THEME: Airport Terminals


Field Trips: Cal Anderson Park, St. Ignatius Chapel (designed by Steven Holl), Downtown Seattle

This week is all about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. We have 10 students this week, all boys! Some are interested because of the theme of airports, some because they are interested in design and building, and others just thought it sounded cool. With 10 different minds with the same project, it was amazing to see the diversity of projects, inspirations, and innovation. We had planes flying through airports, control towers sky high, humble structures with lots of glass, and even a floating runway.

The campers learned about drawing to scale, relationships of humans to buildings, the different components of an airport, and simply how to get an idea out of the head and on to paper/or built in model form.

Here’s some images from the week!

Pinup with Dora

Airport (designed by Roan)


Airport and Control Tower (designed by Roan)

Airport (designed by Roman)

The Vancouver Airport (designed by Daniel)

Floating Airport (designed by Neils)






FIELD TRIPS: Cal Anderson Park, Volunteer Park, Woodland Park Zoo

First week of assisting at the Architecture 101 summer camp, and I am fill with excitement, energy, and accomplishment.

The week’s theme was the design of a zoo, an eco-resort, or a combination of the two. With three students, the camp was really able to test out all sorts of design ideas and explore architectural techniques to realize those ideas.

Here are some images from the week!

Zoo Entrance (design by Riley)

Zoo Gift Shop (designed by Riley)

Zoo in Plan (designed by Riley)

One of the many exhibits seen on our field trip to the Woodland Park Zoo

The Conservatory at Volunteer Park: Beware of the Carnivorous plants!

Eco-Resort Site Model (designed by Sam)

*Photography credit: Hannah Feil

I have been officially added to the Architecture 101 website as Dora Taylor’s assistant!

Dora Taylor holds architecture workshops for kids in a wonderful space on East Pike in Capitol Hill, Seattle. I had the opportunity to meet with Dora and her workshop attendees (6 third-eighth graders) on Friday at the East Pike Factory. It was wonderful to see the diversity of projects that the kids were designing and building. The themes for the week were Bridge Building and Egyptian Architecture. The summer camp program is a full or half day camp with an architectural field trip in the afternoon. Field trips that Dora had mentioned were Volunteer Park, SAF’s Model Exhibition, and other wonderful architectural experiences in and near the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

I look forward to the weeks to come were I will get to join in on the workshops and hopefully add a little something to architectural investigations.

*Image from sketched by Seattle Sketcher.

My Twitter feeds have been filled lately with the unveiling of…dun, dun, dun… Architect Barbie (opinion to be shared later).

This had me thinking, I have always been given advice in regards to how to answer the question: What has inspired you to become an architect?

Consecutive advice: Don’t say it’s because you loved playing with a. Legos b. Lincoln Logs c. K’Nex  d. fill in the blank with any other classic building systems toy here.

Alright, that makes sense, the cliche stands (hence the subtitle of this blog “don’t we all want to be architects when we grow up), but what about now? Toys have changed, but do they really help lead future generations into the discovery of architecture? Or have they by-passed cliche and become irrelevant and novelty?

Here is an example (more to come):

Young Architect, by Poof Slinky

According to reviews and even the product description, this set is not only extremely limiting, but also what does this really say about what the role of an architect.

Here is the product description from the Manufacturers from Amazon:

Attention, Aspiring Architects! The box says “ages 10 and up,” but we think it will be way, way up in this case. Young Architect” is a monster design and layout kit on a 24″ x 18″ acrylic sheet with (6) sheets of tracing paper in that size; (50) pieces of 1″ sq x 3/8″ thick 4-way wall supports; (10) pieces each (60 total) of 2″ tall wall partitions in lengths of 1-1/2″, 3″, 4-1/2″, 5-1/4″, 6″, and 9″; an 8-3/4″ x 12″ sheet of self-adhesive window and door stickers; (9) clear plastic room templates; (3) sheets of furniture cutout templates; and (4) colored pencils. Plan your dream house and when you get done you could add a screen top and have the only 12-room gerbil habitat on the block. No roof? Think hermit crabs; they can’t jump. Made in China for Slinky Science”.

Pre-packaged, pre-sized kits of parts? Yeah, yeah, yeah: prefab has pretty amazing potential and has been exercised throughout the globe in very innovative ways, but the kit isn’t called the Young HUD Architect, or Learn-How-To-Design-Like-Charles-and-Ray-Eames-by-using-their-Innovative-Expertise-of-1950s-Architecture.

The idea has potential, I’m sure it would still be fun to play with, but it is poorly executed, in my opinion. Thoughts? Has anyone used this toy set?

To be continued…

A Review: Creativity captured in a Children’s Book

Book Cover: The Three Little Pigs - An Architectural Tale

Have you ever wondered: if the three little pigs had professions, what they would be?

Well, if they had professions, according to this phenomenal tale retold by Steven Guarnaccia, they would probably be architects.

Without revealing too much of the amazing imagination in this book, and exploiting every architectural one-liner known to humankind, I would like to mention:

Have you ever pictured Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright as positively plump pink piggies?

If you hadn’t before, after exploring this revamped tale, it will be hard not to always think of curly-cue tails attached to the rumps of these 3 Starchitects.

The cleverness of the story is the synthesis of the whimsical classic tale and the reality of the strengths of different building materials.

Frank Gehry #1- known for a mixed-use of materials forming sculptural buildings.
Phillip Johnson #2- known for his Modernist glass house.
And Frank Lloyd Wright #3- known for massive, heavy materials casting buildings into the landscape.

Little Pig #1- straw
Little Pig #2- sticks
Little Pig #3- bricks

Draw any conclusions now?

I have started establishing my children’s book collection and I would love any recommendations of any design focused children’s books!

WEEK 4: Let’s go look at some structure!

Finally! A FIELD TRIP! Yay! We were lucky enough to be within a 5 minute walk to the most beautiful active barn. The purpose of the field trip was to actually SEE how buildings stand up. We found lots of triangles, squares, and even some cows. Although the calf in the middle of the barn was the most exciting, the students observed how the barn stands up.

After drying ourselves off from the downpour we walked through to get back to the classroom, we then talked about how to measure as a form of observation. We paced the classroom, measured our paces, measured our limbs as measuring tools. Brett and I brought in a bag full of measuring and drawing tools to show and pass around the class. These concepts began our learning of the sense of scale which we will use for our final project.

 Part A

Activity 1: Barn Field Trip

Part B

Activity 2: Measuring Tools

-How to estimate the size of buildings, rooms, and spaces: pacing, body parts as measuring tools, and floor plans.

WEEK 3: Observe, observe, observe.

The goal of the day’s activities was a lesson in observation. Observation is the greatest tool that humans have in determining their surroundings, creating new ways to think about their surroundings, and most importantly just seeing.

Brett and I thought it was important to spend more than one class period working with the students on all the different ways to observe and document things we see.  We spent the first half of the class making view-finders and telescopes. We used these tools to scope out things in the classroom.

It was fantastic seeing the students noticing things they had never noticed before in a place that they visit everyday, their classroom.

The second half of the day we looked at each other. We noticed how far away our eyes were from our ears, eyes from noses, noses from mouths, mouths from chins. “Our eyes are all different shapes.”

 Great lesson for every human being: observe, observe, observe. 

Part A

Activity 1: Observe and Draw your neighbor.

-Create View Finders + Telescopes

-Draw what you see.

Part B

Activity 2: Let’s Face It-The Eyes are in the Middle

-A Lesson in Proportions

-Tools to use to observe and record what you have observed.

WEEK 2: What makes a building stand up? What makes up a city?

Our second visit to Verboort near Forest Grove was another success. Today our goal was to dig deeper and wider: building more shapes in two dimensions and three dimensions and think about what makes up a city.

We spent the first half of the class creating lots of different shapes: cylinders, pyramids, rectangles, cubes, and cones.

The excitement of the day was demonstrating how strong three dimensional shapes really are by balancing more than 15 textbooks on a cylinder made out of construction paper. Wow!

With piles and piles of construction paper shapes to work with, the students divided up into 6 groups and designed cities. One even found it important to include the Great Wall of China.

This day was fun because it developed a wonderful conversation about what children think is important in cities. The awareness of sustainability in cities was remarkable. All of the groups wanted to make sure that public transportation was available. And of course, the tallest and most exciting buildings to them: skyscrapers.

 Part A

Activity 1: What makes Structures Stand Up: Simple shapes make up buildings. Geometry in architecture. Two-dimension to Three-Dimension.

Part B

Activity 2: What will cities look like 25 years from now?

What are the different parts of a city? How do you move around cities? What do you wish cities had? What do you need in your city?

The Architects in Schools program consisted of a 6-week architectural study. We chose to focus on geometry as an avenue to connect architecture and the curriculum in the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms. For both groups, this was an applied review: testing their knowledge of general shapes and applying it to things like how strong are shapes.

WEEK 1: What is Architecture? What is Structure?

This preliminary week is meant as an introduction. What better place to start thinking about architecture than to start thinking about what really makes buildings stand up. An incredible activity that was demonstrated at orientation really brings together what the Architects in Schools experience should be, and that’s “How it feels to be a Structure.” Brett (my co-architect/teacher), Deann (the third grade teacher), Beth (the fourth grade teacher), and myself decided to have this activity be our first.

The activity went really well. It’s a great opportunity to learn while being active. It’s amazing how the activity actually allows you to feel what a structure feels like. Every architect should do this activity as a reminder of what really makes things stand up.

After this active activity we moved into a desktop activity demonstrated the strength of repeating shapes, especially triangles. Who would have thought that a bunch of triangles could actually make up a dome? And yes, the students wore them on their heads.

 Part A

Activity 1: How it feels to be a Structure: “Be a…POST! Be a… BEAM! Be a…LINTEL! Be an… ARCADE! Be a…flying buttress!”

Part B

Activity 2: Toothpick Dome- Triangles are Strong.

Last Thursday marked the beginning of the exhibition for the Architects in School program in Portland, OR of which I was a participant.

Was I the architect? Or was I the student?

The answer is both, always both.

The exhibit was the conclusion of extensive collaboration between professionals, classroom teachers, and students (grades 3 through 5). My team consisted of two architecture graduate students, two established elementary school teachers, and 29 third and fourth grade students. We met every other week in Forest Grove, OR in a classroom portable just past the Urban Growth Boundary: farmland, cows, and nurseries.

In the following posts, I will be recapping the wonderful experience starting with “linked-arm arcades” through our community on the Moon.