by Center for Architecture
25 high school sophomores and juniors spent their midwinter break exploring potential career paths through the AIA New York and the Center for Architecture’s Discover Architecture program.
This unique opportunity to introduce young students to architecture by placing them in New York City- firms was successfully piloted in 2019. Started as part of an AIANY presidential initiative, the main goal was to provide students with experiences in architecture during the critical moment when they are making decisions regarding their future education and potential career paths.
Students spent three days at one of 19 participating architecture firms throughout New York City, culminating with a design charrette led by Design Educator Tim Hayduk on Friday, February 21 at the Center for Architecture. After spending the week learning about the day-to-day work of an architect, students had a chance to test out their own design ideas by designing a public pavilion across the street from the Center in LaGuardia Park that would share information about architecture with the general public when the Center is closed.
During the three days, firms were able to offer a wide array of experiences for these students, and no two were the same. The diversity of AIANY-member–led firms—from office size to project focus, firm culture, and more—are highlighted by some of the students’ comments about their favorite parts of their program:
“I liked how we got to talk to different people at the firm. We talked to the owner, principals, and almost everyone else. It was nice seeing how everyone had a different path to their job.” – Nuzhat Mukul, junior at High School for Math, Science and Engineering, hosted by Gluck+
“I enjoyed the virtual reality experience they had where the designs they created were actualized so clients could see what the finished product looks like.” -Sophia Nikelberg, sophomore at Art & Design High School, hosted by FXCollaborative
“I found the site visit most enjoyable because it was very interesting to be able to walk through the building while having one of the key architects explain the thought and obstacles faced when designing and making the building.” – anonymous student
“One of the models they were building needed cars, so they had me design one on Rhino and then 3D print it.” – Edgar Ehrsam, sophomore at Bard High School, hosted by nARCHITECTS
Students who were accepted into the Discover Architecture program hailed from 18 local high schools, which are also as varied as the firms that hosted them. With focus areas including art, architecture, technology, performing arts, and more, some students already had exposure to architecture while others had little prior knowledge of the field. This is only one of several new programs that the Center for Architecture’s K-12 Education Department that is specifically geared towards high school students.
Hayduk, the Center for Architecture’s Lead Design Educator has this to say: “Discover Architecture dovetails well with our growing roster of offerings for high school students who share strong interests in architecture. One of our goals is to help students make a decision about an education or career in architecture by providing a variety of experiences that honestly portray the rigors of architecture school and the profession. We understand that this is a difficult profession, yet an architectural education, with its broad approach and emphasis on design thinking, opens up many doors. ”
This particular program takes advantage of our members’ willingness to share their time and knowledge in a meaningful way with these students, ideally leading to a realistic and expanded understanding of the profession as they make important decisions about their futures.
If you would like your firm to participate in next year’s Discover Architecture program, please reach out to Kavitha Mathew, email@example.com.