June 29, 2022
by Center for Architecture
Grade school students in a classroom build architectural models
First graders at PS 150M in Tribeca try their hand at designing and building their ideal parks and playgrounds. Photo: Center for Architecture.

The end of school is a time marked by celebration and anticipation, and at the Center for Architecture and across New York City, this milestone has taken on an even deeper meaning. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and cultural organizations alike to close their doors, our K-12 Education department quickly pivoted to a virtual format, providing programs and resources to schools and families. Despite being separated by screens, our students, teachers, and staff demonstrated patience, resiliency, and creativity.      

The 2021-2022 school year marked a triumphant return to in-person programs, including the Center’s Learning By Design:NY in-school residencies. 21 schools participated in five- to eight-week programs representing a total of 568 classroom visits and 1,511 students in grades 1-8. Our K-12 staff and design educators led a multitude of programming on topics including Bridge Design, Neighborhood Architecture, Green Architecture, and Lenape Architecture.      

Funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, and generous corporate and individual donors allowed us to offer free or discounted programming to low-income schools comprising 40 percent of our audience. These programs were also made possible with the support and flexibility of teachers, administrators, and parents, who worked to ensure that our programs could run safely and smoothly onsite.  Many of our teachers reported that the residencies allowed their students to not only expand their knowledge of architecture but aided in building vital skills, including “how to collaborate and work as a team…develop their ability to think creatively, listen to different ideas, negotiate, and delegate tasks equally.”  Another teacher reported that “students gained an entire newfound, enriching content knowledge for architecture, design and building process, and the art connection to parks and playgrounds…Many students are saying they want to become architects when they grow up!” 

We were also pleased to re-open the Center this year to our Student Day school visit programs. 38 classes from kindergarten to high school learned about architecture and created their own designs for skyscrapers, bridges, green buildings, and interiors through these two-hour, hands-on programs. Generous grant funding from Con Edison discounted the costs of our Green Architecture programs, helping us to spread the message of sustainability to schools throughout the city.  

We are proud to be able to continue in our mission to connect New York City students with the built environment around them and empower them to pursue their own interests and abilities in the field of architecture and design. We look forward to the school year ahead!