Architecture + Education Program Allows Kids to Dream Up Digs

Olivia Arcara with third-graders for Architecture + Education.

UB architecture student Olivia Arcara conferences with third-graders, from left, Julia Burger, Samantha O'Donnell, Madyson Jakuminiak and Ethan Kane, about their home on Venus. Photo: Douglas Levere

By Charlotte Hsu

Published January 13, 2014

Owen Gangloff’s bedroom on Saturn has two refrigerators: one next to his indoor hot tub and one beside his bed for easy snacking when he’s watching basketball on TV.

The third-grader dreamed up these dream digs while designing an outer space habitat through the Architecture + Education program in the Buffalo Public Schools. After learning about the solar system and design principles, Gangloff and his classmates broke into teams to build models of houses fit for survival on a planet of their choice.

As they planned their dwellings, each group had support from their teachers, Genevieve DeCarlo and Trish Reese at the Discovery School, as well as School of Architecture and Planning student Olivia Arcara. Danielle Johnson, a 2009 graduate of the school's MArch program and a volunteer architect from local firm Carmina Wood Morris, was also on hand to help the students.

student and her dwelling design on Mercury

Grace Gagnon shows a plan of her room on Mercury. Photo: Douglas Levere

The goal of Architecture + Education is to introduce young people to architecture as a profession and show them how architecture relates to topics they’re studying in class. For example, eighth-graders learning about the industrial revolution designed tenements and factories, while a preschool class created an alphabet neighborhood.

The program is run by the Buffalo Architecture Foundation, which enlisted 23 professional architects, 11 UB School of Architecture and Planning students and one interior design student from SUNY Buffalo State to work in 20 K-8 classrooms this year.

Works from this year’s Architecture + Education program are on exhibit in the CEPA Gallery in the Market Arcade Building, 617 Main St., Buffalo, from Jan 10 through Jan. 24.

In DeCarlo’s classroom, Gangloff wasn’t the only young mind with creative ideas. A band of students on Mercury topped their home with a spherical solar array, capitalizing on their proximity to the Sun. A home on Venus included an antenna for communicating with friends on Earth. And though you can’t see it, Gangloff’s group surrounded its house with an invisible force field for protection from Saturn’s high winds.

Third graders with Danielle Johnson

Angelina Hill talks with architect Danielle Johnson, a 2009 MArch graduate from the School of Architecture and Planning, about her plan for her home on Uranus. Photo: Douglas Levere