by Mary Lib Schmidt, Youth Programs Coordinator
This summer the Center for Architecture welcomed 272 students to our K-12 Summer Programs, including 57 students who received $24,000 in financial aid to attend the week of their choice. From late June through the end of August, students in grades 3-12 participated in one- and two-week programs covering topics from waterfront cities to skyscrapers to tiny houses.
Each program explored a different building type or architectural theme through art and building activities, design challenges, and special site visits. New topics this year included Camp Design—where students created their own ideal sleepaway camps complete with cabins, lakes, and dining halls—and Animal Architecture, which included an inspirational trip to the new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! pavilion at the New York Aquarium, lauded as “sharkitecture” by the New York Times. We also brought back some popular themes from previous years such as Treehouses, Playgrounds, and Bridges.
Field trips and visits to architectural offices gave students new ideas for their own projects and helped them understand the kinds of design decisions that architects make, opening their eyes to the role of architects in shaping the spaces they use every day. As some students explained, “I have a lot more appreciation towards architecture and how much detail and work goes into each design,” and “now I see the city as an art piece and not just a city… because every building has its own story.”
A highlight of the summer was bringing back two sessions of our two-week Architectural Design Studio for 10th-12th grade students. These students were given a site along the Gowanus Canal and tasked with designing a live/work space for an artist or 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.
In conjunction with the Center for Architecture’s exhibition Designing Waste: Strategies for a Zero Waste City, students also focused on reducing their own waste throughout the program and incorporating recycled materials into their projects. We also focused on several aspects of green design through our House of the Future and Green Island Home programs.
By the end of each week, students had developed their own individual projects while learning a wide range of art and design skills along the way. Presenting to friends and family at the end of each week gave students the opportunity to share their design thinking and show off their unique creations. Parents were as enthusiastic about the program as their children:
“It is great that an organization like this exists. [My child] loved every minute learning about NYC structures. She learned so much in a week! We hope to return and participate in your programs during the school year.”
“This was the first time [my child] was happy to go to school! AMAZING! We are so happy for all the teaching and support you gave him. A hugely impactful experience. I also enjoyed the presentations and critiques. THANK YOU!”
“My child had an amazing time this week. I knew he was very happy when he couldn’t stop talking about all he did on day 1 and the fact that he didn’t want to be late in the mornings. Great job! What a fantastic week he had!”
We would like to thank KPF, SOM, Gensler, COOKFOX, Rockwell Group, LOT-EK, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture, Parsons School of Design, The New School, the Hayes Theater, Broadway Green Alliance, the Solaire, Melinda Hackett, and Mark Reigelman for the wonderful experiences they provided our students. Thanks also goes to our many dedicated volunteers and interns who assisted students and staff throughout the summer. For additional photos, visit the Center for Architecture K-12 Facebook page.