Via Mollie Wohlforth
November 29, 2021
The newest designers in New York City took the stage at Marymount School of Manhattan to present their completed reimaginations of their educational home. The 8th grade students, the seventh cohort of students in the ICAA’s flagship youth program New Heights, shared their designs with not just their peers, parents and teachers, but also with a panel of professional architects who shared glowing feedback about the student’s work. Their project was the result of a prompt that responded to New Heights 7.0’s theme: A Living City: An Exploration into Classical & Vernacular Architecture, the Environment, and Our Society.
Students sit in the dome they constructed as a class with instructor Lauren Rubin
The students’ presentations of their design projects were the culmination of New Heights’ week of immersive instruction that took place in October. Over the course of four days, Marymount’s students transformed into architects, designers, historians, and engineers through interactive class discussions and presentations from practitioners and educators, hands-on building and design activities, and walking tours throughout the neighborhood that students walk through every day on their way to school. Students employed the principles of structural design as they competed to create structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows that were the most successful at load bearing; learned about the geometry that underlies classical architecture through building a dome in their gym; unpacked how artists and architects have always worked together to create beautiful and impactful buildings through a drawing exercise taught in front of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and tried their hand at gold leafing under the instruction of a master gilder who demonstrated the lasting vibrancy of traditional craftsmanship and trades.
Instructor Michael Romero discusses with students New York City's architectural history in front of the Guggenheim
The resonance of the program’s theme, and the lessons students gleaned from each session, is evidenced perhaps no more clearly than through the final projects they worked on over the course of the several weeks following New Heights. The work the students created in collaborative small groups was exceptionally strong, demonstrating not just their thoughtful creativity, but their humor, individuality, and empathy towards their own Marymount community as well as the broader New York City community that their designs would fit within. Into their classical facades, they interwove their school’s own symbols, color schemes, and historical role in New York City’s educational field. In their redesigned interior spaces, they incorporated lounge spaces for student relaxation, libraries open to the public that would spread their love of learning beyond Marymount’s doors, and gardens that would bring greenery to the broader community. Guided by the ICAA’s New Heights teaching team, the students demonstrated that classical design, contemporary city life, and forward-thinking solutions should all be considered to create lasting and meaningful contributions to their own built environment.
Student work presented at the Final Showcase, featuring a redesign of Marymount's 97th Street school building
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