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Keep architects- and designers-in-training busy with these online workshops and activities

Coloring Through It

Keep architects- and designers-in-training busy with these online workshops and activities

Foster + Partners’ #Architecturefromhome initiative is one of several educational programs geared to keep kids (and their parents) creatively engaged during lockdown. (Foster + Partners)

The bad news: In many cities, classrooms are officially shuttered for the rest of the school year due to the novel coronavirus crisis—and the status of summer camps isn’t looking too hot either.

The better news: While certainly no substitute for in-person experiences, many cultural institutions, museums, and even individual architecture firms are now offering architecture- and design-focused online educational opportunities—from Zoom-based workshops to downloadable coloring e-books to amusing, family-friendly video series—that cater to stuck-at-home kids and the parents and caretakers. And because creativity (and coloring as a de-stressing tool) knows no age limit, many of these opportunities hold strong appeal to listless big kids, too.

Check out just a few of these online activities and workshops below. Many are free and some require advance registration.

CAC@Home and CAC for the Family

The Chicago Architecture Center has retooled its upcoming calendar of family-and youth-oriented programming to accommodate for virtual learning while in-person events are on pause. Debuting in conjunction with each weekly edition of the CAC@Home newsletter, offerings include a remote iteration of the Girls Build! program, three new video series (Architecture Essentials, Neighborhood Strollers, and Storytime with CAC), and more. “Schools may be out of session and museums are closed, but the CAC is working to keep children, parents and teachers learning about architecture and design, including the buildings around them, while practicing spatial distancing at home in their own neighborhoods,” said Nicole Kowrach, the Center’s vice president for education and audience engagement, in a statement.

Center for Architecture 

In partnership with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, the Center for Architecture has launched #ArchitectureAtHome, a series of fun, family-oriented activities to engage, inspire, and pass the time. They include drawing activities, Google Map-based scavenger hunts, and tutorials on how to make pop-up buildings out of paper bags.

Foster + Partners #Architecturefromhome

Sympathetic to frazzled parents in need of new distractions for restless broods, London-based mega-firm Fosters + Partners recently launched a robust at-home educational initiative dubbed #Architecturefromhome that includes “drawing, making, playing, thinking, reading, watching, and other activities to keep them [out of school kids] entertained—for at least a few hours!” Templates for activities, including “Paper skyscraper,” “Create your own city,” and “Drawing trees,” are available to download through the #Architecturefromhome micro-site. The firm encourages participants young and old to share their completed creations on social media.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Classroom and Virtual Summer Camp

Through May 20, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s education department is hosting a virtual classroom for K-12 students with new lessons and corresponding videos being introduced each week. Says the Foundation of the free educational initiative, which is based on a curriculum developed in collaboration with the Paradise Valley School District: “The Virtual Classroom combines fun, real-world lessons with Wright’s famed principles of organic architecture and solutions-based design, each STEAM-focused lesson will offer students its own variation of hands-on activities that encourage them to think critically and creatively.” Although the six-week series is now in week three of lessons, it’s never too late to join in. Upcoming lessons include “Circles” and “The Impact of Color.”

Normally held at the Taliesin West campus in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Foundation’s popular Summer Art and Architecture Summer Camp is also going virtual, and for the first time, is also free. Virtual campers enrolled in the program will meet via Zoom for an hour every weekday during three two-week sessions kicking off on June 1.

Gensler Amazing Cities coloring books

The Texas-based offices of global architecture firm Gensler have banded together to release two coloring books, Amazing Cities and Amazing Cities Kids, geared toward housebound families looking for a fun, architecture-centric distraction. The free downloadable coloring books together span over 200 pages and feature a slew of Gensler-designed buildings across the Lone Star State including in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. “In the wake of recent COVID-19 events, we’ve been channeling our creative energy into finding a way to educate and inspire people of all ages during these challenging times,” Gerardo Gandy, an associate at Gensler who conceived the series, told D magazine. “We hope this series allows the public, especially young minds, to use their creativity and imagination, and that it extends the spirit of our firm and the passion that we share for our practice to our friends, clients, and community.”

The Guggenheim Museum: Sketch With Jeff 

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 3 p.m. during the month of May, Jeff Hopkins, teaching artist at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, will tell stories about the history of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Manhattan home through a series of sketches. Each sketch is followed by a prompt meant to inspire young viewers to create their own sketches at home. Participants are encouraged to share their finished work on Instagram or on Twitter with the hashtag #SketchWithJeff.

The Glass House presents Josef Albers Color Workshop

On May 22, the Glass House, in participation with the New Canaan Library, is hosting an hour-long, hands-on color workshop led by Fritz Horstman, director of education at The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. “Working from Josef Albers’s book Interaction of Color, we will experiment with colors that you may already have around your home. We will try our hands at exercises that Albers invented in his time teaching at the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale, such as One-Color-Becomes-Two, Reversed Grounds, and Afterimage,” explains the event page. No prior artistic experience is required to participate although those registered must have a list of necessary materials on hand before the workshop begins. Self-directed, video-driven color workshops specifically for kids are also available through the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

Museum of Design Atlanta: Young Designers Online

MODA’s calendar of upcoming online workshops for pint-sized design aficionados is impressive: A three-part series in skatepark design, an intro to using Minecraft as a CAD tool, and ongoing educational sessions for aspiring architects and designers ages eight through 15.

The National Building Museum

Although the National Building Museum has canceled all public programming through the end of September (and doesn’t list any upcoming virtual events on its calendar), the museum’s website has a rich resource of at-home learning opportunities (Newspaper forts! Bell pepper architectural drawings! Building surveys!) for cooped-up families including the nifty, recently launched Neighborhood Exploration series.

New Museum Kids Menu

While the New Museum’s First Saturdays For Families programming has been canceled, the New Museum Kids Menu series is continuing to “provide families with activities to learn about contemporary art and ideas at home.” Past family-friendly activities include “At Home With Portraiture: Jordan Casteel” and “The Faces of Places: Jordan Casteel.” Keep abreast of upcoming activities here.