Fun With Architecture: LBBA Labs Fall Session at After School Matters

By Destiny McClellan

Last Fall, LBBA hosted our third Labs program in partnership with After School Matters. Below, one of the teens from our program shares her thoughts on the sessionHeadshot of Destiny McClellan, After School Matters studentDestiny McClellan is a sophomore that attends King College Prep and is 15 years old. She likes food, music, and fashion.

On the first day of the program I was nervous and excited. I’d never done architecture before and I wanted to learn about it. My socializing skills weren’t that great, and I knew that being in the program would help me. When we first started, we learned things about other cities and how their buildings were all connected with where they were located. It was really cool to understand how by looking on the outside of a building you could predict when it was built. After a week in the program we started drawing pictures of a wall in our own rooms. I’d drawn mine without a ruler and with one dark pen. It didn’t look the greatest but my instructors wanted me to realize that it was only a first draft. I learned that to make a drawing more clear and realistic I had to use a ruler, details, and most importantly, more than one pen.

Man pointing out architectural features on a projected image

When we first started the program, our instructors told us about a big project that we would present at the end of the program. The project consisted of us being in 6 groups of 2-4 students. We had to design a plan to build small, comfortable, and affordable living spaces for 8 clients with different requirements. Near the Lutz Center, where our program was held, there was an empty lot that we would use as the site for our buildings. There would be 4 two flats and a common building. When we started the project, to get an idea of where exactly we wanted our buildings to be on the site we had strips that were to scale of our lot with small buildings of different shapes that we could move around. We all made different site plans and soon we all came to an agreement on how we wanted the buildings to look and and be on the site. Then, we moved on to creating floor plans for the buildings. Each group picked how they wanted the homes to look and they all had to be consistent with the constraints of all the buildings.

Jack Schroeder helping After School Matters students in classroom

My group had the first building on the lot, but me and my partner where only responsible for the first floor. When first learning about how to create a floor plan it seemed really easy, but it was a little challenging. We used stencils, rulers, and concentration to create them. The most challenging parts about making the floor plan were trying to figure how much space was needed for each room and the amount of space for things that would normally be in a home and how to arrange them. Another challenge was making the apartment wheelchair accessible. I swear I re-did my floor plan 10 times with trace paper and pencil! We looked at other floor plans and actually measured some items and places in a room to figure out how much space something took up. Everything had to be consistent to our scale. It took almost the whole program to finish the floor plans.

Top down view of an After School Matters student working on a floor plan

Our instructors made sure we were comfortable and interested in all the things we did. We came to work and they would always have an activity that helped us get to know each other and made us feel like it wasn’t just a ‘job’. We were there for each other and could talk about anything. When the project was almost completed and the program was near the end we all took a trip downtown. We went to the Art Institute, The Architecture Biennial at the Cultural Center, and The Chicago Architecture Foundation. It was fun and cool to hang with my peers and see all the sights.

After School Matters class at Milennium Park Jay Pritzker Pavillion

On the last day of the program we had the opportunity to share our work with architects from Landon Bone Baker. It was cool and made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than me. I’m looking forward to participating in other architectural programs in the future.