Architecture course in workshop

Collaboration Creates New Architecture Course

When CA Senior Tommy Ehringer started thinking about career options, he knew he wanted to pursue a vocation that would use both sides of his brain.

“I enjoy problem solving and math, but I also really like art,” Ehringer says. “I started to think that maybe architecture could be a field that would combine both and would really hold my interest.”

During the 2017-2018 school year, Ehringer is one of the first students to test drive his interest in architecture by enrolling in CA’s new course—Introduction to Architectural Drawing.

The idea for this class—which in its first year has more than 30 students enrolled in 2 sections—originated during the building of CA’s Tiny House in the Innovation Lab. To help students design the interior of the Tiny House, Upper School Studio Art Teacher Katy Hills learned the 3D modeling software, SketchUp.

“My background is in drawing,” Hills says. “Transferring to digital drawing definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I found that I loved it and the more I did it, the better I got.”

“We want to design something that will be around for a long time and have impact.”

-Nina Hall, CA junior

When students saw some of Hills’s 3D designs, they all had the same question. “They wanted to know, ‘Can we learn this too?’” Hills says. “That got me thinking.”

At the same time those Innovation Lab students wanted to learn 3D modeling, Hills noticed her Studio Art students staring out the windows of the old arts building as construction workers built the new Ponzio Arts Center. Every day, students watched, fascinated by another step in the building process. Occasionally, the architect of the building, CA parent Andy Rockmore of Shears Adkins Rockmore, would give the students tours of the new arts center.

One day, Hills broached the idea of an introductory architecture course with Rockmore.

“He was incredibly excited,” Hills says. “He is passionate about design, and he loved the idea of young students learning architecture.”

Together, the teacher and the architect began discussing what an introductory architecture class could look like at CA. It would start with observational drawing of many buildings on CA’s campus. “The first step of studying, analyzing and sketching an existing space on campus will be fascinating,” Rockmore says. “It always reveals something that has been seen and experienced, but perhaps not fully perceived.”

Junior Nina Hall enrolled in the course because she loves to draw and design. She believes the course is popular with students for one simple reason: “We want to design something that will be around for a long time and have impact.”

So thanks to a teacher who is a lifelong learner, students with a new idea, and a parent who has inspired a group of young people, CA students like Hall and Ehringer will have an introduction to the career of an architect.

“CA supports passionate teachers and students in the pursuit of new ideas,” Hills says. “We are not confined to the curriculum guide. If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“This is an example of CA listening to what students desired,” Hall adds. “And now they have given us a chance to experience it.”