Youth Explore Architecture at K-12 Summer Design Programs

Each summer, thanks to a program launched in 2005 that continues to expand each year, the Center for Architecture offers an extensive slate of design programs for students entering grades 3-12. This season includes 19 individual, one-week- and two-week-long programs serving more than 290 students in elementary, middle, and high school. At each program, the Center for Architecture’s design educators lead students through the design process on a particular theme, encouraging a sense of curiosity towards observation, drawing, and modeling. Each week culminates with a final presentation for students to share their hard work and creative designs with parents, friends, and family.

This summer, the Center for Architecture awarded more than $18,000 in need-based scholarships to 40 students, thanks to grant funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, generous donations from donors, and proceeds from Guess-A-Sketch and the Annual Golf Classic. With this crucial support, enthusiastic students are given a chance to explore a range of architectural topics, in classes including Skyscrapers, Bridges, Castles & Forts, Survival Architecture, Freehand Drawing, Tree Houses, Subway Architecture, Fairytale Architecture, Nomadic Architecture, Hamilton’s New York, Flying Architecture, and Tiny Houses. Our flagship program, a two-week design studio led by Lead Design Educator Tim Hayduk, challenges high school students to design a live/work space for an artist along the Gowanus Canal. Through this process, they learn the fundamentals of architectural drawing and scale model making, and get a chance to experience working in a design studio setting as they consider their options for college and beyond.

This year’s summer programs have also been supported by 13 dedicated high school and college student interns and volunteers, who are providing welcome assistance to students and staff, while learning about design education. Our studio time is augmented by one-of-a-kind trips to architecture offices and special sites related to each week’s theme.

Thank you to those who have hosted our groups thus far, including Ken Lewis, AIA, at SOM; Alex Lamis, FAIA, and Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, at RAMSA; Jill Lerner, FAIA at KPF; Christian Volkmann at CCNY’s Solar RoofPod; Craig Tiede at Parsons School of Design; Kelvin Dickinson at the Modulightor Building; and Melinda Hackett for sharing the joy of her Greenwich Village backyard tree house. These trips have truly been highlights for our students!

Summer programs will continue through 08.25.17; our 2017 season will culminate 08.28-30.17 with a special offsite volunteer program at a Women In Need homeless shelter in East Harlem. During this three-day program, fifteen children living in temporary housing will get a chance to design and build their own tree house models.

For more information about the Center’s Youth and Family Programs, please reach out to Mary Lib Schmidt, Youth Programs Coordinator, at