When a kindergartner notices the dentil molding above a doorway, or a sixth-grader now understands triangulations in math class because he calculated the formula to create a perfect staircase, or a student studying the French Renaissance remembers each king by their unique aesthetic styles, chances are these lucky kids were inspired by a program called Architecture + Education.
Led by a dedicated team of architects in the Buffalo area, Architecture + Education is in its 11th year of inspiring young minds in the Buffalo public school system to use the architectural concepts and integrate them into their education and everyday life. Partnered with the AIA Buffalo/ WNY Chapter, the goal of the Architecture + Education program of the Buffalo Architecture Foundation is not a recruitment effort, but rather a program that uses the ideas and vision of architecture as a media of learning. Every two years, a group of over 50 architects, architecture students and educators from the Buffalo public schools gather for an all-day symposium.
Image above: Group photo at the 2011 Symposium
Paul Murawski, Luke Johnson and Kathy Callesto were the Cannon Design participants for this year. Architects and teachers team up and are asked to complete several projects together during the symposium. This exercise then develops into formulating a 3-month long lesson plan where the architect assists the teacher to create an outside-the-box curriculum through the lens of architectural thinking.
Cannon Design Architect, Paul Murawski working on a project with the teachers
“The teachers love us,” says Cannon Design’s James Lai, AIA Buffalo’s Young Architect Award recipient of 2010 and Committee Chair of the Architecture + Education Program. “It is a way to show architecture touches every single subject.” Lesson plans vary as much as the subjects themselves: math, social studies, history and even English. Lai couldn’t help but do a little calculating, “This year we developed lesson plans with the teachers for 21 classes, times 26 students in each class. That’s about 560 students who benefit from this program.” A grant of $10,000 from the Ronald McDonald House Charities made it possible to buy all of the materials needed for each classroom. Lai is very thankful the teachers did not have to spend a penny out of pocket.
Bird’s eye view of the 2011 Symposium
The ultimate goal of Architecture + Education, Lai says, is to present the compiled lesson plans to the New York State Department of Education and have the program added to the official state curriculum. In the meantime, all of the students’ projects are on display at the CEPA Gallery in Buffalo from January 6 to January 18, 2012. We wish all the participants in this program further success in educating students through architecture.
Check out some video from the 2011 Symposium. Each team of architect and teacher were given a zoo animal with specific (and pretty hilarious) needs for their living environment. These creations were the end result:
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