home in Seattle to a loft apartment in Martha’s Vineyard. For some students, the challenge was trying to squeeze a music room into the 1,000-square-foot limit; others considered the best placement for solar panels. Handmade bunk beds, spiral staircases, hammocks, and light fixtures were a few of the finishing touches that students detailed for their final presentations. Inspiration for the models came from visiting apartments throughout the week, arranged by openhousenewyork. Selected work from this studio will be on display in “Building Connections,” the Foundation’s annual exhibition of student work opening 11.04.10 at the Center for Architecture.

After becoming familiar with the history of bridges for the Bridges Studio, students in third through fifth grades explored Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. Equipped with sketchbooks and pencils, they documented how bridges work. Each day, students built a different type of bridge, taking turns testing each other’s models with weights. One student used 20 Chinese food containers to construct an arch bridge adorned with staircases made from recycled bottle corks. Another built a two-tiered bridge supported by corrugated paper columns — the bottom level would be for cars and the top for bikers and pedestrians. By week’s end the students could not only identify the differences between arch, cantilever, and draw bridges, they could build them.

The Intro to Digital Design Studio introduced students to Google SketchUp. Tasked with creating a personal shelter, they became pros with the software. One student designed a two-story tree house for her backyard, while another designed an underground retreat. Though it was difficult to pry students away from the program, the studio also included visits to the Meier Model Museum and the office of SHoP Architects.

Because of its success this summer, Intro to Digital Design will be offered as an after-school studio this fall for sixth through eighth graders, as will Architecture Inside-Out, a studio for third through fifth graders that investigates architecture through hands-on model-making, drawing, and discussion. Visit for more information, and contact to be added to the Foundation’s mailing list.

Inside Alice Tully Hall with Renfro, Smith, Rosenbaum, and Gilmartin


(left) Alice Tully Hall; (right) New Building New York tour guides (l-r): Charles Renfro, AIA; Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA; Sylvia Smith, FAIA, LEED AP; Peter Rosenbaum, Assoc. AIA.

Charles Renfro, AIA, of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and Sylvia Smith, FAIA, LEED AP, of FXFOWLE Architects, welcomed New Buildings New York tour goers to Lincoln Center’s newly renovated Alice Tully Hall on 07.29.10. Throughout the tour, the duo presented the concepts behind the renovation.

One of the main goals was to work with the existing structure. A large slice was removed from the façade on the southeast corner of the building and replaced with glass walls, creating what Renfro euphemistically called an “architectural striptease.” The result is a lobby connected to the city with natural light and street views. Renfro and Smith also discussed the Julliard School’s expansion, including a new dance studio with windows that look out onto Broadway, making it one of Julliard’s most popular studios.

As Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA, senior associate at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, explained, in contrast to the façade and lobby, which were designed with an eye toward the public, the interior was designed to create a heightened sense of intimacy. According to Peter Rosenbaum, Assoc. AIA, of Fisher Dachs Associates, the theater design firm that worked on Alice Tully Hall, this was achieved by quieting the noise from the old air-conditioning system and subway trains, as well as streamlining the look of the interior walls. Rounded walls are covered with a paper-thin wood veneer that is backlit by a series of LED lights to make the room “blush.” According to Renfro and Smith, all of the wood for the space came from one Moabi tree.

The Center for Architecture Foundation gives a special thanks to Renfro, Smith, Rosenbaum, and Gilmartin for leading the tour. The next New Buildings New York event is a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses in Pleasantville, NY, on 10.02.10 in conjunction with Architecture Week. For more information and to subscribe to the New Buildings New York mailing list, contact

Foundation Fosters Life-Long Design Appreciation


Kimani Reid.

Glenda Reed

Glenda Reed, operations manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF), caught up with Kimani Reid, a former CFAF after-school program participant and summer studio intern. Reid is now 18-years-old and currently attends NYC College of Technology. He plans to transfer to Parsons The New School for Design within a year, where he wants to major in illustration with a concentration in animation. In the future, Kimani would like to start his own animation company.

Glenda Reed: How did you first get involved with CFAF programs?

Kimani Reid: I first came in contact with the CFAF at my old school, P.S. 9. I was volunteering for Park Day — a CFAF program where kids created their own designs for their ideal park. Then, I joined the after-school program, where we created our own designs for South Street Seaport.

GR: Was it the high school after-school program that focused on the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee’s 2008 design competition to re-envision the South Street Seaport?

KR: Yes. We visited the empty buildings at the seaport and then created our own designs for how the site could be used in the future.

After that, I became an intern for the Summer Studio programs. I participated in one that used Google SketchUp to redesign the subway entrance for the South Ferry terminal.

I joined the after-school program because I wanted to see how architecture can go hand-in-hand with illustration and 3-D animation. When we used SketchUp in the studio, it reminded me of how animators design — starting in clay and working up to a 3-D digital model. Architects have an even tougher time than animators, though, because they actually have to build their designs.

GR: Now that a few years have passed, is there anything particularly memorable about your CFAF experiences?

KR: I gained an appreciation for architecture. During one Summer Studio about waterfront design, we took students to a naval architect’s office. Before that visit I just thought people bought boats. Now I think about a boat’s design. I can see how architecture plays a role in practically everything, from building yachts to constructing subway entrances.

For more information about CFAF programs, visit

ARCHITECTURE 101: Summer Architectural Design Studio


Students work on models of their designs (left); a high school student presents his final project.

Maggie Yolen

The Center for Architecture Foundation recently completed its first two-week Architectural Design Summer Studio program for high school students. The course was designed to give young people a taste of what architecture school might be like, to help them learn about what the practice of architecture entails, and to help them decide if they might enjoy the profession. According to one student, architecture is “more complicated than I imagined.”

The class was structured like a typical architecture school program with the major focus on the design studio, supplemented by scale drawing, model building and digital design, architectural history, and an introduction to professional practice. Thirteen students from as far away as Rockland County and Long Island participated, culminating in a final presentation at the Center on 07.09.10. Along the way, students visited the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, toured offices of Thomas Phifer and Partners and Frederic Schwartz Architects and the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Photos from the program can be viewed on Facebook.

Course instructor Eric Ratkowski had students begin by designing a household object that then became the focal element for their studio projects — a 400-square-foot gallery and artist residence. Students were challenged to think about the interaction of private and public spaces, and develop a design concept that could tie together their object, their understanding of the site, and their ideas about architecture. Then, they worked together to build a site model of the project site on West 3rd Street and 6th Avenue. In reflecting on the program, one student summed it up: “I have a better understanding of what architecture is all about and even if I don’t end up studying it, I can appreciate it more.”

If you know a young person who is interested in learning more about architecture, there are a few spaces left in the Summer Studio programs Waterfront Parks for middle school students (07.26-30.10) and Playground Design for elementary students (08.09-13.10). For more information, visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website: To join the mailing list for updates on future programs, e-mail

Learning By Design:NY Students Design and Build a Rooftop Village


Students at the New Design High School build their Rooftop Design Village.

Tim Hayduk

Over the past three years, students at New Design High School in partnership with Learning By Design:NY (LBD:NY) have been designing and building Rooftop Design Village. This on-going, student-driven project currently consists of a wood shop as well as a greenhouse and deck that are close to completion.Future plans include building planters and a food kiosk for community events. Rooftop Design Village is a hands-on learning experience that adds a real-world component to the New Design curriculum.

Rooftop Design Village is a hands-on learning experience that adds a real-world component to the New Design curriculum. LBD:NY residencies often introduce architecture to students unfamiliar with design concepts, but these students are experienced. At New Design High School, class assignments include everything from designing and building a catapult to experimenting with lighting and furniture. According to LBD:NY educator Erik Ratkowski, what sets the Rooftop Design Village apart from other assignments is the large-scale and long-term nature of the project. Such projects require students to be persistent in their problem solving and patient in achieving results.

Many students across all four grades have worked in teams on small aspects of the overall project. “Students surprised themselves by being able to do something that they wouldn’t have known they could do,” said Ratkowski, who works with design teacher Brian Lentini. Ratkowski and Lentini teach kids technical and problem solving skills. Students begin the construction phase by learning how to hold a hammer and use a drill, then use these skills to solve open-ended problems. When the wind threatened to blow the roof off of the greenhouse, it was a student who devised how to secure it in a new way.

Design-build projects such as this show students their capabilities and introduce them to new fields. Scott Conti, principal at New Design High School, believes that “Learning By Design:NY is a doorway into professions that low-income, urban kids normally can’t get into — architecture, urban planning, graphic design. Our idea at New Design is to use programs like Learning By Design:NY to be transformative in these kids lives.” New Design High School wants to continue to ask students to design and build structures for the rooftop village project in the years to come.

If you would like to help support the Rooftop Design Village or donate your time to this Learning By Design:NY residency, please contact Tim Hayduk at

The Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) thanks Cornucopia Project, Loud and Public, and Open Road for being instrumental in bringing together knowledge, resources, and enthusiasm to the project. Also a special thank you to Jason Spodek of City Lumber who donated all of the building materials that will make this project a built reality. The CFAF is very grateful to have received funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

Bronx Museum Hosts 3 Public Schools for Final Presentation of ENYA Challenge


Jaime Endreny, executive director of the Center for Architecture Foundation critiques high school students’ work (left); student shows portfolio to Yvonne Chang, AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee member and one of the HB:BX competition organizers.

Jessica Sheridan

On June 10, The Bronx Museum of the Arts hosted students from P.S. 73, the High School of Art and Design, and the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College to share their ideas for the future of Highbridge Park in the Bronx. As described previously (see “Youngsters Strengthen Bronx Pride with ENYA Challenge,” by Glenda Reed, e-Oculus, 05.18.10), 5th graders from P.S. 73 participated in a Learning By Design:NY (LBD:NY) after-school program studying their Highbridge neighborhood in preparation for tackling the AIANY Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) Committee’s 2010 design challenge — re-envisioning an arts center on the historic High Bridge, based on the HB:BX Building Cultural Infrastructure competition. Simultaneously, LBD:NY invited students from the High School of Art and Design and the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College to address ENYA’s design challenge with their classroom teachers. The result was an evening of sharing ideas among the students as well as to a jury of design and education professionals. Yvonne Chang, juror and ENYA member, commented that the student designs were as successful as those of the professionals who submitted to the actual competition. The group presentations and projects not only demonstrated students’ design skills, but also expressed the deep understanding they developed for this neighborhood and its surroundings.

Bringing together three schools to celebrate and share design ideas was a great moment for LBD:NY and one that exemplifies our educational goals. The collaborative event showcased the power design has to bring people of all ages together to appreciate and improve our built environment and our communities.

To download the High Bridge Neighborhood Guide By Cell Audio Tour created by the 5th graders at P.S. 73 through LBD:NY, visit

Read the article written about the event in The Bronx Free Press here.

The P.S. 73 after school program was supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with special thanks to Councilmember Helen Foster for her generosity.

New Buildings New York: Window into 100 11th Ave

Event: New Buildings New York Tour of 100 11th Ave
Location: 100 11th Avenue (corner of West 19th Street)
Tour Guides: Francois Leininger — Atelier Jean Nouvel; John Beyer, FAIA — Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
Organizers: Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF)


View from inside 100 11th Ave.

Timothy Schenck,

Francois Leininger of Ateliers Jean Nouvel said Jean Nouvel, Hon. FAIA, was inspired by the Hudson River on the New Buildings New York tour of 100 11th Avenue. Nouvel envisioned a façade made of windows of different sizes, shapes, colors, and angles that would mirror the river with as many reflections and colors as possible throughout the day. The challenge was to turn this idea into a feasible design. The result is 1,600 windows in 32 different sizes.

From inside a model apartment on the eighth floor, tour participants examined the window system and took in the views of the river and city skyline. The windows are assembled into 37-foot-long “mega panels” constructed in China with the glass preinstalled (the panel lengths were limited by the dimensions of shipping containers). According to John Beyer, FAIA, of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, each mega panel is outfitted with aluminum on the exterior, which is mirrored by a steel structure on the interior. The steel, painted to mimic its aluminum counterpart, supports the building.

Each floor of the luxury condominium has four apartments oriented to maximize views of the river, and tour participants explored several of them. Punched buildings on the sides and rear of the building looked like paintings: framing curated views of the city.

The tour finished with refreshments in the top floor penthouse and roof terrace while the sun set over the Hudson River. The Center for Architecture Foundation would like to give a special thanks to Leininger and Beyer for making this evening possible. All New Buildings New York proceeds benefit youth and family programs at the Center for Architecture. If you are interested in attending future New Buildings New York tours, contact and ask to be put on the mailing list. For more information, visit the Center for Architecture Foundation‘s website.

Youngsters Strengthen Bronx Pride with ENYA Challenge


Drawings of neighborhood landmarks (left); fifth-grader Tammy with nail salon model.

Glenda Reed

Fifth-graders in a Learning By Design:NY after school program are studying their own Highbridge neighborhood in preparation for tackling the AIANY Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) Committee’s 2010 design challenge — re-envisioning an arts center on the historic High Bridge, based on the HB:BX Building Cultural Infrastructure competition. Through walking tours, site visits, and research around P.S. 73 in the Bronx, students have identified official landmarks in their community, such as Yankee Stadium, as well as personal, “unofficial” landmarks, such as Nelson Park. According to student Najae, neighbors gather together at Nelson Park for local basketball tournaments where crowds “oooh” and “ahhh.” After the games are over there is a big celebration and “no one gets mad at whoever loses.” The Bronx Museum of Art, the Andrew Freedman Home, Jason’s Bodega, and graffiti memorials are among the selected sites. Using historical facts, architectural information, and personal narrative, students are writing, recording, and publishing a cell phone audio tour to these neighborhood landmarks.

Having informed themselves about their community, students practiced their design skills by re-imagining an empty lot a few blocks from their school. How should this lot be used? What does the community need? Tammy has chosen to design a nail salon. Ki-ara and Tracy are designing a Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts headquarters. This exercise will be used as a reference point for the ENYA challenge.

These in-depth neighborhood studies will culminate in the students designing an arts center for the High Bridge. Following the basic guidelines professionals adhered to in the official ENYA ideas competition, P.S. 73 fifth-graders will re-envision the use of the historic High Bridge structure as cultural resource for the local community. Drawings and models created in the P.S. 73 after school program will be on display at the Bronx Museum of the Arts 06.03-06.10, alongside ideas from the High School for Art and Design and the High School of Math, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York. The student-created walking tour will also be available at the Bronx Museum, as well as at the ENYA competition exhibition at the Center for Architecture this fall.

More than a new lens to their community and a channel for civically minded creativity, the P.S. 73 after school program has shown students new possibilities for their lives. Najae now wants to be an architect. Among the many dreams she has for her future, she would like to “work at the Bronx Museum and share my knowledge so that kids can one day be an architect like me.”

The P.S. 73 after school program has been greatly enriched by the Foundation’s collaboration with ENYA. Special thanks to committee member Brandon Cook for volunteering his time and expertise.

Also, special thanks to the Bronx Museum of the Arts for helping enable the program to grow, as well as providing space in the museum to hang the show, featuring work by the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, and the High School for Art and Design, in addition to P.S. 73. The program was supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Finally, special thanks to Councilmember Helen Foster for her generosity.

For more information about having a Learning By Design:NY program in your school, visit or contact Tim Hayduk at

New Buildings New York: Bank of America Tower Tour

New Buildings New York tour goers were introduced to the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park by Robert Fox, AIA, of Cook+Fox, E.J. Lee of Gensler, and John Lijewski of Bank of America. In a panel discussion they described the environmentally sustainable choices in the design and construction of this skyscraper that also aimed to increase the productivity of the workforce housed inside.

Fox highlighted the cogeneration plant that produces part of the base-load energy requirements for the tower. The onsite plant significantly reduces the energy loss associated with traditional offsite energy plants. During peak hours of the day, the plant helps to offset the building’s energy needs from outside sources, drastically reducing overall energy costs. During low-use hours, excess energy is used to create what Lijewski called “the largest ice cube tray in the world” from reclaimed rainwater. These large ice deposits help cool the building during peak load hours.

Lee explained the importance of views and natural light to create a positive and productive work environment. Fox fielded concerns regarding heat loss and energy costs associated with an exterior wall made from floor-to-ceiling glass. According to Fox, a large amount of insulation is achieved by small ceramic disks attached to the glass. Tour goers visited a typical office floor where they were able to inspect these disks, which are smaller than the tip of a pinky finger and do not obstruct views. Interior walls are made of clear glass wherever possible to maintain views and share natural light. The building also has personal air vents that allow occupants to control their own temperature.

New Buildings New York is a series of exceptional new building tours led by their architects and designers. The next tour will be of the 100 11th residences by Ateliers Jean Nouvel with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners on Thursday, 05.13.10, from 6:00-8:00pm. For more information visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website at

Theater Design Studio is Inspired by Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Event: Studio@theCenter — Theater Design
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.29-04.01.10
Educator: Jane Cowan — Design Educator


Tour of Rose Cinema, A Nameless Theater, designed by Tammuz (4th grade).

Photos by Glenda Reed

After getting behind the scenes tours of theaters around the city, young designers in the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Studio@theCenter program “Theater Design” created their own tabletop puppet theaters. The studio began at the Center for Architecture where design educator Jane Cowan facilitated a discussion on theater as a design typology. The group then headed to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for a tour led by Sharon Lehner, director of archives, who pointed out architectural elements such as the trap doors and raked seating in the Howard Gilman Opera House and the signature red proscenium arch in the Rose Cinema, which was renovated by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in 1997. The next day, the studio group toured New York University’s Skirball Center led by Amy Coombs, director of operations. The two tours allowed students to compare and contrast a historic theater with a contemporary one.

At the end of the program students designed their own theaters. Tragedy Theater, designed by fourth-grader Lev, is a place where only tragedies are meant to be performed. A Nameless Theatre includes a trap door on stage, balcony seating, and a red proscenium arch inspired by the Rose Cinema. According to fourth-grade designer, Tammuz, the choice of the red proscenium was also influenced by Jean Guy Lecat’s theory (as described by Lehner) that the color red signifies the last color the human eye sees before darkness. The model for A Nameless Theatre will be on display at NYU’s Skirball Center for family performances on 04.17.10 and the weekend of 05.08.10. To see pictures of the theater design studio trips and projects, visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website.

The Center for Architecture Foundation holds architecture and design studios for students in grades 3-12 during school vacations. This year’s summer vacation offerings include a two-week architecture studio intensive for high school students; a bridge design workshop; and a number of digital design programs focusing on Google SketchUp. A list of upcoming summer studio programs can be found online here.