by Tim Hayduk and Catherine Teegarden
The Center for Architecture and AIA New York joined forces to host our third annual Discover Architecture program on February 19, bringing together high school students considering an education or career in architecture. Discover Architecture was launched in 2019, under the leadership of past AIANY President Hayes Slade, AIA, as a three-day immersive career exploration experience. During the program’s first two years, AIANY member firms hosted dozens of New York City high school students for a unique, in-person introduction to the profession. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s program was instead held virtually. Thanks to the commitment of thirteen AIANY and AIA Bronx firms, and the magic of Zoom, our enrollment multiplied tenfold. 225 students from 12 states and eight countries participated in a day of presentations about the field of architecture.
Students and practitioners were brought together for a series of talks concerning preparation for higher education and career, as well as diversity in the profession, sustainability, community engagement, the design process, and other aspects of the practice of architecture. Students chose one of four tracks, each designed to cover a wide range of topics. Students enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs were eligible for work-based learning credits, foreshadowing an architect’s fulfillment of CES requirements.
It is our hope that the participating students now have a deeper understanding of the profession as they make important decisions about their futures. As Juan Matiz, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of Matiz Architecture & Design, who presented with his colleague Hilda Cohen, remarked, “Exposing young minds that might otherwise pass up the opportunity to become architects and inspiring them through the Discover Architecture program has been remarkable. Hopefully a few of them will take on the challenge we set forth at the end of our presentation. We hope that there will be a few newly inspired ambassadors for positive change among them. Propelling them in that direction through this program is the best reward possible!”
Students also responded with positive personal statements about what they gleaned from the sessions they attended. Many commented on the new insights they gained into the practice of architecture: the importance of collaboration, the many different types of jobs in architecture, and “the importance of community in architecture and how it can be used to solve problems and bring people together.” As one student summed up, “I learned more about the entire process—design is only a small part of the job, and this session gave me a more in-depth look at other aspects, such as BIM and construction itself.”
For many students, this exposure to friendly professionals who were eager to share their own passion for design and provide helpful advice helped cement their interest in pursuing architecture as a career:
“The sessions helped me develop a more positive view about my choice to go into the architectural field. This was probably because I was given a more personal view into the processes of architecture/in an architectural firm.”
“I definitely didn’t know that there were so many different specialized areas architects can work in (interior design, more engineering side, working on passive housing). I’m definitely more interested in architecture and taking similar classes.”
“I came to see if I would be interested in architecture, and now I will consider it as a possible career choice because I found myself interested in the topics being discussed and had similar interests to the presenters.”
“I gained a very large amount of knowledge on becoming an architect, the daily life and responsibilities of one, and the experiences of established architects. I am excited to tackle the process of becoming one now that I know what will happen.”
Many thanks to the following firms who led presentations in this year’s virtual program: Architecture Outfit, Architecture Research Office, Davis Brody Bond, FXCollaborative, GLUCK+, MBB Architects, Marble Fairbanks Architects, Matiz Architecture and Design, SOM, Slade Architecture, Spacesmith, Studio 360, and Studio Fōr. We are grateful for their time, energy and enthusiasm.
We hope to be able to return to an in-person office experience in 2022, but it’s clear that this sort of virtual programming is also extremely useful to students and fills an important need.
Please let the Center’s Education team know if you’re interested in participating in future career exploration events by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.