The American Institute of Architects Brings Architecture Into New Jersey Classrooms in Celebration of 2018 National Architecture Week

April 21, 2018

The American Institute of Architects Brings Architecture Into New Jersey Classrooms in Celebration of 2018 National Architecture Week


In celebration of NATIONAL ARCHITECTURE WEEK 2018, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NJ) is sending ARCHITECTS  and ARCHITECTURE into New Jersey’s schools. Chapter President Verity Frizzell, FAIA, LEED AP+BD+C, had the opportunity to present to Mr. Kennedy’s sixth-grade class at Bay Head Elementary School in Bay Head, NJ.



The purpose of this free program is to introduce children to the profession of Architecture. AIA NJ wishes to convey what an architect is, what an architect does, and that there is an opportunity for any child to become an architect, with the goal being that sending this message to the general masses will increase the number and diversity of students studying architecture and thereby expanding equity across the architecture population in future generations of the profession.

According to Ms. Maria Wills, Bay Head Technology Teacher, “Mrs. Frizzell offered a wonderful presentation and activity with our 6th-grade students.”


6th grader Liam Dolan said, “I like the project in general, especially the way Mrs. Frizzell gave us the information using her slides. It made it easier to understand what she wanted us to do.” Classmate Max Bradshaw said, “The project really showed me what architects do and I now have an interest in architecture.”



Ms. Frizzell’s focus for the year is on Equity in Architecture, K-12 education and the critical relationship between the two to the future of the profession.  She served on the national commission that studied equity in the profession and developed priority recommendations in 2016.

Here is what President Frizzell has to say…


“Several people have asked me what my theme or agenda is for the year. Mostly it is to continue the great work of all those who came before me, but there is one initiative I think is important.  We have talked a lot over the past several years about raising public awareness and improving the profession.  We have made some definite strides, but we have a long way to go before we stop hearing ‘I’m told I need an architect, but I don’t know what you do’ from our prospective clients.  I believe that the future of our profession, indeed of all professions, and the key to solving these challenges lies in our youth. If we can teach kids from all backgrounds the value of architects and architecture from a young age, not only will they make better clients one day, but some of them might want to become architects too.  As Michelle Obama said in her speech at the National convention in Orlando ‘They don’t even know what an architect is, let alone that they could be one.’  To that end, I want to start a statewide K-12 education program that touches as many kids from as many areas as possible. From my work on the Equity in Architecture Commission, I know that AIA National has restarted a significant effort in this area, and will be making a lot of resources available, so now is the perfect time to start.  However, I will need the help of everyone in the organization, because it’s no small task. But it is one we can accomplish together. One after-school program, or assembly, or field trip at a time.”


This presentation is being offered by the AIA NJ Equity in Architecture Committee. Committee Chair Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, has been teaching K-12 Architecture in Schools programs since 1991 and originally designed this program for AIA NJ in 2007 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of AIA. Ms. Kliesch truly believes in the impact of the program and the benefits of creative problem-solving techniques being taught to all students.

According to Ms. Kliesch, “Being able to identify a problem, examine the facts, generate and explore ideas, then assess the varied potential outcomes is a most valuable skill set for an individual. Architectural education teaches these things. We seek to share these lessons with all children in the hopes of instigating a desire for discovering more, triggering an interest in Architecture and cultivating the next generation of Architects with representatives from across our population.”


The objective is to share the message with the children of New Jersey that opportunity and creativity are available for all, and that they can make a difference in their communities TODAY and be the next generation of AIA NJ Architects TOMORROW.  A lesson on architecture is a perfect STEAM enrichment course and complements most current curriculums. AIA NJ has 20 members trained to provide this program to children across the state. If you want to become trained as a presenter or your school is interested in scheduling a free presentation, please e-mail your request to



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