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Architecture by Children

ABC LogoContact information: Zoe Hardy, AIA

What is ABC?

Since 1994 Architecture By Children(ABC) has been providing an opportunity for children in grades K-12 to learn about architecture directly from local architects & designers. AIA Cincinnati administers this free educational outreach program in partnership with the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati. Over the years, ABC has grown from 6 schools to nearly 100. It brings a fun and engaging educational experience to as many as 2,000 children throughout the Cincinnati metropolitan area annually.

Through ABC, AIA Cincinnati aims to educate our community about the value of the role of the architect, and how what architects do affects all our lives through the design and development of our shared environment. Students are given an opportunity to connect skills learned in the standard curriculum to real-world problem solving through the conceptualization, design and presentation of a themed building project. Benefits for the students include creativity, self-esteem, communication skills, and an enhanced appreciation for the built environment. Benefits to our community include an increasingly aware populace, willing to support good, sustainable design into the future.

ABC photoHow ABC Works

In August, schools on our list receive registration forms and an outline of the specific theme chosen by the committee. Registration closes at the end of October. In December, at the Architects' Kick-Off Event, ABC matches registered schools with local volunteer architects.

Upon returning to class in January, students receive a classroom visit from their assigned architect. The Architect presents to the students images of significant and recognizable buildings and spaces. They review what is involved in being an architect ("what do you do all day?"), how architectural design affects the built environment and they take a look at historical and modern forms used in the design of the theme building type. Past themes include "Gateway to Your City", "House of the Future", "Cool School", and "Skyscraper". Following the architect's presentation, students work with their teacher to continue their architectural studies by designing their own projects, researching and developing an understanding of the building type, architectural theories, building materials, and spatial relationships. The students work either alone or in teams of 2-3 to create models and/or drawings of their designs.

ABC photoAt the end of the semester, top projects from each school are selected for a week-long public presentation and entered into a mini design competition, culminating with awards and prizes for excellence in several categories. Each student participating in the program receives a certificate of participation and a commemorative t-shirt, hopefully along with a new appreciation for architecture, design, and the value of our built environment.

Become an ABC Sponsor


Current Program

2014 Program - UrbanEdge

Past Programs

2013 Program - Museum
2012 Program - Bridge
2011 Program - Sacred Spaces
2010 Program - Revision
2009 Program - Transportation Station
2008 Program - Dwelling
2007 Program - Thinking Green
2006 Program - Museum
2005 Program - Bridge
2004 Program - Sacred Spaces
2002 Program - Skyscraper
2001 Program - Transportation Station
2000 Program - Cool School
1999 Program - Housing for the Next Mellennium
1998 Program - Gateway to Your City

ABC 2013 Sponsors