The Next Generation of Architects

June 17, 2008

NEW YORK - Our city and our country face crucial challenges for urban and community development. Climate change, the housing crisis and an economy heading for recession all mean that future architects and city planners face difficult, even unprecedented challenges to creating sustainable, meaningful designs. So where are the great minds who will take up this daunting challenge?

They are in our schools, of course, and they are hard at work bringing their ideas to the table. Here in New York's Greenwich Village, the Center for Architecture has been nurturing the talents of elementary and high school-age designers for years, involving students, as well as their schools and families.

Continuing an already popular tradition, the exhibition "Building Connections: 12th Annual K-12 Design Work" opened at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, on June 13th and will remain until August 23rd.

Young Architects at Work-and Play
Building Connections will feature drawings and models that explore diverse aspects of built environment. Some student designers are participants in "Learning by Design: NY"-the Center for Architecture Foundation's school-based residency program-while others discovered their skills through various other youth, school and family programs based at the Center.

The student projects range in scope from lighting design to city planning to mapping, and include everything in between. "Architecture can be a powerful subject to teach at any grade level," says Erin McCluskey, director of the Center for Architecture Foundation. "It's a cross-curriculum study that ties together math, art, social studies, writing, and almost every other discipline."

Fun, Excitement and Learning
Attending the exhibition has become a popular outing for both kids and adults, as the students' enjoyment and excitement are as much on display as their talents. The Center's programs are designed to spark creativity and love of discovery-not merely to fish around for the next I. M. Pei.

"Students are always really excited and intrigued to see what their peers have done," adds McCluskey. "They realize that there is such a wide range of materials, model-building techniques, and approaches to design challenges; you hear a lot of them saying, ‘That's really cool! Maybe I'll do it that way next time!'"  

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