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January 25, 2017
by Catherine Teegarden Center for Architecture Foundation
Visiting reviewers Jiin Wen and Jeff Charles-Pierre and Design Educator Yves Roger discuss students’ designs for a house based on the seven shapes of the Chinese tangram puzzle. Credit: Center for Architecture
Design Educator Janet Sygar leads PS Q300 second grade students on a neighborhood walk to observe local buildings. Credit: Center for Architecture
Proud parents listen as PS Q300 second graders talk about the neighborhood model they made during a culminating presentation. Credit: Center for Architecture
Tangram House model by UASDC 12th grader Juan Gordillo.Credit: Center for Architecture

As the first semester drew to a close this month, several Learning By Design:NY classes concluded their in-school programs with final presentations to parents and guests. Here are some highlights.

Second grade students at PS Q300 spent the fall semester studying their local Astoria neighborhood with Center for Architecture Design Educator Janet Sygar and their classroom teachers Sarah Duer and Stephanie Praimnath through a ten-session Learning By Design:NY program. The program enhances the students’ social studies, math, and English language arts curricula and has become a highlight of the second grades’ fall community study at the school. Beginning with simple activities that helped children to notice and identify shapes and materials in buildings, Sygar introduced them to architectural elements found in their neighborhood’s buildings, such as lintels, cornices, and gable roofs. Children used this information to “read” local streetscapes for clues about buildings’ function and design during a neighborhood walk. They also looked at historic views of Astoria to see how it had changed over time. Their research culminated in a student-built scale model of the immediate school neighborhood, including the nearby Athena Park, the busy commercial strip along 30th Avenue, and a stretch of old row houses along one of the side streets. Children worked in groups, referencing photographs of the buildings to create highly detailed replicas of these local structures. They proudly presented their grade-wide model to delighted parents at a culminating event on 01.12.17.

At the other end of the school spectrum were the high school students from the Urban Assembly School of Design & Construction, who presented their semester-end projects to visiting architects and urban planners during in-school critiques on 01.17.17 and at the Center on 01.19.17. The Center has an extensive Learning By Design:NY program at the school, where students are introduced to architecture fundamentals in 9th grade and progress to more complex design projects in 10th grade, such as schools and museums. 11th and 12th grade students can elect to continue with advanced classes their final two years at the school. Many thanks to the wonderful professionals who volunteered their time and expertise to encourage the next generation of designers through these two events: Greg Bencivengo, Nicholas Brinen, Andy Farrell, Serena Losonczy, Slavica Novak Nikolic, Jeff Charles-Pierre, and Jiin Wen.

If you are interested in serving on a review or volunteering in the Center’s K-12 programs, please contact the Education Department at


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