Teachers Learn How to Teach Architecture & Design


Teachers learning about architecture and design.

Glenda Reed

Some 30 classroom teachers came to the Center for Architecture on 11.03.09 for “Learning from the Built Environment,” a professional development workshop put on by the Center for Architecture Foundation. During the four-and-a-half hour workshop, design educators Catherine Teegarden and Tim Hayduk modeled ways that teachers can incorporate architecture and design into classroom activities.

One of the more challenging exercises asked teachers to build a scale model of the Center’s library, where the workshop was held. Working in groups, they measured the room’s dimensions and drew scaled plans and elevations. Using the drawings as templates, each group transformed their two-dimensional drawings into a three-dimensional scale model of the library space. Walking through the process demystified a project for the teachers that could be daunting to a class of fourth graders. The event culminated in a guided tour of student projects in the Foundation’s annual exhibition on view in the lower level of the Center. One educator claimed the show “helped me to visualize what children are capable of constructing, and that these design projects can be expanded into whole units of study.” Teachers left the workshop equipped with new ideas and a classroom-ready activity packet.

This professional development workshop was part of the Foundation’s larger mission to promote public awareness and a broader appreciation of the impact of architecture, design, and planning in the built environment. The Foundation’s professional development initiative most often occurs in conjunction with Learning By Design:NY (LBD:NY), an in-school residency program that pairs design educators with classroom teachers. By educating teachers, the Foundation can reach many more young people than would otherwise be possible. For more information about LBD:NY and future professional development opportunities please visit www.cfafoundation.org.

Fifth Graders Achieve Platinum Rating, Or At Least its Equivalent


P.S. 51 student and Programs@theCenter projects.

Glenda Reed

On the morning of 10.21.09 the main hall of the Center for Architecture was converted into a fifth grade classroom. Students from P.S. 51 clustered around tables covered with brown paper eager to begin their two-hour workshop on sustainable architecture. Director of Programs@theCenter Catherine Teegarden introduced them to the role of the architect in the building process as well as basic green design strategies including passive solar heating and rainwater reclamation. Then, as lead architect, each student planned and built a model of his or her own sustainable structure.

Using an array of recycled supplies donated through Materials for the Arts, Perkins+Will, and other generous sources, students gave form to their ideas. Once their models were complete, the students then used a simplified version of the LEED checklist, SEED (Skills in Energy and Environmental Design), to rate their buildings. The checklist allots one point for each strategy employed. Ten points gets you a Green rating — the fifth grade equivalent of LEED Platinum. At the end of the workshop students presented their new designs to fellow classmates.

The Center for Architecture Foundation hosts K-12 school groups across the five boroughs in two-hour workshops called Student Days that introduce students to architecture and design. “Sustainable Architecture” is a popular program among visiting schools, as is “The Language of Architecture,” in which students learn to “read” the design and function of a building through observational walks and sketching. In “City Design,” students work together to create a model city based on planning and zoning guidelines they develop as a group, and students build a 14-foot dome in “Build a Geodesic Dome.” For more information and a complete list of the youth programs that the Foundation offers, visit www.cfafoundation.org.

Students Build Connections at Center for Architecture


The “Building Connections” exhibition is now on view at the Center for Architecture.

Center for Architecture Foundation

The Center for Architecture Foundation celebrated a year in built environment education at the opening of the 13th annual “Building Connections” exhibition on 09.17.09. The exhibit showcases K-12 explorations of architecture and design, with student models and drawings from the Foundation’s 2008-2009 Learning By Design:NY in-school residencies and Programs@theCenter workshops. While highlighting the students’ hard work and talent, the 2009 “Building Connections” also elaborates on the Foundation’s teaching methodology and provides a valuable resource for educators everywhere who are interested in bringing design education into their classrooms.

At the opening, children and adults alike marveled at a four-foot-square model of a Lower East Side tenement block circa 1900 (pictured), created in a 4th grade Learning By Design:NY residency at P.S. 150, which integrated architecture into the class’s Social Studies immigration unit. Students took care with every detail, from cornice to street vendor cart. Another focal point is a series of Frank Gehry-esque cardboard chairs made by teenagers in one of Programs@theCenter’s summer studios. (Although the chairs are functional, visitors are asked to appreciate their designs while refraining from testing their structural integrity.)

“Building Connections” is on view through 01.09.10, and will be accompanied by a number of public programs. On 10.28.09, educators and those interested in built environment education are invited to drop in for an Open House to learn more about how the Foundation can bring its special type of education to local communities. A professional development workshop for educators on 11.03.09 will guide participants through hands-on activities about architecture and design. Educators will walk away from the workshop with a classroom-ready resource and activity packet. For more information about these programs and the Center for Architecture Foundation, visit www.cfafoundation.org.

Students Design Their Weight in Chairs


Eileen, a high school student in the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Summer Studio, shows off her cardboard chair.

Center for Architecture Foundation

During a week-long, intensive summer studio (07.27-31.09), high school students designed and built their own full-sized corrugated cardboard chairs. The week began with a visit to the Museum of Modern Art’s galleries to study and draw important examples of 20th-century chair designs. Then, students worked in teams to make small cardboard models of some of these chairs, gaining insight into chair construction as well as the possibilities and limits of cardboard as a building material. Studio instructor Eric Ratkowski assigned additional design exercises focusing on design issues such as ergonomics, and instructed students to visit local furniture stores, where the students sketched and gathered new ideas and inspiration.

Ultimately, each student developed and designed his or her own full-sized cardboard chair. Working from their drawings, sketch models, and measurements, the students charretted during the final two days, cutting and gluing cardboard to create a chair that was strong enough to support their own weight — and had some style. The shouts of joy and wide grins that accompanied the students’ first successful seating in their chairs showed they had even surprised themselves with their accomplishments. Several of the chairs will be on display in the Center for Architecture’s “Building Connections 2009” exhibition (See On View: At the Center for Architecture), which showcases student work from the Center for Architecture Foundation’s 2008-09 programs. The exhibition opens on 09.17.09 from 4-6 PM, and runs through 01.09.10.

Students Create Walking Tour of SoHo


Center for Architecture Foundation summer camp students with educator Eric Ratkowski.

Catherine Teegarden

This week’s summer camp students joined educator Eric Ratkowski, Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) volunteer Anna Kostreva and CFAF camp counselor Alicia Salmon on a journey around SoHo. Students explored many of the neighborhood’s buildings to learn about the architecture, history, and present-day life. They documented interesting details, such as distinctive staircases and metalwork, with cameras and journals. As the group visited restaurants, clothing stores, and book stores, they used magnets to test which buildings were made of cast iron, observed how spaces are used (i.e., as a store or residence), interviewed managers about their buildings’ histories, and noted interior and exterior layouts. Each student chose particular buildings to focus on and returned to the workshop to do additional online research. Ultimately, they created an audio walking tour guide to SoHo that can be accessed via cell phone. Click here to download the students’ guide.

Summer Camp Explores Secret Places


Students in the Center for Architecture Foundation summer camp visit the High Bridge Tower.

Courtesy CFAF

During the Center for Architecture Foundation’s first week of “Secret Places” summer camp, students became acquainted with unique, beautiful, and typically unexplored places in NYC. Educator Jane Cowan led seventh-to-ninth-grade students on multiple site visits around the city to explore its hidden gems. Students created handmade journals, which they filled with sketches and photographs throughout the week. Highlights of the camp included a trip to the landmarked High Bridge Tower in Washington Heights, an important piece of the Croton Aqueduct system that first brought fresh water into the city in the 19th century. Students noted the intricate, perforated details on the steps as they cautiously climbed to the top of the tower. Then they constructed models of the water tower in a workshop. Later in the week, students rode the tramway to explore Roosevelt Island and took the ferry to Governor’s Island, investigating the island on bikes. The weeklong camp provided an opportunity to shift the attention away from the well-known buildings of NYC to other exciting spaces and places.

New Buildings New York Tours The Standard


The Standard, New York.

Courtesy of The Standard, New York

On June 24, the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) launched New Buildings New York, a series of new building tours led by their architects and designers. The series began with a tour of The Standard New York, led by Todd Schliemann, FAIA, and Tara Leibenhaut-Tyre from Polshek Partnership Architects. Tours began in the outdoor courtyard under the High Line and continued throughout the hotel to both public spaces and private guest rooms. Guests took in the views of the Hudson River and Lower Manhattan from the roof and the 18th floor lounge that is not yet open to the public. After the tour, cocktails were served in the hotel’s Wine Room. Approximately $4,000 was raised to help support CFAF’s Programs@theCenter — interactive gallery tours and hands-on workshops designed to engage youth and families in contemporary topics about the built environment.

The CFAF would like to extend a huge thank you to Polshek Partnership Architects for volunteering their time to lead the tours, as well as to staff at The Standard New York, and Andre Balazs Properties, who were exceptionally generous in hosting this event on behalf of the CFAF.

More New Buildings New York tours are planned for 2009 and 2010. Visit the CFAF’s website for information, or e-mail info@cfafoundation.org and request to be added to our tours mailing list.

Students Take on Manhattanville


Student proposals for Manhattanville.

Courtesy Center for Architecture Foundation

The evening of June 16 marked a commencement of sorts for sixth-grade students at P.S. 161 in Harlem. A presentation of models for a future Manhattanville was created by the students in response to Columbia University’s expansion in the Manhattanville/West Harlem neighborhood, a few blocks away from their school. Throughout the presentation, a wealth of knowledge was shared by the students who provided their own perspectives on how Manhattanville should be transformed. Ideas such as ferry terminals, hospitals accessible to everyone, recycling centers with green roofs, college dorms with practical amenities nearby, and open space were on the top of the list of programmatic elements.

The student investigation of Manhattanville was conducted by Jane Cowan, a design educator for the Center for Architecture Foundation. A partnership with the school first began when the students were in the fourth grade, and has continued as part of the Foundation’s Learning By Design:NY in-school residency program. The focus of the residency was to introduce the students to the history and architecture of Harlem with an emphasis on the inevitable notion of change in the city and in our lives. Students investigated the community’s history through its landmarks — constructing models of 25 significant sites, and writing and performing plays using those landmarks as the backdrop to historical and social events. Then they focused more specifically to the history of Manhattanville, where they researched buildings in the expansion area, photo-documented the streetscapes, and conducted interviews with people in the neighborhood.

A visit to Columbia provided students the opportunity to learn more about the university’s plans, as well, giving the students a perspective on the professional side of development and an opportunity to envision themselves on a path toward higher education. The resulting work was a synthesis of the many projects which took place during the residency. The students have been exposed to Manhattanville’s historic and architectural fabric and are informed of the changes to come. Their documentation of the area is an important record, and hopefully their memory of this neighborhood will remain with them and be passed on to the next generation of Harlem residents.

In addition to the participation and input of students and staff at P.S. 161, Leila Vujosevic of OMNI Architects and Hermes Mallea, AIA, from M(Group) offered their support, sponsorship, and time to the endeavor.

For more information about the programs offered by the Center for Architecture Foundation, visit www.cfafoundation.org.

Young Designers Flourish at Summer@theCenter

Summer@theCenter 2008.

Photos by Center for Architecture Foundation staff

Remember the excitement you felt when you first started noticing design in the world around you? At the Center for Architecture this summer, young people have a chance to discover this at an early age through the Center for Architecture Foundation’s summer studios. Offered as one-week sessions for 3rd-12th graders, Summer@theCenter studios immerse young people in hands-on architecture projects that introduce them to the process of design and help them see the important role architecture plays in shaping our environment.

Programs take place at the Center and throughout the city on site visits, museum trips, and walking tours. These trips provide inspiration and information for students’ own art and design projects during the week. Each studio investigates a different topic in architecture and targets a particular age group. This summer, elementary and middle school students will explore NYC’s “Secret Places” and create their own guide to these hidden treasures, incorporating photography, drawing, pop-up techniques, and writing. Middle school students can also develop a cell phone walking tour guide to SoHo, to be enjoyed by others throughout the year, and will be included in the Center’s Context/Contrast: New Buildings in Historic Districts 1965-2009 exhibition this fall. Elementary students will also have the opportunity to create Pop Art-influenced buildings in a range of media as they consider the work of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg, and others on trips to MoMA and the Whitney Museum. High school students can create a piece for their portfolios in our “Design/Build: Chairs” studio, in which students will construct a piece of functional furniture from corrugated cardboard.

Learning shouldn’t come to a stop in the summer, but it needs to include fun, friends, fresh air, and lots of creative exploration. Help your child discover their own design sensibilities in a Summer@theCenter studio. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited. Full program descriptions, registration and tuition information are at www.cfafoundation.org.