“We’ll be adding landscaping next,” announced Andrew. The second grade architect barely took his eyes off his latest LEGO® design.
These 3rd and 4th graders take playing with LEGOs to a whole new level. It’s just one facet of Visionary Architecture, a business venture at Eugenio Maria de Hostos MicroSociety School.
How do these visionaries turn their ideas into reality? Like real architects, of course. Combining serious research with pure imagination, Andrew and his business partners study famous structures of the world, from bridges to castles and other landmarks. They also work with kids from another venture, Rent-a-Reader, to check out good books about architectural engineering.
But it’s even more sophisticated than that. Andrew and his partners also teach applied engineering concepts to other students.
“Take a look at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis,” he points out confidently on the wall map.” I had to reinforce my arch,” he explains. “It’s much more difficult to build an arch than a solid wall. Did you know that ancient mathematician’s figured it out by just using math and their imaginations?”
Wait…it gets even better. Employees also manufacture LEGO building kits (complete with instructions on how to construct each building) to sell at the MicroSociety student marketplace. Before bringing the product to market, they test each design specification to be sure it is structurally sound.
After a busy week of work, it’s finally reflection day. This is where Andrew and his employees meet to talk about issues they faced so they can make Visionary Architecture the best architectural firm it can be.
So what will these fledgling architects design next? The crew is studying architect Frank Lloyd Wright and constructing a replica of Fallingwater. Andrew and his friends talk about how to make a house structurally sound, just like Mr. Wright. Two of them are just learning English but they work together, easily moving from one language to another. One student will test out of English Language Learning a year earlier than anticipated.