December 8, 2010
by Maggie Yolen Center for Architecture Foundation

Students from MAT worked in teams to construct scale models of “green” buildings. One group built a spiral apartment building with green roofs, wind turbines, and a rainwater collection system.

Maggie Yolen

Eighth graders from Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT) are gearing up to compete in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition. The 19th annual competition fosters interests in math, science, and engineering by challenging students to design a “city of the future,” first through computer simulation using Sim City software, and then by constructing their designs in large, three-dimensional models. In addition to garnering invaluable computer skills, students are learning about sustainability. As preparation for the competition, Hau-yu Chu, an eighth-grade technology teacher at MAT, brought her class to the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) for two Student Day programs: Neighborhood Design and Green Buildings.

First, students designed an “ideal” neighborhood. Considering different building types, community needs, and neighborhood density, students collaborated to build a livable neighborhood. Then, under the guidance of CFAF Director of Programs Catherine Teegarden, students explored methods of making buildings greener, including incorporating renewable energy and passive solar design features. Teegarden supplied the class with a student-friendly version of the LEED checklist to help guide their “green” model building.

One group of three students constructed a spiral apartment building complex with green roofs, wind turbines, and a rainwater collection system. “Oh, and it will be made of recycled materials,” one of the students added enthusiastically. Another group explained that their model was relying solely on solar energy to power the building. The roof of their glass building was covered with small trees and shrubs made from green tissue paper. “It’s hard to design a building that’s all sustainable when you’re trying to consider space too,” a team member remarked as he added a shrub to the roof. While determining whether bike racks were in proportion to her building, one student described how the gym on the first floor would use treadmills to power a portion of the building’s electricity.

After completing the scale models and giving an oral presentation to their school, Chu will choose three students to represent MAT in the national competition.

Student Days are hands-on workshops exploring architecture and design, offered for K-12 classes at the Center for Architecture, Monday-Friday. To schedule a Student Day, visit and fill out a Student Day Request form or contact Catherine Teegarden at 212.358.6135 for more information.