September 14, 2011
by Eveline Chang and Tim Hayduk Center for Architecture Foundat

Students build stories with new building designs.

Max Wolf

Families gathered at the Center for Architecture on 09.10.11 to explore the stories every building has to tell. Children and their parents learned how to “read” buildings from architectural clues about their history and use. Decoding architectural features from a façade, such as entrances, windows, and roofs, participants were asked to identify notable characteristics on both familiar buildings, such as firehouses, as well as famous landmarks, such as the White House. These clues helped families understand the exterior and interior functions of the building.

Isabel Hill, architectural historian and children’s author, was on hand to read from her newest book, Building Stories, which features many NYC buildings and archival photographs, highlighting the original purpose of many historical structures. Hill showcased a variety of buildings, including factories, banks, gyms, and bakeries, where the ornamentation and architectural form reflects their function and the people who live or work inside.

Families were then invited to create their own “building stories” by designing a building in book form, showing both exterior and interior features. Children and their parents worked together to create a collaged building façade, which then opened to reveal an interior scene. They created castles, hotels, and even subway stations.

The Center for Architecture Foundation offers FamilyDays once a month on Saturday at the Center for Architecture. Our next program will celebrate the beginning of Archtober on 10.01.11. The Foundation also offers afterschool, vacation, and summer programs for students in grades 3-12. For more information about the Programs@theCenter or ways to get involved, visit or contact Catherine Teegarden at