Headshot of Jesse Lazar
Jesse Lazar, Interim Executive Director, AIA New York | Center for Architecture. Photography: Sam Lahoz.

In addition to the many beautiful and innovative spaces of learning our members are designing all over the world, our very own Center for Architecture serves as a vital node for K–12 education here at home.

While we welcome adult learners every week—architects sharpening technical skills, emerging professionals doing Architect Exam prep, members of the public seeking to understand more about the built environment—the Center is also constantly buzzing with elementary, middle, and high school students who come to us for special learning experiences designed and delivered by our talented K–12 Education team.

We talk a lot about these vital programs, which have been growing since their beginnings in the 1990s, and now reach over 9,500 students, teachers, and families each year. We offer hands-on educational experiences in architectural drawing, sketching, collage, 3D and digital design, model building, mapping, and site visits, through design residencies for K–12 classes in NYC schools and at the Center; a series of summer studios, vacation programs, and after-school programs; Family Days and weekend programs for children and their caregivers; and career exploration programs and professional development, including a partnership with NYC’s Department of Youth and Community Development to provide training for after-school educators in underserved neighborhoods.

These are some of the most valuable programs we do: exposing a broad and diverse student population to architecture and design concepts, cultivating
a design-literate society, introducing students to their own career possibilities, and expanding the universe of potential future architects. Our programs also sup-port student learning across disciplines such as science, math, language arts, and social studies, as architecture has the unique power to do. It’s a significant moment for these programs, as our longtime director of education, Catherine Teegarden, prepares to retire this summer. Catherine helped found the Learning by Design:NY program, has taught with us for many years, and since 2009 has led and grown our reach and impact significantly as director. We will miss her dedication and skill, but we are excited about the next chapter of leadership and expansion for these wonderful programs.

The support of the AIA New York Chapter and larger architecture and design community in New York has been central to the K–12 program’s success and growth over the years, and we’re so grateful for it. We can’t wait to share its future impacts with all of you!


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