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March 11, 2015
by Catherine Teegarden Center for Architecture Foundation
High school students designed their own micro-unit apartments in the Center’s three-day vacation studio program.Credit: Sam Holleran
Project Architect designer Joseph Branco presented the new two-story home he designed for Batman in the Center’s three-day vacation studio program for elementary students. Credit: Juliana Sohn
Middle schoolers created micro-units and duplicated them to create full apartment buildings, complete with public amenities such as rooftop gardens and restaurants.

Vacation is a time to play and explore new ideas and places. Thirty-five students enrolled in the Center’s Studio@theCenter vacation programs did just that, investigating what it might be like to be an architect and create new living spaces for imaginary clients. Three different apartment design programs were offered for elementary (3rd – 5th grades), middle (6th – 8th grades) and high school students over their February school break. High school and middle school students tackled the contemporary challenge of designing a micro-unit apartment in New York City. They learned how to communicate their design ideas through architectural scale drawings and models. Middle school students created their designs in the Center’s computer lab using SketchUp, a free 3-D rendering program. Thanks to the ease of digital duplication, students were able to create apartment buildings based on their unit design, adding in communal spaces and amenities. Both groups looked at other architects’ micro-unit designs proposed for NYC, as well as the minimal dwelling unit currently on display in the “Prague Functionalism” exhibition at the Center.

Elementary school students set up their own sole-proprietor architectural firms and went to work designing a home for their first client – a figurine brought from home. Clients included ninja turtles, Lego mini-figures, Batman, various fairies, and assorted small farm animals, among others. The kids “interviewed” their clients to determine their programmatic needs, and worked through bubble diagrams, floor plans, and section drawings before building their final models, furnished and scaled to match their figures’ sizes. Parents were impressed by what their children were able to accomplish in only three days as they were treated to students’ presentations on the final day. Models returned home with their owners for the last few days of vacation, which held out promise of continued adventures for their figurines in their new homes.

Know any budding architects? Send them our way! Next week, 03.17-19.15, we are offering a new round of the elementary and middle school programs during the independent schools’ spring break. Registration and information at:

Project Architect (Grades 3-5)
Digital Design: Design Your Own Micro-Unit (Grades 6-8)

New programs will be offered during the public school spring break, 04.07-09.15:
Treehouse Design (Grades 3-5)
Digital Design: Subway Designer (Grades 6-8)

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