MichelleMichelle Obama for Architecture!

Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently spoke at the American Institute of Architects’ 2017 annual meeting. She urged that people who design and build in cities must think about all parts of the city, not just the “important” buildings downtown, but also the communities where children live and play. She also suggested that we – teachers, parents, adults

A Small ABC Book about Architecture

  A is for Architecture is a book by Eric Heuler. With a hand drawn image on each page and a single sentence describing the words from A to Z, the book is a nice introduction to the terms of architecture, from Dome, to Masonry, to Oculus. (An oculus, by the way, is a circular window

Walter GropiusHappy May Birthday, Walter Gropius!

May 18. 1883. The day that Walter Gropius was born. Let’s see, how many years ago was that? 134 years. Gropius was an architect. He was not very good at drawing but he had BIG and NEW ideas. His first job was with an industrial designer, followed by starting his own firm with a partner,

magazines with doorPaper Walls So No Need for Wallpaper

There is an office in Sweden with interior walls made of paper – piles and piles of paper. These “paperwalls” are stacks of magazines that are tightly bound and piled on top of each other.  You can see the edges of the magazines and the string that binds them, and it looks like a random pattern.

Chicago WindowWhat is a Chicago Window?

There are all sorts of windows that an architect might select for a building. Chicago Window A grouping of 3 windows, where there are two double hung windows on the sides of a picture window. These windows were used way back when in Chicago, in buildings like The Marquette Building, one of the earliest skyscrapers built.


Ziggurat. What a goofy sounding word, right? What is a ziggurat and how does it relate to architecture? A ziggurat is a a stepped pyramid. Usually a four-sided structure. There were ziggurats in ancient Mesopotamia and also in ancient pre-Columbian Meso-America, Asia and Europe. Ziggurats are built out of stone and although they are found all

Spanish program about architecture for kidsTeaching Kids about Architecture in Spain

This program has it all – hands-on learning, skill-building, and FUN. Architecture for Kids, or Architectura Par Ninos, is the name of the program, and gives us another case of “darn I wish I lived in Spain” The program is spelled out on the website, where they build structures both big and small, they learn

Draw in 3DDraw in 3D? Sounds AMAZING!!!

A new toy/tool/art supply called a 3Doodler is available so you can draw a 3D object. And this gizmo looks pretty great. It is not inexpensive, a roundabout way of saying that it costs a pretty penny, and it looks like a whole lot of fun. Feed some plastic tubing into a pen-like tool, and

William F. CodyModernism among Palm Trees

Modernism is a style of architecture built in the 1950’s. It is recognizable for straight lines, geometric shapes, lots of windows and light, and little decoration. Palm Springs, California is home for a great deal of modernist homes and structures. Architect William F. Cody designed many of these buildings. A film titled, “Desert Maverick,”  uncovers his prolific

TangramsI Can Build it with Seven Pieces

Can you really build this building with only 7 geometric shapes? This is called a tangram and it is a shape that is built out of a series of other geometric shapes. In this case, it is made of” 1 square 5 triangles (different sizes) 1 parallelogram Can you figure it out with just that much

Origami PlayhouseFold Up a Playhouse

Artist/designer Huy Voun Lee is very clever. Origami Playhouse is more than a book, it is a fold out structure with instructions and supplies with which to make origami furniture. It is cleverly constructed for unfolding to play with and then refolding to store. And it is challenging (but not Too Much) so that a child (perhaps

LAX airportHe Drew Upside Down

Paul R. Williams was a remarkable architect because he designed so many different types of buildings well, because he was a design innovator and a design thinker. Being a black man was (and continues to be) unusual in the field of architecture. Back in his day, it was almost unheard of. He was an excellent draftsman (someone

icosahedron3D Printed Thingys Make Platonic Solids!

You see, there is a man who came up with some 3D printed connector thingys that work with dowels to build any of the five platonic solids. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:9359/apps/#apps You can go to that website and download the instructions for 3D printing all of the connector thingys. And have a great time building the shapes as

aspiring architect bookSo You Want to Be an Architect?

This might be the right book for you! The Aspiring Architect is a workbook, well let’s not call it a WORK book…it is more like a FUN book where you can draw, color, and sketch and (meanwhile) learn something about architecture too. It is an exploration of architecture that is big and famous, like Jefferson’s Monticello, as

FavelaWhat is a Favela?

Although the word sounds sort of glamorous, a favela is not that at all – it is a type of very dense slum, or housing for very poor people, typically found in Brazil’s urban areas. Strangely enough, the word favela comes from a sort of tree that makes people itch. In the late 19th century,

Menno Aden Overhead photo artBird’s Eye View

Menno Aden is an artist who photographs rooms from above, like a bird looking down into a room without a roof. How does he find all of these rooms without roofs? There are never people in these rooms so they have this sort of abstract feeling, like it is playroom for dolls and not real at

Golden Gate Bridge ChicagoBrick by Brick Exhibit

Come to Chicago and see the Golden Gate Bridge. Wait, what? Ok, you are right. You are not going to see the REAL Golden Gate Bridge – however it is a really great model of that famous rust-colored bridge made out of Legos. It is 60 foot long bridge built by Lego building professionals. (Wouldn’t that

Building Brain BustersDo You Know your Building Trivia?

We cannot wait to visit Washington DC to see the Whitehouse, of course, and wave hello to President Obama, and also to visit the National Building Museum. Currently there is an exhibit about icebergs at the museum! Well, really the exhibit is the effect of global warming on the built environment. It looks like great

White House in the United StatesNice House, Mr. President

The White House is one BIG and FAMOUS house. Located in Washington DC, it is the house of the President of the United States and also the workplace for the President and the President’s staff. Originally designed by James Hoban and built in 1792,  the US won independence from Britain in 1783, the first White

Build with pipe cleanersArchitecture Pipe Cleaner Project

Want to build something with old fashioned pipe cleaners? How about trying to build the tallest building possible with some pipe cleaners? Take a limited number of pipe cleaners, say 15. Then try to build the tallest structure possible. Try to twist them together or tie them up or whatever you can do to make

lincoln logsJohn Lloyd Wright built with Logs!

Famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, designed many buildings that were very progressive. Victorian-styled buildings were all the rage when he started to design buildings that emphasized the horizontals of the flat Midwest, with large overhanging eaves and windows grouped in horizontal bands. It was bananas! This kind of design was so new and so different.

Rebuild Foundation Stony Island Arts BankReally Remarkable Reading Room

Whether or not you want to read any of the books in this room, the library room at the Stony Island Arts Bank will make you want to become a major book lover. The room is very tall and there are rows and rows of  books that are donated from the Johnson Publishing Company. Over 60,000

BaseCampSummer 2016 Architecture Camps for Kids in Chicago area

We just got wind of some great camps in Oak Park, Illinois, just west of Chicago, where kids from 1st grade through 8th grade can find a camp that might just knock your socks off. Called BASE camp, the Oak Park Park Education Foundation serves around 1000 kids who get to learn about STEAM concepts. STEAM stands

BFGInside the Interiors of the movie “The BFG”

In the new film, “The BFG” there are some spectacular spaces and places to see. It is worth seeing because it is one of the sweetest movies ever, and you can also see it to see the interior architectural spaces. Filmed in 3D, the little girl, Sophie is taken from an orphanage and brought to

Julia MorganJulia Morgan – Great Architect

Julia Morgan had many firsts. She was the first woman to graduate from the L’Ecole de Beaux Arts in 1901, the first woman to receive an architecture License in California and one of the first women to go to the University of California at Berkeley in civil engineering. So being a woman who designed buildings back in

Rietveld ChairBirthday Cheer for the Reitveld Chair

Gerrit Reitveld has a birthday today! He was born in 1888 on June 24. Known for his designs and as part of the De Stijl movement, he is probably most famous for this chair in black, red, yellow,blue and red. Almost like he took some toy wooden blocks and attached them together at various geometric points,

Parking lot with carA Hidden Structure

663 cars are hiding underground. Well, they are not really hiding, they are parked in this well-concealed parking lot in the Netherlands. Looking like a home for Hobbits, this structure won the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects award for the Best Dutch Building of the Year 2016.  We think that it might be a great

Jane JacobsJane Jacobs Day at Google!

See Jane stop that building from being demolished! What a great person – Jane Jacobs was an activist – who wrote a book in 1961 titled “[amazon_link id=”067974195X” target=”_blank” ]The Death and Life of Great American Cities[/amazon_link]”. She took on urban planners who thought that cities were unhealthy and nasty places and that they should be

So is THAT how that building was built??

We wondered how buildings were built! This building must be built by GIANTS! They drop the parts of the buildings together and it is a miracle but they are instantly and perfectly built! Go here and see the animations. Ok, not true. These are interesting brief animations that take apart structures and then put them

interior crates416 Creative CRATES for Immigrants

Architecture students do some really wacky and innovative stuff. They stay up all night to get their work done and they build structures out of materials that are not normally used. Like plastic vegetable crates. And plastic ties. And nothing else. At Lebanese American University, in Byblos Lebanon, the architecture students were asked to solve

film and architectureArchitecture Films Galore

Who doesn’t like videos? Who doesn’t like architecture? Who doesn’t like videos about architecture? If you are one of those folks who are interested in learning about the built environment by watching short films, we have the site for you. Walk through a building designed by Shigeru Ban or Daniel Libeskind. In one video, architect Steven

Willis Tower on the classroom wallTeach about Architecture to Kids

This week we received a great letter from an art teacher in Arizona who teaches 7th grade students about architecture. Thank you for noting our work and letting us know what you are doing! This teacher works with her students on a 9 week rotation teaching them about architecture. “Wall Posters” The students draw on the walls

Draw all of NYC buildings?Can He Draw ALL the Buildings in New York?

There is an artist who lives in New York City who believes he can draw all of the buildings in New York City! Wow. Now that is a goal in your life, right? It is a great book about architecture for kids and can be used for storytelling or for some simple math skills too

TSUMIKITsumiki and the Triangle

Tsumiki is the Japanese word for “wooden blocks”. How convenient that a Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, has designed a set of wooden blocks in triangular shapes. They look so beautiful and made of cedar wood (approved from the forest conservation organization, More Trees.) They are only available in Japan right now and we look forward to

roll houseGot the Winter Blues? Build a Cardboard House!

You don’t need much to build a cardboard house and if you are stuck inside this winter, you might build something really interesting! (To see a world famous architect who uses cardboard/paper to make structures in the world, read about architect Shigeru Ban. A couple of the houses are from kits, but generally you can

Trump TowerDump The Trump Tower

Donald Trump. A name that is in the news all of the time nowadays. Come to Chicago and cross the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River and see the Trump Tower,  a huge skyscraper, shaped like a bottle in reflective bluish glass with elegant and graceful curves. It WAS a beautiful building. And then Donald Trump decided to put