Thursday, July 30, 2009

CAF Partners with Upward Bound

I recently had the opportunity to work with the Chicago Architecture Foundation on a workshop designed to teach high school students a little something about architecture and planning. CAF partnered with the Upward Bound Program this time, but the format is very similar to that used in the Saturdays in the Studio program, something CAF does every year.

We broke into several groups, each occupying a table and each lead by an architect or planner. Each table was given a map of a different city; Chicago, New York, Dubrovnik, Split and San Francisco. The cities were selected using a proven algorithm defined by whatever maps employees of CAF had brought back with them from their travels.

Each group then outlined the major components onto trace paper. The purpose of this exersise is to get the students to notice the elements that shape a city, both man-made and natural. Each group had to present their findings before we continued the exersise in the atrium using the new Chicago Model City Exhibit.

Now that the students had thoroughly honed their skills in urban observation it was time to put them to use in the real world. Each group was assigned a nearby intersection; my group went to Jackson and Michigan. We pointed out the stark contrast between the west side with the Michigan Ave wall and the other with the Art Institute and the park. What amazed me was the amount of infrastructure packed into about 4 blocks; our intersection had an entrance and exit ramp to the underground parking below, a pedestrian elevator to access that parking, a littler further east the Metra lines ran under Jackson and to the west is a Brownline stop. I tend to take theses things for granted when they’re running smoothly I suppose.

This was one session of Upward Bound's summer program. This particular program is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in architecture, planning, civil engineering, etc. and runs for about 8 weeks this summer. Before they met with us at CAF they were touring IIT's College of Architecture. More information.

It was an easy fit for the CAF people who run the Saturdays in the Studio program. Check out this year's schedule. If you're interested in volunteering please contact Krisann Rehbein.

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