Friday, December 16, 2011

Spotlight on Education: LW! partners with architecture & engineering firm to bring lessons to life

As LW!'s Dir. of Education, Debi Germann, has the enviable job of exploring the West Side with local youngsters, encouraging them to look up from their shoestrings and take in the exciting architecture around them.  Debi does this through "Keeping the Past for the Future", LW!'s award-winning youth education program (learn more here!).  

In addition to Debi's established curriculum -- whereby students work on projects like neighborhood mapping, row house facade design and even holding mock hearings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission -- Debi is also able to call on members of the preservation community to volunteer their time in the service of education.  

In sharing with students their real-world experiences as architects or engineers, for example, these professionals give KPF students a glimpse at how the lessons they're learning with Debi and their teachers translate into "real life".  In November, Debi was joined by Lynne Funk of Rand Engineering & Architecture on a visit to the classroom.  LW! is incredibly thankful to our friends and colleagues at Rand for generously volunteering their time to benefit KPF students.  Enjoy the "report from the field", direct from Rand's Lynne Funk, below!  And if you're interested in learning more about how you can be a part of KPF's mission, let us know! 

A “Real Life Architect” Goes Back to School 
Posted on by Lynne Funk, AIA
Before my visit, the fifth graders had observed nearby row houses and their varied ornamentation. Each student was given an outline of a row house elevation, adding details at cornice level, around the windows, and at the stoop. I brought a set of plans from one of Rand's projects at a nearby building and explained how the details for facades and roofing systems are drawn and scaled.

Rand Architect Lynne Funk explains the details of building design
to a class of budding preservationists at the Bloomingdale School (P.S. 145).
Samantha's success in engaging the kids to learn about buildings and architecture was reflected in their questions: Some of the many questions they asked were: How long does a project takes from start to finish? (From a couple of weeks to a couple of months—or sometimes even years.) Who else beside the architect works on a building? (Engineers, masons, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, electricians, et al.) What's a cornice for? (Mostly ornamental, but it also keeps water from dripping on the facade.) What should you study if you want to be an architect? (Math, design, art, writing, history.)

They were also very interested in what makes buildings stand up—and why they sometimes fall down. To explain how structural supports function, Samantha pointed to the vertical columns and horizontal beams in the classroom, and I described how concrete is reinforced with steel in buildings and how this system differs form the load-bearing walls in the row houses they drew.
I come from a family of engineers, but I loved to draw and to write, so my father steered me toward architecture. I would have loved to have been in a class like Samantha's when I was in elementary school. Based on the enthusiasm I saw in her students, I have a feeling I was looking at some future "real life architects."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Holiday Season, Celebrate NYC Architecture

This year, LW! had made some terrific new friends.  One such comrade on the front lines of documenting and reporting West Side happenings, musing on architecture and urban planning in NYC (past and present!), and generally keeping  us engaged with their blog reporting is untapped cities.

They were with us at Landmark Feast in September, and we're looking forward to clacking our castanets together on January 19th for "La Noche Cubana"!  Our thanks to untapped founder and city enthusiast, Michelle Young, for taking a shine to LW! and sharing our work with the community!

We encourage you to check out untapped new york and any other corner of the world you want to explore through the lens of untapped's contributors.  We'll even get you started ...

Below are holiday greetings from untapped to LW! that we're sharing along to you!  These pieces by Downtown Doodler highlight some of our city's iconic architecture (I spy the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center!).  See more from Bernadette Moke, she of downtown doodling renown, on untapped (here!).

Original art by Bernadette Moke / Downtown Doodler

Original art by Bernadette Moke / Downtown Doodler

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

West-Park Celebrates Milestone 100 Years in the Making

Yesterday evening, the congregation of West-Park Presbyterian Church opened its doors to celebrate their 100th year!  To mark the occasion, the Church hosted 100+, a benefit event looking back on the past century of growth and achievements in anticipation of the rejuvenation that has already begun!

West-Park, located on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue at West 86th Street, was alive with theatrical and acoustic musical performances, modern dance and ... an aerialist!  The variety of programming during 100+ speaks to the amazing opportunity for adaptive reuse at West-Park, and the range of partners who could one day call the church "home" and its congregation "neighbors"!

Click here to learn more about how far West-Park has come (and how YOU can be a part of it!), and click here to learn about plans for the future!

Below, a few (somewhat fuzzy) iPhone photos snapped during the evening's merriment:

Rev. Robert Brashear welcomes friends and supporters to 100+.

The beautiful stained glass inside West-Park illuminates the sanctuary.

The evening began with a one-act play, chronicling the history of the church. 
On the left, "Wes" (that is, the church personified) explains to a construction worker his plan
for the future of West-Park.
In the balcony above the sanctuary, members of Times Square Playwrights perform.

In the parish house, musician Amanda Christine performs.

Aerialist Rachel Hsiung stuns and mesmerizes the crowd amid balloons and cupcakes aplenty.