by Mary Lib Schmidt, Youth Programs Manager
This summer the Center for Architecture welcomed 388 students to our K-12 Summer Programs, including 48 students who received a combined total of $26,600 in financial aid to attend. From late June through the end of August, students in grades 3-12 participated in one and two-week programs covering topics from bridges to playground design.
Each program explored a different building type or architectural theme through art and building activities, design challenges, and special site visits. This year we brought back some popular themes such as treehouses, skyscrapers, and tiny houses, and offered new topics such as neighborhood design, which allowed students to act as urban planners, and pop-up shop, where students had to consider not only a fun concept to sell their product, but also how to functionally make a retail space “Pop-up”!
Each program took special theme-specific field trips to locations around the city, which included architecture offices, parks, museums, and even a Broadway theater! These trips gave students new ideas for their own projects and helped them understand the kinds of decisions architects make, opening their eyes to the role of designers in shaping the spaces they use every day.
As a couple of middle and high school students explained, “I like that we got to make our own buildings and go on cool field trips and that I met nice friends,” and “There’s so much I didn’t know before the program. My outlook has shifted from something I’m interested in to something I’m beginning to understand and enjoy.” One elementary school student put it even more simply: “Best camp ever!”
A highlight of our summer was bringing back two sessions of our two-week Architectural Design Studio for 10th through 12th grade students. These students were given a site along the Gowanus Canal and were tasked with designing a live/work space for an artist/maker of their choosing. At the end of the two weeks, students presented their final drawings and models to friends and family and received critiques from our staff.
This summer, as part of our expanded summer program offerings, the Center for Architecture also partnered with the Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education and Sustainability at NYU to design and facilitate two weeks of multidisciplinary programming for elementary and middle school students. To learn more about this wonderful partnership, please see the full newsletter article here.
By the end of each week, students had developed their own individual projects, learning a broad range of art and design skills along the way. Presenting to friends and family at the end of each week gave the students the opportunity to share their design thinking and show off their unique creations. Parents were as enthusiastic about the program as their children:
“[Our child] was thoroughly excited about the program and felt engaged every day. It is remarkable for kids with such specialized areas of passion to find a camp which encourages them, lets them explore, and challenges them. Thank you!”
“Thank you for such a wonderful program. The final product is amazing. Kids had fun and learned new ideas for building things! We will be back next year!”
“What an amazing opportunity and early education into one of the greatest fields. Amazing, amazing!!!”
We would like to thank SOM, KPF, ODA, Snarkitecture, Ronnette Riley Architect, RAMSA, Rockwell Group, Snøhetta, ARUP, LOT-EK, the Lyric Theatre, Ollie, Resource Furniture, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, Storefront for Art and Architecture, City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture, Cooper Union, City Tech, Gennaro Brooks-Church of EcoBrooklyn, and Illya Azaroff for the wonderful experiences they provided our students. Thanks also to our dedicated interns and volunteers who assisted students and staff throughout the summer. Additional photos are available on our Facebook page Center for Architecture K-12.