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Suspension Bridges, a Home for Snakes, 3-D Window Shades

Buffalo elementary school architects use complex principles to build new worlds

Release Date: January 6, 2012

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Students from Buffalo's Discovery School worked with UB architecture students and local architects to design houses and infrastructure for the Architecture + Education program.

Students from Buffalo's School 53 teamed up with Beth Tauke, UB associate professor of architecture, to design a bridge for the Architecture + Education program.

A student from Buffalo's School 53 shows off a bridge he designed during the Archirecture + Education program.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the assistance of Buffalo-area professional architects, their teachers and University at Buffalo architecture and planning students, elementary school children in several City of Buffalo schools have worked all semester to come up with a treat for you.

On Friday they opened the 2011 Architecture + Education exhibition of colorful, functional environments and infrastructures the kids designed and a wide variety of animals. The work was produced during 10-week hands-on classroom projects that employed architectural principles along with lessons in math, earth sciences, geography, physics and animal behavior.

This colorful exhibition will open with a public reception 5-8 p.m. at the CEPA Gallery, 617 Main Street, Buffalo, in the Market Arcade, and will run through Jan. 18.

In attendance will be special guest Amber Dixon, acting superintendant of Buffalo Schools.

The child-architects, who attend Discovery School #67, Frederick Law Olmsted School #64, Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, the Architecture and Design Academy, and Community School #53, will be on hand to explain and demonstrate their projects. They will be joined by their teachers, the UB student architects and the professional architects who assisted them, parents and other interested visitors.

Some projects required students to research climatic contexts to insure the proper function of their structures and then to design and construct buildings, pathways and entrance areas, circulation patterns, green spaces, and outdoor rooms appropriate to that function.

First-graders designed and tested methods of shading classroom windows using three-dimensional shapes in various configurations. Fourth graders built bridges out of sticks and tested them to see how many bricks they would support before they collapsed (seven in one case, one in another), then analyzed the results to understand why.

Some children studied the geography, life cycle and behaviors of several polar animals (including the elusive arctic fox), then constructed built environments to accommodate them and the humans who live among them. Others designed and built a miniature nature park with homes-away-from-home for snakes and bears, lions, frogs and other wildlife. The youngest participants -- kindergarteners at the Olmsted School -- selected letters of the alphabet to serve as the basis for multi-purpose functional spaces they then designed and constructed.

All will be on display during the exhibition along with diagrams, maps and photos that illustrate projects from inception to completion.

Architecture + Education is a decades-old program of the Buffalo Architecture Foundation. The fall 2011 projects were coordinated by Beth Tauke, associate professor of architecture at UB. Partners included the American Institute of Architects Western New York Chapter and the Buffalo Public Schools. This year's sponsors were Cannon Design, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Watts Architecture & Engineering, PC.

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Patricia Donovan
News Content Manager
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Tel: 716-645-4602