Education Enables Tomorrow’s Leaders in Design

April 4, 2011

Education is the primary factor to a smarter generation of sustainable practices. This is both true in life and in architecture. Many books and websites are dedicated to increasing the awareness that greener choices are needed and must start at a very young age.

The US Energy Information Administration is one of many to help in children’s sustainable education. It includes easy-to-understand definitions, major topics of conservation such as nonrenewable vs. renewable energy, hydrogen and electrical energy, and even offers teacher class ideas and fieldtrips.

Another program geared towards the youth is ArchKIDecture which discusses structures of buildings, the materials that are used and the future architects’ guidance all in a friendly and fun educational system.

A Golden Pyramid designed for ArchKIDecture competition

One of the most unique aspects of ArchKIDecture is their traveling interactive exhibit which allows kids the opportunities to partake in designing buildings such as tree-houses, skyscrapers, and the patterns of a straw bale house, plus many more. The exhibit is held for toddlers to middle school aged children and is brought to the public by the Evanston Arts Council.

A girl working on her design for ArchKIDecture

The projects allow the kids the opportunity to interact with their built environment, given a more hands-on approach deepens their understanding of how items are assembled, the planning, and the meeting of set project criteria.

The final example of a great education organization which aims to help increase the architecture industry’s future in sustainable design is the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They offer a variety of programs including:

  • Scout Programs
  • Family Programs
  • Camp and Youth Programs
  • Teen Programs

All of these are architecturally themed and they even offer a fieldtrip to explore Chicago’s own unique architecture. The teen program offers a Newhouse competition, workshops and internships.

All of these programs, websites and organizations are geared toward the future of design, yet teach the importance of the history that has gone into making the choices thus far, so that better, more informed decisions can improve our quality of life tomorrow. The young need guidance to be tomorrow’s leaders and starting with their surrounding, built environment is as good of place as any to start and encourage their educational growth.

Resources: Chicago Architecture Foundation, New Urbanism, ArchKIDecture, and EIA Energy Kids


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Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.
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