Connecting Students to Design
With all of the digital overload students experience today, connecting with them through print can be challenging. When Architect Allie Jarett and Landscape Architect Borden Edgerton represented BCWH at the Annual Career Fair at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, they went armed with construction documents and floor plans of the middle school they were standing in. While some students showed interest in engaging with the plans and pointing out their classroom or their locker, more students showed interest in relating the design profession to a particular video game.
The game of Minecraft© involves creating and destroying blocks in order to build a three dimensional world of your own with no objective to the game other than to just create. Allie and Borden explained to the students that when you play games that focus on manipulating space, you are developing the skill of three dimensional thinking that is very important for an architect or landscape architect to possess. Architects and landscape architects must be able to envision spatial relationships that don’t yet exist and also think technically about how a corner of a building comes together and how a site knits together.
While some students had an obvious interest in design, many students were not familiar with the numerous career options available in the design industry and needed guidance into the basic areas of design. We probed students with questions such as:
“Do you like to draw?” “What are your creative outlets?” “Are you more interested in buildings, interiors, or the outdoors?” “What school subjects do you enjoy most? Science? Art? Math?”
We found that when we prompted students with guided questions, they were more responsive and engaged, and could better connect to architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, city planning, and engineering. One student revealed she enjoyed needle work and sewing patterns but had not made the connection between her eye for patterns and that of an interior design career shaping larger interior spaces. Then, to really ground this idea, we revealed that interior designers from BCWH helped plan the furniture, finishes, colors, and spatial arrangements in her own school.
The ultimate goal was to expose the students at MLK to the field of architecture and design and captivate their interest by relating what we do to their everyday lives. Through guided questions and connecting their answers to tangible results, the students began to understand the attainability and benefits of a career in design.