CFAF’s Student and Family Programs Focus on Middle East Exhibitions

A second-grade class looks closely at models in the exhibition.

Catherine Teegarden

Families engage in hands-on activities during their gallery tour.

Catherine Teegarden

Family Day participants share their buildings inspired by the exhibition on contemporary architecture in the Middle East.

Catherine Teegarden

Exploring the Built Environment: Architecture in the Middle East is an interactive gallery program focused around the Center for Architecture’s current exhibitions, “City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982” and “CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present.” The program, offered to grades K-12, is tailored to meet the ages and needs of different student groups, and is adapted to supplement specific classroom studies. During their visit, students participate in a gallery tour, using observation and inquiry to explore how qualities of a place, such as climate, resources, and tradition, can affect local architecture. Visitors are exposed to the diversity of new projects in the Middle East, viewing new super-tall structures such as the Burj Khalifa, as well as restoration projects that illustrate the characteristics of more traditional architecture. Additionally, students explore how building design can respond to hot and harsh climates, looking at the ways in which buildings create shade, using screens, overhanging structures, and greenery.

On April 14, the Center for Architecture hosted a Family Day in connection with the exhibitions. As in the student visits, families participated in a gallery tour as they learned about architecture projects in the Middle East. Visitors had the opportunity to expand on concepts introduced on the tour during a hands-on workshop. Incorporating ideas from the exhibition (including the use of skyscrapers, screens, bridges, and bearing walls) families designed and created their own buildings for this part of the world. Participants were encouraged to look around the exhibition to gain further inspiration, as well as to use the Family Guide for ideas, a resource that highlights and provides information on particular projects. Family Day was a success, producing a variety of inspired and interesting buildings.

The Center for Architecture Foundation offers Family Days each month. Student Days are available throughout the year to K-12 school groups. To learn more about family and youth programs, or for information on ways to get involved, visit