Each May, 7th-grade students from IS 220 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, make their way to the Center for Architecture to present models and drawings they’ve created in a three-month school design program conducted in partnership with the Center for Architecture Foundation. For most students, these are the first architectural drawings and models they have ever made, and for all of them, their first visit to the Center. Having the opportunity to present their designs to a jury of professional architects in this setting elevates an ordinary school project into something with an extra sense of excitement and importance.
This year’s project, as a part of our sixth Design Expo, was a bandshell design. The project was initiated by David Mosher, an art teacher at IS 220 who contacted CFAF to help expand the program to other classes in the school and to host the final presentations. CFAF Design Educator and architect Howard Stern, who worked with students this year, served on the Design Expo jury, along with CFAF Board Member Stanley Stark, FAIA, and Ron Miller, Director of Planning, Design and Construction at Maimonides Medical Center. Miller, whose office is across the street from the school, was instrumental in getting the program started several years ago when Mosher asked for his professional input to set the parameters for the program, and give feedback to the students who were designing an annex for the hospital.
Stark has also been a strong supporter of the program, serving on the Design Expo jury for the past few years and providing encouraging feedback to the young designers. He remarked that he “was impressed by how sophisticated the teams’ form-making’ was, with each team coming up with a coherent form that was interesting and had a purpose.”
When asked about what they had learned through this project, student team members Brandon Jones and Jalen Crespo replied that their architectural design experience had taught them that “it’s always about the people – their comfort and convenience.” Their design, called the “Overhanger Bandshell,” used an overhanging second floor and elongated roofs to create sheltered areas for the snack bar, restrooms, and for the audience to enjoy the music. Fellow designer Steven Vavasis added, “For me the best thing about this project was being able to constantly improve on our design. We were always striving to make it better.”
The Center for Architecture Foundation works in more than 80 classrooms annually to introduce students to architecture and design. Examples of student work from the 2011-12 school year are on display in the CFAF’s annual “Building Connections” exhibition, on view at the Center until June 15. Architects and architecture students interested in serving as jurors at student presentations from another partner school, the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, on May 31 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm at the Center are welcome to contact Catherine Teegarden, CFAF Director of Education at 212.358.6135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Besides being a fun experience, these volunteer hours can also count towards IDP credits for community service.
IS 220 Design Expo students with Art Teachers Dave Mosher and Bessa Valdinoto at the Center.
The “Overhanger Bandshell” Design Team with their model and drawings.