April 18, 2013
by Tim Hayduk
A student shares his drawing of a suspension bridge. Students made drawings in preparation for building models of the bridge of their choice.Jo Best
Students use recycled tree branches and paper mache as armatures for the tree in which their tree house was built.Jo Best
Two students received their C of Os (Certificates of Occupancy) after meeting a variety of safety and design requirements. Tim Hayduk

The Center for Architecture Foundation conducted a series of vacation camps this spring, providing elementary and middle school students with a chance to explore how bridges and treehouses are designed and built. The season started off in February with a one day Bridges program. Students explored a variety of bridge types, drew up their own designs, and made their own bridge models.

And just before the buds burst into bloom in Washington Square Park this past March, elementary school-aged students in our Treehouses vacation camp observed and sketched the trees with a future treehouse in mind. They then planned out their ideas on paper and created their own tree “site” using tree branches and papier-mâché. Next, students created platforms and enclosed spaces that were embellished with pulleys and elevators for vertical transportation, zip lines to visit friends without touching the ground, and trap doors to keep out pesky siblings. The program fostered hands-on learning, including the use of screwdrivers and mitre boxes to construct the base, and model-making skills to build the treehouses.

Middle school students engaged treehouses in a different way: using Trimble SketchUp. One student summed up the experience by saying, “I like that in this program you are limited to your imagination; and you get to use a lot of creativity.” A parent lauded the program, stating, “It is creative, imaginative, fun, and involves skill building.”

If you have a budding architect or designer in your midst, perhaps a week-long exploration at the Center for Architecture Foundation this summer will allow them to develop their inner creativity. Find out more by visiting http://www.cfafoundation.org/summer.