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City students get hands-on lessons in architecture

Models of city neighborhoods created by Buffalo public school students are currently on display at the CEPA Gallery. Students made the structures as part of an Architecture & Education Program.

Architecture & Education Committee Chair Linsey Graff says the program which aims to promote the importance of architecture.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Buffalo Public's Community School #53 Teacher Richard Buchnowski and Student Nelson Rodriguez.

“These kids need to learn about their community. They need to learn about some of the local buildings that we have in Buffalo. If they know about them, they can appreciate them, and I think that’s how we can create a generation of kids that have a foundation in appreciating our local architecture,” said Graff.

Twenty teams of local volunteer architects collaborated with Buffalo public school teachers, and University at Buffalo students to teach young people about the profession.

“They work with the architect over a two month period, so they’re required to go in 8 to 10 times. The first 5 or 6 times they’re doing warm up exercises and showing the progress of how they’re learning. They are learning what a floor plan is, they’re learning what a section is, they’re learning what an elevation is,” said Graff.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Architecture & Education Chair Person Linsey Graff.

Discovery School #67, Frederick Law Olmstead #64, Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, Buffalo Public School #81, and Community School #53 are the six Buffalo public schools that participated in the project.

The participating classes were educated about the different architectural structures found in the city including the grain elevators, as well as various factories and tenements. Graff says for some of the student’s final project they constructed their dream house out of recycled and non-recycled materials.

“So you see a lot of east side neighborhoods now there’s a lot of houses being demolished and the kids live in these neighborhoods, so we’re trying to tell them there’s an alternative to demolishing a house. You can re-purpose it into something else, but it takes a little bit of a catalyst to get the neighborhood moving,” said Graff.

Community School #53 8th grader Nelson Rodriguez says he enjoyed learning how to use architectural tools.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Artwork found at the CEPA Gallery exhibit.

“They showed us blueprints of actual buildings that they’ve drawn to scale and I thought that was pretty cool, because I’ve never seen a blueprint, even though my Dad is in construction,” said Rodriguez.

Community School #53 Social Studies Teacher Richard Buchnowski says the project also helped clear up his students misconceived notions about what architects actually do for a living.

“We had the students draw what an architect looks like. The pictures that would have indicated they were construction workers. There predetermined thought about what an architect was, was changed by meeting these people and interacting with them and finding they’re normal people, and they just have a specific job, and the job is something they can do with some training,” said Buchnowski.

Rodriguez says he can use the skills he learned during the Architecture and Education Program in the future.

“I honestly wasn’t going to go into architecture, I was going to go into filming and stuff, but I’m probably going to use that on sets or something,” said Rodriguez.

The student’s artworks are on display at the CEPA Gallery located inside the Market Arcade Building in downtown Buffalo until January 24th. The Architecture & Education is a program of Buffalo Architecture Foundation.