January 25, 2011
by Rebecca Parelman Center for Architecture Foundation

Jennifer Golan

Last week, 15 self-selected 11th- and 12th-grade students from the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, Brooklyn Technical High School, and New Design High School participated in a “Build A Wall” workshop at the Center for Architecture. The workshop introduced students to the field of construction, offering them an opportunity to explore the trade through hands-on building. Prestige Custom Building and Construction donated their time and materials to demonstrate how to build a basic metal framework wall with a combination of door, window, and wall intersections. Tony Schirippa, FAIA, IIDA, AIANY immediate past-president, who first introduced the idea of the “Build A Wall” workshop, gave students a tour of the Center’s current exhibition “Innovate: Integrate.”

During the program, students shared their interests and prior exposure to architecture and construction while discussing future goals. Prestige employees gave a presentation of the various tools and safety procedures. Then students gathered around the 12-foot long “construction site” to take measurements of the loose door, window, and framing materials to diagram and craft a construction drawing of the wall. Throughout the event students got their hands dirty, drilling, measuring, and leveling the various components until a perfectly constructed wall frame with one door and window was completed.

Through this interactive workshop students observed how a simple architectural sketch is transformed into a tangible structure. Students discovered how to create a support structure, the importance of proper placement of building materials, and the magic 16-inch construction number — used to frame everything from houses to the tallest skyscrapers. Having little exposure to the construction world, Robert, a senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, learned “the importance of each little minor detail. How the importance of one bolt will be significant because everything in the beginning affects the end result.” With the help of Prestige these architecture-savvy students learned new skills and experienced the satisfaction of developing a design into a built reality.

Special thanks to Lior Golan, Bryan Pierre, and crew for donating their time and materials to the Center for Architecture Foundation, and to Laura Trimble, partnership programs coordinator of the Center for Architecture, for coordinating this event. For more information about the Foundation and ways to get involved, visit www.cfafoundation.org or contact Tim Hayduk at thayduk@cfafoundation.org.