High School Students Plant the Seeds for Change in a Local Playground and Garden

Juniors and seniors at the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction (UASDC) presented their playground and garden design projects at a Clinton Housing and Development Company (CHDC) building on 10.16.14. Earlier this year, Ashleigh Eubanks from CHDC approached Yves Roger, AIA, an architect and Center for Architecture Foundation Design Educator who leads architecture classes at UASDC, to invite his students to develop garden designs for a vacant lot adjacent to the CHDC site on West 52nd Street. After visiting the site, students were given six weeks to understand and develop the design problem through drawing and model making.

The Center for Architecture Foundation plays an important role in providing professional feedback to student designers at UASDC. Several times a year, CFAF staff and board members sit on juries and coach students in how to present their work. Staging the presentations at the Center for Architecture, or, in the case of the garden designs, presenting to the community that would benefit from the designs on its own turf, raises the bar for the students. Stanley Stark, FAIA, a CFAF board member and architect, observed:  What impressed me the most about the presentations was the fluency and poise with which most of the teams delivered their designs to the audience. The high levels of skill the teams demonstrated in weaving the client input with their understanding of the physical constraints of the lot resulted in such adventurous and creative playground designs.”

The young designers’ solutions ranged from a series of outdoor rooms that could be programmed for different activities and audience sizes, to an urban farm that uses a variety of water features to create a narrative as one walks through the site. Some students were influenced by the successful vest-pocket parks, such as Paley Park on East 53rd Street designed by Zion & Breen in 1967.

The Center for Architecture Foundation, through its close partnership with the AIA New York Chapter, has provided formative experiences for high school students who express interest in the architecture and design fields. The annual Walter Hunt Scholarship supports a New York City public high school student who will be attending a school of architecture in New York State. The Architecture and Design College Fair taking place Friday, 11.21.14, will connect students and their parents with representatives from more than a dozen design schools. We continue to seek new partnerships and opportunities that can change the way young people see themselves and achieve their potential. Please let us know if you are interested in working with us to help the next generation of designers, clients, and built environment enthusiasts shape their future and ours.