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