“Developing an Eye for Design”

Architects go beyond merely looking at the surface of a project to try and see through to the underlying issues.  These are skills that translate across many professions and areas of interest.  “Looking” is primarily the passive activity of gazing upon an object, but “seeing” is an active engagement that involves measuring proportion, studying detail, counting elements to ultimately understand the object more deeply, often through the act of drawing.

Like the appreciation of any art form, a love of architecture requires education, time and access to beautiful buildings.  Fortunately, here in Newport we are surrounded by great works of architecture, but the formal educational programs that could help people learn about them are limited.  This year, for the first time, the Preservation Society of Newport County is offering a series of Children’s Workshops to help introduce youth to the properties in their collection and also to principles of drawing and design.

The Society is seeking a dozen or so students age 8 to 12 to enroll in a series of one-hour programs given by local architects at Preservation Society properties.  Mohamed Farzan of NewPort Architecture kicks off the “Junior Drafters” program on August 1 at the Chinese Tea House at Marble House at 10 a.m. One week later on Thursday August 8, I will run a similar program at The Elms Garden Pavilion. These workshops are an experiment to see how children can be engaged to learn about these wonderful and playful structures.  Programs later in the month focus on landscape design at The Elms and Green Animals Topiary Gardens.  The effort to bring out future citizens and leaders into a closer affinity and affiliation with architecture is in line with the Preservation Society’s mission to “Protect, Preserve and Present” these irreplaceable assets.

There are still a few spaces left in the program.  Please contact Brittany Hullinger, Museum Affairs coordinator at the Preservation society (BHullinger@newportmansions.org / 401.847.1000 x154), to reserve a place for your child.

Ross Sinclair Cann, AIA LEED AP is an architectural historian, teacher, author and practicing architect who lives and works in Newport. This article was initially published in ARCHI-TEXT, in Newport This Week, August 1, 2013.

Developing an Eye for Design