‘Architects going into schools to talk about and teach architecture is like birth control for architects.’
-the president of a prominent architectural organization that focuses on design education
At a recent summit on design education that pulled together an elite group of designers from across the country, I was struck by a deep, growing enthusiasm for getting youth engaged in design. However, what was more striking was the generally held notion amongst the participants that all it takes is the enthusiasm of young designers to accomplish great things with youth.
How do you grow awesome, cutting edge programs like the Center For Urban Pedagogy, Project H’s Studio H or our very own Shadelab, that completely rethink how learning occurs and how we engage youth in the design of the places they live, work, play and learn?
Sure, if you have smartly designed your programming then young adults like our superstar intern, Brenda, who have passed through these programs eventually are integrated back in as leaders, thus expanding capacity. However, until we also focus on intentionally growing an army of Damon Rich’s or Emily Piloton’s, my ability to grow significantly grow Public Workshop’s–the same could be said for Damon or Emily– programming and the impact we’re having, is limited. In short, for ‘us’ to continue to redefine possibility it is necessary to grow and support an army of talented community-oriented design educators who have the ability to not only passionately lead these programs but also create their own endeavors that test the very limits of learning and how we engage people in the design our neighborhoods, and cities. For a variety of reasons, schools and cultural institutions are not doing a great job at addressing this demand.
Public Workshop is working on a number of initiatives to meet this need but perhaps one of the most joyful opportunities involves our yearly design-build workshop for talented Chicago Public School students on the property of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
One of our most important laboratories for completely challenging assumptions about how people learn about design and participate in the making of architecture, public spaces, neighborhoods, etc.- the week long workshop is a rare opportunity to take a no-holds-barred approach to testing the limits of possibility. With a relatively limitless amount of space, mounds of scrap materials, a diverse group of talented teens and the enthusiastic support of the Taliesin staff, the week offers a unique chance to test new teaching and design methods; things that simply aren’t possible in a traditional learning or design environment. It also provides a life-changing opportunity for these young adults to transform from talented students into empowered ‘doers’, who have the confidence to start to initiate positive change in their schools and communities.
The Teaching Fellows program is a new initiative of Public Workshop and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, intended to support the growth of remarkable design educators by giving them an opportunity to share in and contribute to this incredibly unique experience.
Congratulations to our 2011 Teaching Fellows, Daniel Splaingard and Katie Koch. Daniel and Katie are already doing incredible work with youth and we couldn’t be more excited to have them join us. Katie is one of the founders of Project Interaction, a 10-week after school program that teaches high schoolers to use design to change their communities. Daniel is a Rose Fellow at the Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation where he will be working with on the next iteration of Shadelab, the youth-led data and story gathering program we created with Landon Bone Baker Architects. Daniel and Katie’s work is exemplary–they are two of the very best, most promising design education leaders we’ve seen in quite awhile– and we are so excited to have them be a part of the team.
Katie co-founded Project: Interaction, an after school program that teaches high school students how to change their communities using design. She is a recent graduate from the MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Outside of her work creating a framework for high school design curriculum, Katie is a user experience designer whose work focuses on the ways people build relationships and interact with each other when mediated by technology and community engagement. She holds a BFA in Visual Communications from Washington University in St. Louis and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Daniel Splaingard currently works as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow with Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, a non-profit affordable housing developer in Chicago. Previously, Daniel trained at Auburn University and spent extensive time at the Rural Studio, working on a variety of housing and community related projects including a team-based thesis project beginning a major renovation of a 40 acre public park in West Alabama funded by a grant from Major League Baseball. Beyond graduation he remained with the Rural Studio as a member of the teaching staff for two years before coming to Chicago. Since arriving in the city, he has worked on collaborative design/build projects with several area non-profits and has been involved in youth design education with AfterSchoolMatters. Currently, in conjunction with Landon Bone Baker Architects he is helping to lead a summer research program with high school students called AirLab, where they will focus on investigating indoor air quality at Bickerdike’s recently completed Rosa Parks Apartments.