Summer Design Studio Wrap Up


Students from A Room of One’s Own Studio showcase their finished models (left). A personal shelter designed by a student in the Digital Design Studio using Google SketchUp.

Maggie Yolen

Throughout the summer, the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Summer Studios offered NYC area youth the opportunity to learn about architecture and design. Drawing in new students, teachers, and volunteers every week, each Summer Studio approached architectural design in a different manner.

A Room of One’s Own Studio challenged middle school students to design their dream homes. These ranged from a three-level home in Seattle to a loft apartment in Martha’s Vineyard. For some students, the challenge was trying to squeeze a music room into the 1,000-square-foot limit; others considered the best placement for solar panels. Handmade bunk beds, spiral staircases, hammocks, and light fixtures were a few of the finishing touches that students detailed for their final presentations. Inspiration for the models came from visiting apartments throughout the week, arranged by openhousenewyork. Selected work from this studio will be on display in “Building Connections,” the Foundation’s annual exhibition of student work opening 11.04.10 at the Center for Architecture.

After becoming familiar with the history of bridges for the Bridges Studio, students in third through fifth grades explored Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. Equipped with sketchbooks and pencils, they documented how bridges work. Each day, students built a different type of bridge, taking turns testing each other’s models with weights. One student used 20 Chinese food containers to construct an arch bridge adorned with staircases made from recycled bottle corks. Another built a two-tiered bridge supported by corrugated paper columns — the bottom level would be for cars and the top for bikers and pedestrians. By week’s end the students could not only identify the differences between arch, cantilever, and draw bridges, they could build them.

The Intro to Digital Design Studio introduced students to Google SketchUp. Tasked with creating a personal shelter, they became pros with the software. One student designed a two-story tree house for her backyard, while another designed an underground retreat. Though it was difficult to pry students away from the program, the studio also included visits to the Meier Model Museum and the office of SHoP Architects.

Because of its success this summer, Intro to Digital Design will be offered as an after-school studio this fall for sixth through eighth graders, as will Architecture Inside-Out, a studio for third through fifth graders that investigates architecture through hands-on model-making, drawing, and discussion. Visit for more information, and contact to be added to the Foundation’s mailing list.