Monday, March 14, 2011

Children Resources - 12 Year Old

I am a parent of a child (12) that has expressed an interest in architecture as a career path.  I have little knowledge of the field myself but wish to encourage him and help him to explore the profession while he is still young.  Ideally I’d like to introduce activities, knowledge and real life experiences that will prepare him for his future career.  Any information, useful links or recommendations you can make would be sincerely appreciated.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

First, congratulations on your child's interest in architecture.  I do hope this is all helpful; this is not a complete list but is a good start.  Do keep in touch for more help along the way.

There are numerous activities that your child could pursue now and in the future to foster an interest in architecture.  Do check the ARCHCareers Blog - - to research other questions posed to me with answers.  Another resource for the long term is Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition.

Beyond the programs listed below, encourage your child to learn to "see" their environment.  This can most easily done by drawing their environment -- draw, draw, and draw.  If possible, have them in a formal course, but just drawing what they see is helpful.  Architects use computers, but seeing and drawing are more helpful.  You could try SketchUp which is a free download from Google.

As much as possible, try to find your child a mentor, an architect with whom they can meet every six months or so to discuss and be encouraged.  Again, simply call an architect you may know or use the local AIA to identify a connection.

Attached is a list of summer programs -- most are targeted at high school students, but some are for younger children.  I am also highlighting the one with GA Tech as your area code suggests you are in the Atlanta area.
Georgia Institute of Technology - Atlanta, GA
June 13-June 24, 2011 (2 weeks)

Also, connect with the AIA Atlanta and their programs for K-12 -

National groups that may have helpful information.
CUBE: Center for Understanding the Built Environment
5328 W. 67th St.
Prairie Village, Kansas 66208-1408

National Building Museum
401 F St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

Architecture Books for Kids

Other books to consider (not written by me, but mother of fifth grader)
In Building a House, Byron Barton, an author-illustrator who specializes in simplicity, takes a young child through every phase of construction from bare hill to moving in. As with most of his books, the bright primary-colored art has background easily separated from foreground and clear details that make it easy for a young construction enthusiast to identify materials and tools. Ages 2-5. (Mulberry Books, $4.95) ISBN 0-688-09356-6

For a child who is still young, but wants a more complete picture of the process, non-fiction-pro Gail Gibbons creates How A House is Built. She begins with an architect's role and on a cheerful double-spread introduces all the people (male and female) that will be necessary to the completion of the project. Gibbons then details out all the work with words and illustrations that vary in perspectives, interior and exterior work, but all with an ebulence that will match the excitement of an interested. Ages 4-6. (Holiday House, $13.95) ISBN 0-8234-0841-8

I nearly flunked geometry and have a hard time imagining what pictured architecture feels like. Castles: A 3-Dimensional Exploration by Gillian Osband and Robert Andrew is the kind of book that can get you beyond words and images and into experiencing.  As giant structures pop-up from the pages, history, medieval life and architectural development all come to life. Ages 5-10. (Orchard, $15.95) ISBN 0-531-05949-9

Kids generally have self as focus and therefore two books that relate architecture to themselves are helpful for understanding concepts. ForrestWilson's What It Feels Like To Be A Building describes the functions of various constructions to analagous human conditions in both text and illustration.  He presents, for example, a compressed human figure to describe how it feels to be a column "squashed" between ground and building. Concepts grow increasingly more complex throughout the book.  This book is fun to act out which is what Mr. Wilson does in his workshops with kids. Ages 5-10. (Preservation Press, $10.95) ISBN 0-89133-147-6

Older children interested in architectural artistry will enjoy Round Buildings, Square Buildings, & Buildings That Wiggle Like a Fish by Philip M. Isaacson. The magnificent color photographs are taken from all perspectives and reveal not only well-known architectural monuments of the world, but lesser recognized structures as well.  With a humanistic approach, Isaacson captures the magic of the harmony of a building gives a sense of how buildings go together and effect people through light and the feelings they create. Ages 7-adult. (Knopf, $14.95) ISBN 0-394-89382-4

When children are older they begin to want more specifics. Architects Make Zigzags: Looking at Architecture from A to Z with drawings by Roxie Munro is an alphabetic look at many details that put the art in architecutre. The writing is as clear and direct as Munro's black and white drawings. The details are representative of a wide variety of styles (everything from brackets to quoins) and geographic locations of well-known buildings (everywhere from Michigan to Lousiana). Ages 6-11. (National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation, $9.95)

David Macaulay is an author-illustrator whose name has become synomomous with animated presentation of architecture for children that adults enjoy as well. His books are filled with detailed black and white drawings that bring alive architectural history of specific buildings, reveal tools, methods, and workmanship which led to achievements, and describe step-by-step the process and workings of buildings. His award-winning books include Cathedral Ages 7 to adult. (Houghton Mifflin, $7.95) ISBN 0-395-31668-5

McCauley's tongue and cheek Motel of the Mysteries was published about the time the King Tut exhibit was making its rounds. In this fictional piece, a modern day motel is unearthed in the next century with a mock seriousness that is truely Tut-mania inspired.

Dr. Architecture


Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to post such a thorough and unbiased way to introduce children to architecture. My 8 year old wants to be an architect when he is older and I have been trying to find ways to expose him to the world of architecture. I will be taking heed to your excellent advice by encouraging him to "see" the world by drawing as well as seeking a mentor and reading! I will see if our local library carries the books you suggested and the one that he loves I will purchase later. Again, thanks for taking the time to reply to that parents question because you have helped many parents facing that same dilemma!

Ms. Lauren said...

I too, am a parent in Santa Monica, with an 8-year old who loves to draw and has dreams of pursuing the path of an architect. We have toured around the city viewing famous architectural structures (Disney Concert Hall, etc.) to wet his appetite and imagination. Lego also has a very small architectural series with sets of some famous architecture with a matching booklet of information on the architect. Thank you for your information and your willingness and generousity in helping our young ones explore this passion.

Unknown said...

I wrote this on google and thank you, but i am 12 years, and i love architecture a lto and i want as my future carrier, too.

I'll say thank you again for your help.

Unknown said...

Thank you a lot for your information , i just typed this because i am 12 years lod and love architecture too, so i will say it again, thank you.