Career Day!


So I've agreed to talk to a class of bright 5th graders about being an architect.  Over the course of the year, they'll also hear from a builder, a developer, a landscape architect, a planner, an engineer, etcetera.

Has anyone done this before for a young audience?  I'm thinking I could bring a model.  Or show some slides.  Or....

Regarding topics, I want to hit the main things we consider in doing a project, since that's the overarching purpose of inviting this string of speakers.  So, function/program, users, site, environment, etc, as we shape form and space.  (I know, I'm bored just writing that.  But it's what we do!)

Any brilliant ideas I could shamelessly steal?

Nov 14, 18 8:47 pm

Throw the builder, developer, landscape architect, planner, and engineer under the bus.

Nov 14, 18 9:28 pm
Non Sequitur

throw together a bunch of various sized shoeboxes, objects from the class and whatnot... sizes representative of different program or building elements. Then get them to stack them and sketch out a final form from what they piled together c/w "fill in the blank" for extra design flair.

Not sure how to reach that age group... I'm resisting the urge to say plug in a laptop and load sketchup.

Nov 14, 18 9:32 pm

Shoeboxes are shipping containers

Non Sequitur

They can be. They can also be 9-storey apartment buildings.... or a sink. It all depends on the explanation.


I would do an activity for them.  For example, give them some kind of fun kid place they can design like a dream playhouse, their house, summer camp, obstacle course, etc., Have them draw a 'plan' on construction paper.  Maybe they have a bunch of options for what their plan looks like - cutting out shapes from colored paper and gluing them or using colored pencils/crayons/markers to delineate spaces and show what's happening inside the space.  You could also do this with partners so one person is making the other person's plan?  (I don't know how long you have but that may take a lot of extra time.)  Before they start drawing, you could talk about ideas like circulation and programming, but in very basic ways - like 'how do you get from one room to another'... If you have time, then a few kids could present their ideas and why they made certain choices - like why they wanted a swimming pool in the kitchen and what they did on their paper to depict it.

I think it would also be good to talk briefly about what happens after you finish the plan.  It goes off to a contractor, who looks at it and builds it.  The engineer helps you make sure it works.

Nov 15, 18 10:50 am

This would be awesome, but I think I only have about 45 minutes.


I did this for 9-12 grade: show images of great projects, images of the process, and slip in the more mundane stuff in between.  The design part was overly emphasized, but at early stage it's less on knowing day-to-day and more on peaking interest.  Given that related fields are there, it might be good to explain how we all work together. 

One other point that I felt was well received was the breadth of the profession and how different skills were needed since I feel some students feel discouraged because they may be missing one or another (art/design, math, writing/communication, teamwork).

Nov 15, 18 12:20 pm

This could go well with Miles's 2nd suggestion...

Treat them like a client, give them a full presentation of a fun / cool project.

My father did this to my third grade class at PS 6 (upper East side, Manhattan) and when he was done one little bugger asked where the swimming pool was.

Try not to think about all the lives you'll be ruining by encouraging them to be architects.

Nov 15, 18 1:21 pm

I like this presentation idea. And don't worry, this is not a recruitment talk. If I'm honest enough, some kids may run from the room crying.

Bring models.  Kids LOVE models.

Nov 15, 18 3:08 pm

I'm thinking you're right about this. I'll have to borrow one.


1. Prepare a slideshow of the best looking houses that your city/county has to offer.

2. Ask them what they think of when they think of nice houses.

3. Proceed to show them the nicest houses that you've found.

4. Tell them that they'll never be able to afford these houses if you're an architect.

5. End the presentation by crying hysterically and wondering why you ever became an architect in the first place.

Nov 15, 18 7:01 pm

Maybe show them the stuff that made you choose architecture in the first place, and maybe reflect a little on that if it all still holds up and what is keeping you in architecture currently.

Nov 16, 18 6:34 am

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