This past fall, Michelle volunteered with a group of middle school students at Cameron Elementary School in Humboldt Park through AIA Chicago’s Architects in Schools program. The Community Interface Committee (CIC) of AIA Chicago developed this program, and this semester the program expanded to run at 2 schools concurrently.
“Architects in Schools is an initiative focused on bringing architecture professionals into classrooms to introduce middle school students to the field of architecture and to discuss the broader theme of architecture as a changemaker. Volunteers engage the students in critically analyzing their neighborhood for opportunities to create positive change and utilizing architecture as a means for implementing solutions.” – AIA Chicago
The 6-week curriculum introduced the students to architecture and design while encouraging them to create projects that could have a positive impact on their neighborhood. Students learned basic sketching, site analysis, programming, scaled plan drawing and model-building skills over the course of the program. The curriculum culminated in a group model project that students presented to a panel of 14 architects. The students had a wide range of ideas of what might help their neighborhood, including such things as a single family home, a sushi shop, an arcade, and a luxury apartment building with a public pool. The theme weaving through all of their ideas was that investment in the neighborhood would help to improve their community, making a safer, more desirable place to live.
Michelle and the rest of the volunteers also organized a tour of the Loop and a visit to a Chicago architecture firm., followed by pizza and a program de-brief with the volunteers. A great and rewarding time was had by all!