photo by David Kindler

Oak Park grade schoolers created a city during OPEF’s BASE Camp Architecture Adventure program this summer. The students researched famous world structures, created models of them, and then combined all their efforts into one urban plan, complete with rivers, dams, parks, and bridges. Gabe M., a fourth grader at Irving, built a boat dock and the Golden Gate Bridge and found that “you can make a lot of things out of just a little.” His Mom, Veena R. says “He loves cities. He plans them on paper all the time, so this was perfect for him.”

Adrienne McMullen, coordinator for Architecture Adventure and BASE Camp teacher, said the kids also got a chance to use Google’s Sketch Up design program with the help of volunteer Mark Klancic. With this the kids “could see the kinds of [designing] stuff that is out there.” The emphasis of this camp, however, was “figuring things out three-dimensionally and building with hands and not with computers.” So, with cardboard, plastic, and a host of other materials, the kids set out to build their city.

Sophia Lyman, an Architecture Adventure BASE Camp teacher, said about 10 different professionals visited the camp. One volunteer was Ken Floody, a structural engineer with INGENII, LLC. He worked with Hatch fifth grader Nicholas B., on a working model of the Hoover Dam. Nicholas said “I loved this camp, but I’m sad I didn’t sign up for the next session!” John Viise from Halvorson and Partners also showed the kids what structural engineers do and how they work with architects.
The student-built models included the Lotus Temple in Delhi, Sydney Opera House, the Parthenon, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, and Chicago’s Aqua building.