March 8, 2011
by Catherine Teegarden Center for Architecture Foundation

Event: Studio@theCenter
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.22-24.11

Two “Street Smart Designer” students (left); third-sixth graders participate in the “From Books to Building” program.

Catherine Teegarden

Public schools were closed last week, but learning didn’t stop for the 34 students who participated in Studio@theCenter, the Center for Architecture Foundation’s three-day school vacation program. Studio programs give 3rd- through 12th-grade students a chance to explore architecture and design through hands-on projects and field trips to local designers’ offices. Two programs were held this February: “From Books to Buildings” for 3rd-6th graders, and “Street Smart Designer” for 6th-12th graders.

Students in “From Books to Buildings” were given a photograph and asked to create a story for that setting. Going from buildings to books helped students identify the elements that give spaces a certain quality — learning how differences in scale, form, and materials can make a place feel spooky, dangerous, or cozy. Then, students crafted models of their spaces, down to minute details such as laundry lines and theater curtains, after which they gave presentations to their parents. The class also was given a tour of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, where students learned about the work of an architect and how models and digital renderings are used to develop and present their designs.

In “Street Smart Designer,” students created digital and physical models of their own designs for multi-purpose street furniture using both Google Sketch-Up and cardboard and glue. Working in pairs to come up with designs that combined two or more functions, students created bench/bike racks and streetlight/garbage cans with emergency response phones. Students also paid a visit to Urban Movement Design, a firm dedicated to promoting healthy living and movement through innovative designs for the home and urban environment. The elements of accessibility, movement, and play were highlighted to give each student insight into how their designs could best serve the community. Even the professionals were wowed by the students’ Sketch-Up animations and carefully crafted models.

Special thanks to H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and Urban Movement Design for donating their time to the Center for Architecture Foundation. Additional Studio@theCenter programs, “Green NYC 2030” for 3rd-6th graders and “Digital Design with Google Sketch-Up” for 7th-12th graders, will be held 03.22-24.11 and 04.19-21.11. Registration is also open for the Foundation’s Summer@theCenter programs. Visit for more information.