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Our project makes sense to 8th Graders…

October 2, 2010

We’ve met lots of people who can’t fathom why in the world we bought some old big building that a hundred years ago, was a place where telephone operators pulled cables and plugged them into sockets.

But we have a special audience that just accepts it in stride, listens with awe, and thinks about creative ways to use the space.

I am talking about young kids, from the 4th to the 9th grade, who have been attending the Alberti Program at Washington University in Saint Louis. They are all students in the public schools, and the intent is to expose them to concepts of architecture, community and sustainable design, as they might not otherwise get exposure to. (Click here to read more about it.)

Background: Sue is an alum of Washington University, still maintains involvement in the school in many ways, and the Alberti instructor Gay Lorberbaum asked Sue if we would be interested in being guest lecturers. That was a few years ago, and we have been speaking to them ever since. If you’re thinking “Wait a minute – you didn’t even know about BAB until April of 2009…” – you’ve been paying attention and you’re right – but we’ve been talking to these bright kids since we were involved with our OTHER project – Soda Water Studio. (That effort failed miserably – which also made a great topic and lesson for the kids.)

We use the storyline of our building search drama as background to bigger messages about topics like “Creativity”, “Perseverance”, etc.

Last weekend, we visited with them again. We were asked to talk about some of our current sustainable initiatives, as well as some of our ideas we have for our roof garden. And we always give an update with where we are in our project, which typically can be tied to the topic of the day. We showed up a little early this last time, to set up our laptop and make sure the technology is in order, and we were delighted to see a little model of our “apartment” that was created by some older students.

Someone even modeled the spiral stairs.

I won’t drag out the details of our presentation – cuz most of the content is already in this blog, like reusing kitchen cabinets, restoring the metal windows, and building a security gate out of random parts at the scrapyard. I guess we haven’t even considered to laud the green merits of these things as we write about them – they’ve become second nature to us and we kind of forget about it.

In this blog, we’ve found that the audience really wants to see Lucy – the same is true with the kids. We have to keep increasing the “Lucy coverage” as we get requests to “show more Lucy!”.

To wrap this up – we’ve realized that we get a lot more back from these kids than we originally expected.

As Architects, it gives us the opportunity to be evangelists about our profession, regardless of the age of the listener.The kids are like sponges and engage us in everything we have to say.

As “building owners”, we are delighted to hear their amazing ideas. From the “Christmas tree room”, to a library space where books are suspended in air, to a slide that gets you secret access to a room full of cushions. (I better get working on revised drawings now!)

And as members of our community, if our “don’t give up” messages (believe me, we have a LOT of those!) convince just ONE under-privileged junior high student to “stay in school”, that’s worth more than anything that BAB becomes for us.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    October 3, 2010 1:08 pm

    Kudos to you both! Mike never understood why I spent 20 years volunteering with the Boy Scouts – you can. Kids give you so much satisfaction for the time you give them. The progress on the project looks great!

    • Sue permalink
      October 4, 2010 9:58 am

      So many people pushed us along, it only seems proper to do the same!

  2. rick permalink
    October 2, 2010 8:43 pm

    Wow Tom, NICE story.


  1. Congratulations to the Alberti Program! | B. A. B.
  2. This guy- he’s crazy! « B. A. B.

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