Earlier this month, in parallel with other firms, Payette welcomed a group of high school students into the office for a first-hand look into the profession of architecture. The Architecture and Design Thinking Day was a joint initiative between the BSA Foundation and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) who connect youth with workforce partners to provide opportunities to put students on the path to rewarding careers.
I always enjoy and find energy in interacting with students’ curiosity and creativity. I jumped at the chance to organize the day along with my colleague Megan Brown to potentially inspire someone to choose a design profession. We started the day by gathering the students’ initial thoughts on architecture and design while looking at a variety of buildings from past to present. This opened an engaging dialogue about what we do as architects, who we serve and how we go about doing our work. The students had lots of questions from how to create prototype models, to how we select construction systems. We then toured the Payette office, making a variety of stops that illustrated our process of design, methods of communication and the team effort required to successfully practice architecture. Our Virtual Reality (VR) station, along with project process models with interchanging design options, proved to be the hits of the tour. When we visited the model shop, the 3D printers provoked a surprising discussion on organ printing. After verifying that no, we could not print a heart in our office, we concluded the tour and headed back to our assembly room to discuss the steps of defining a design problem. We tasked the students with their own design activity to realize their ideal working space. This started with a series of critical questions that allowed them to pinpoint material and immaterial characteristics of space. We then asked them to imagine through sketching and modelling. While some students focused on specific details, others took a wider approach looking at the overall form of the space. After an opportunity to present and talk about their designs and ideas the day ended with one-on-one interviews allowing the students to practice discussing their strengths and accomplishments while gaining confidence in this vital process.
Overall the day proved to encourage students’ inquiry and knowledge on architecture, design and construction while giving them a more personal connection to the field. Facilitating a successful day in the office for these students involved a team effort. Megan and I want to give a shout out to all who helped throughout the day to make it a success. We hope to continue to broaden the relationship between our office, the BSA and Boston PIC to offer more students opportunities to follow their passion and develop the next generation of architects and designers.