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Introduction to Architecture in Urban Schools

Rochester Architecture Foundation brings Architecture into the High School Classroom

RAF has launched a pilot program to expand career opportunities for young people from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds.
The initiative brings an introduction to the field of architecture into the midst of the school day at the High School level.
This has been enabled by a partnership with Rochester Prep High School, where the course is taught twice a week throughout the school year.

Nearing the end of the first year of a two year pilot period, "Introduction to Architecture" has shown great promise.


The lead instructor for the course is Christina Fluman, an Architectural Designer at Edge Architecture. Ms. Fluman holds a B.A. in Environmental Design, policy and planning from Stony Brook University and a Master’s of Architecture from Syracuse University. Classes are supplemented by guest instructors and field trips to local projects of design interest.

The premise for the course is that Architecture can offer young people the opportunity for a rewarding professional career and an opportunity to have a beneficial impact on their community.

Students begin to learn the opportunities that could be available to them as professional architects, but also of the demands for advanced education and the development of precise skills required to enter the profession. In addition to the career of a licensed architect, the field also offers opportunities in engineering, construction, real-estate development, computer design, and other professional and civic leadership positions.

The program developed and launched by RAF will help young people develop a sense of vocation that could lead them either to professional careers as architects or to careers in one of these related fields. While the course Introduction to Architecture has been launched at Rochester Prep, RAF envisions expanding this program to other schools in future years.

Traditionally, most architects have been white males. Fewer than two out five practicing architects are women and fewer than one in five identifies as a racial or ethnic minority. While some strides are being made to increase participation by individuals representing a broader range, the field will benefit from more diversity.
There is a need to enable more young women and minority individuals to think of architecture as a
possible future career. Architecture is a growing field. In 2022 there was a 9 percent increase in the
number of people taking the architecture licensing examination and 35,000 people reported gaining
experience toward taking the exam. Nonetheless, architectural firms currently face a lack of qualified
new people, making this a propitious time for traditionally underrepresented people to enter the

Organizational Qualifications

Rochester Prep is a charter school founded in 2006 that provides education for Grades K-12 at 7 campuses, including a high school located in downtown Rochester. To prepare students for college, Rochester Prep offers a longer school day and a longer school year. Rochester Prep educates young people who are residents of the city of Rochester, primarily minority young people. The school has had an exceptionally high graduation and college acceptance rate.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of this program is to enable young people from non-traditional backgrounds to gain a better understanding of architecture so that they can begin considering it as a career field for themselves and take the first steps towards preparing for careers as licensed architects or in related occupations.

Objective 1: Provide 10-20 students at Rochester Prep high school with an introductory course in
architecture that will help them understand architecture and the requirements for pursuing a
career as a licensed architect or in a related occupation. (There are currently 15 students in the
program ranging in age from 9th through 12th Grade.)
Objective 2: A number of the seniors who complete the course will enroll in an architectural or
design related program at an accredited college or university.
Objective 3: Introduce students to STEM/STEAM curriculum components to help establish a
diverse and inclusive pipeline for youth to engage in architecture, construction, and engineering
industries. The course will enhance student awareness of these fields and bring awareness of the
architectural field's integration of science, technology, engineering, art, architecture, and
Objective 4: Award a scholarship to qualified applicants.
Objective 5: Create an internship at a local architectural firm for students who are pursuing their
college or university level degree in architecture.

Background and Development

RAF was founded in 2009 to promote architecture and architectural education.

Rochester Prep is a charter school founded in 2006 that offers K-12 instruction, focusing primarily on young people in the city of Rochester who are minorities.

In designing this course, the RAF consulted with the National Architecture Foundation, Buffalo Architecture Foundation, AIA Cleveland, AIA Rochester, and the ACE Mentor program.

In planning for the entry of program graduates into college programs in architecture, RAF also reviewed prerequisite requirements with Alfred State School of Architecture (preparatory requirements), Syracuse University School of Architecture (pre-college program for high school students), Rochester Institute of Technology (Project Lead the Way), the State University at Buffalo (A+E Program), and Kent State University (Understanding Architecture).

Introduction to Architecture has a target enrollment of 15 students in Grades 9 - 12. Classes are taught 2 days per week for a total of 60 classes. Each one hour class includes both didactic instruction and discussion. RAF also intends to develop/qualify the course for advanced placement/college credit. In addition to acquainting students with architecture, the class will also teach them about the requirements for pursuing careers in architecture and the application requirements for area architectural schools (e.g., SUNY Alfred, Syracuse University, SUNY at Buffalo, etc.).

The course will pose such questions as: What is architecture? Who are architects and what do they do? In the course, Ms. Fluman and her students will explore these and other questions through the lens of creative problem solving. During the first part of the course, students will be introduced to the historical context of architecture and how it has developed over thousands of years and the tools, art, and science that were used in its creation. Students will then move on to exploring methods of representation, starting with hand drawing and moving into digital programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign as they transition into 3D modeling programs. The last part of the course will be a final project that will be determined at the culmination of the second portion of the course and determined jointly by the instructor and the student. This project will ultimately be presented and can be used as a future portfolio piece.

The specific learning goals of the course are:

● An understanding of how architectural form is dependent on environmental factors such as climate, topography, and the availability of materials.
● An understanding of the materials and technologies of building adopted by human groups in their own time and place.
● Understanding how composition and experience principles in architecture express values and intentions.
● An understanding of how the social role of architects and designers has evolved.
● An understanding of the roles played in shaping the built environment by many actors who are not professional designers.
● Promote an understanding of the patterns of spatial organization, both physical and perceptual, employed to accommodate human activities and behavior.
● Develop and utilize critical thinking in observation of the built environment to appreciate and question the intent and circumstances influencing the design and construction of buildings.
● Develop proficiency in using the tools introduced in the course and how they may be put to use to represent design ideas, and the ultimate presentation of these ideas.

The first half of the course consists of a six-week introduction to Egyptian, African, Greek, Roman, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, concluding with the Industrial Revolution and modern architecture. This overview of various schools of architecture is followed by three weeks discussing architects and their work, as well as research and presentations.

The second half of the course provides students with an introduction, combined with hands-on experience, to specific architectural skills and techniques, including: Shading and continuous line drawing, 2D representation, one and two-point perspective, Image Tracor, PhotoShop, extrusions and Booleans, and other skills.

The course will conclude with a final student project. At the end of the course, the student will have gained a comprehensive survey of the world of architecture as well as a solid introduction to specific skills utilized in the architectural profession. These gains in knowledge and introduction to specific skills will help students to determine whether they would view architecture as a good vocational choice for themselves.

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Rochester Architecture Foundation

5 Castle Park

Rochester, NY  14620

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