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  • 19th September 2023

Landmark West! expands architecture education on the Upper West Side

The Ove Arup Foundation has agreed a grant to Landmark West! Organisation Organisation in New York to expand their long-established Keeping the Past for the Future programme to more students in order to capitalise on the work begun by their existing provision.

Landmark West! is an architecture, arts, and culture non-profit dedicated to building an inclusive community and championing a positive neighbourhood quality of life for the Upper West Side of Manhattan. They engage in extensive education outreach, diverse programming and wide-ranging research and preservation advocacy to protect and celebrate the city’s unique historic environment.

Running for over 25 years, Keeping the Past for the Future (KPF) is their youth education programme that celebrates the artistic, cultural and built heritage of the Upper West Side (UWS). They offer nine distinct courses for both elementary and middle school students, always free to all public schools in New York City. These courses cover a range of themes, like architecture, local history, design, historic preservation, geometry and poetry.

Historically, most of their programming has been geared towards elementary aged students; however, after a successful collaboration with the Ove Arup Foundation in 2019, they developed and piloted two new courses for eighth-grade students that trace NYC’s history and urban development through and after World War II. Based on the success of that initiative (learn more about these programmes on their website), they now aim to expand their middle grade offerings even further by developing a brand new course for seventh-grade students.

KPF brings three key benefits:

  1. Education – the KPF curriculum introduces children to the study of architecture and the built environment, encompassing art, social studies, language arts, history, science and maths. The programme engages children’s minds and imaginations to explore how buildings and cities are designed and built.
  2. Civic Engagement – the community voice and dialogue between citizens and elected representatives about developments in their communities is crucial. KPF promotes observation and drawing of the built environment to foster awareness of the daily landscapes and hidden treasures that the UWS offers. Creativity is used as a tool to empower children to be more actively critical and propositional citizens, and educational resources are provided to teach children and adults about the value of an engaged community.
  3. Enrichment – Landmark West! provides KPF as an enrichment programme to UWS public schools. Curriculum enrichment programmes, used to supplement the daily school curriculum, are often the first to be removed when school budgets tighten. However, they are also the programmes that encourage children to be creative, to explore, and to find a voice.

Landmark West! teach 2000 students a year across a broad cross-section of the UWS community. The demographics of their UWS public schools suggests they are reaching a diverse ethnic and socio-economic range of young students, and investing in middle grade offerings allows them to grow that diversity even more. They face a growing desire from teachers for repeat programming across different grades, but until now, with programming for only one middle school grade, they were unable to meet that need for older students, or capitalise on the relationships they have developed.

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