This past spring, the Youth Leadership Team was invited by the National Organization of Minority Architects local chapter to tour UVa’s School of Architecture. Professor Elgin Cleckley organized and led the tour with several of his students. Elgin is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Design Thinking at the University of Virginia, School of Architecture and teaches Design Thinking studios and foundation courses at the School of Architecture, with appointment in the Curry School of Education and the School of Nursing.
One of Professor Cleckley’s architecture school students began the tour with an introduction and overview of the school and its programs, providing the youth with insight into the work that goes on there. Once inside, they were led through the current art exhibit of UVa alumnus, Carlton Abbott, viewing a collection of drawings that were created during his career which has spanned over fifty years. The drawings depicted a range of subjects from housing to large urban projects. Then, the youth explored downstairs starting with a tour of the wood shop. With lots of end of the year projects being completed, they were able to see some students’ work being finalized in time for May’s graduation. Then, the students were introduced to printing and toured the CNC Lab where they learned the different ways one can print using a CNC machine. There, they saw how 3-D models really begin to take shape. These fabrication facilities are called the SARC Shops which are in a consortium with the Arts Grounds Shops that include the Scene Shops at the Drama Department and the Shops at McIntire Department of Art. The students learned they are laboratories for thinking through making both in the analog and the digital realm.
After a quick view of one of the computer facilities, the final part of the tour took the youth through the architecture school studios. At UVa’s School of Architecture this place is located on and encompasses most of the third and fourth floors of Campbell Hall. It consists of very open and collaborative spaces where students can discuss ideas together and help formulate the ultimate design work they produce. Several architecture students shared their projects with the youth and explained their 3-D modelling systems. The youth leaders showed much interest in these 3-D models and just a few short weeks later, were invited back by Professor Cleckley and his students to enjoy a more hands-on experience. During that second visit, the Friendship Court youth members put their creative minds to work, creating their very own 3-D models working together in the studios and getting a glimpse into the life of a UVA architecture student. They all seemed to really enjoy the hands-on experience of getting to use tools and create their own models.
Thank you to Professor Barbara Brown Wilson for her support and commitment in making sure the tour and hands-on experience happened for the youth leaders.